Good Spouses

The Alaska Blogs #8

“You’ve got a great wife there.”

“Yes, I know. Thank you.”

Of course the compliment was only tangentially meant for me. With the Fex by my side, she was the true target for these words of praise, a parting stroke in the conversation (flirtation?) that went on the day before, when this dapper gent and my great wife first met and exchanged shipboard pleasantries. It happens all the time on vacations, and especially on cruises; randomly thrown together for a week on the same ship, the passengers cross paths over and over, chat a bit, then move on. If the conversation lasts long enough, or is picked up again later, maybe you’ll catch a name – like Don and Kathy, the Denver couple we ran into a few times. Or Andy, cohort of Nick, our cruise’s designated dispenser of bonhomie (or buffoonery, depending on your sense of humor and tolerance for attention-seeking antics). Andy didn’t have to tell me I have a great wife. Despite any missteps along the way in reaching the IMD, she remains a good person. A great wife. Someone I want to stay married to. But, as in the words of Mick Jagger:

“Love, it’s a bitch.”

Andy doesn’t realize the irony of our little exchange. Who can know the all-consuming irony of our little trip, when we have played so well at being a happy loving couple, even if we’ve avoided the public displays of affection I’ve seen all around us. I mean, even the septuagenarians are walking around hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm. Once I imagined I’d be doing that too, with my great wife, in our old age. I see now how foolish it is to live outside the moment.

But I am weak and flawed, as we’ve discussed often here at C?WC? And the IMD has just heightened it, as I scroll back over everything I’ve done wrong, that contributed to this, that made my great wife think of me as a less-than-great husband. I’ve been petty at times; even after Andy’s kind words, which I truthfully acknowledged, I couldn’t let the matter lie. I told her that I meant it when I responded as I did, and I would mean it if it were said again, just as I always had when it was said before. Whatever our problems and differences, when we were out together, I was proud to be married to her. And with all that, thinking of our IMD was just so painful.

So what was her past take on me, before she knew she could not go on? Was there pride for the husband on her arm? Has anyone ever complimented her on her great husband? Are the flaws so obvious that a superficial exchange of pleasantries can’t mask them? Well, she says, her friends have passed compliments. They say I’m easy to talk to.

A ringing endorsement.

So are pets.

Perhaps it should be my epitaph.

No, not quite the stuff of “great husband” material. And she doesn’t offer anything else that might supplement the easy-talking description (gads, does that make me as deadly as easy-listening music?!) I suppose in the midst of our many levels of separation, saying nice things about me would serve no purpose for either one of us. Assuming there are any to say.

I go to bed a little angry, my pettiness enflamed with the thought that no one says to her, “What a great husband you have.” My guilt ballooning because I know many of my actions led to this state. My sadness expanded, again, with the thought that some day, someone else will be vacationing with my great wife. But she was not truly mine to keep, was she? No one belongs to us. We can only share time, emotions, thoughts, dreams; hope that the sharing overcomes the differences and existential solitude we all confront. In this case, two people failed to make that a lifelong quest.

Better luck next time.

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~ by mburgan on June 1, 2010.

2 Responses to “Good Spouses”

  1. Hey,

    I enjoyed reading your posts. The Japanese movie sounds interesting.

    I hope you don’t mind me saying that it was hard to read some of the stuff because of the black/white (it could just be because I’ve been reading blogs/blogging for some hours as of right now).

    Anyways, enjoyed the reading. I am going to check out your ‘obama revealed’ post.

    Also, I am curious, how do you put the little orange square on the side that says “Subscribe” into your page?

    Thanks.

  2. Thanks for the kind words. The subscribe thingy is a wordpress widget, I believe. As far as readability–yeah, it’s not the easiest, but I’m too lazy to change it at this point.

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