It is 1978; I am 12-years-old and just barely enduring seventh-grade Homemaking in a sweltering Texas classroom. Mrs. Smithson is pontificating on how "a hamburger served with cheese, lettuce and tomato is a complete and perfect meal all by itself according to today’s food pyramid standards" and because it is 1978, we believe her. In front of me, my girlfriend Anne dutifully jots down this nugget of wisdom in her new Trapper Keeper notebook -- you remember -- the one with the kitten on it. I want that notebook.
My husband is sitting behind me, blowing spitwads into my absurdly permed hair through a straw he snagged from the cafeteria and it is really pissing me off. My hair is supposed to look like Olivia Newton John’s at the end of Grease when wholesome Sandy has transformed into a sexy bad girl but on me it looks more like a strawberry-blonde poodle is perched atop my skull and the nasty spitwads aren’t doing it any favors. It’s okay though, the hair is not the story. The story is that my husband is very, very, very annoying. And yet, I married him anyway.
Not back then of course. Even in rural south Texas the locals would have raised an eyebrow or possibly even furrowed their brows at seventh-grade nuptials.
No, I didn’t marry him then, it didn’t seem like a sensible decision yet. At least not until after he had completed the Scared Straight program in the eighth grade. (It must not have scared him entirely straight since we still have the "souvenir" Texas State Penitentiary shirt that he stole to document his experience).
We dated for a bit in high school but it didn't seem sensible to marry him then, even though he was the only white guy in the Mexican mafia’s upper-level management as a mere sophomore (brag).
I didn’t marry him until my parents had a chance to mostly recover from being summoned into the police station to view the department’s photo collage featuring their daughter cavorting about town with this known delinquent. As scrapbooking goes, they were far ahead of their time -- it was a well crafted collage.
I continued to not marry him right through our senior year of high school because his sister kept getting kidnapped by her psychotic ex-boyfriend and my guy was super-busy rescuing her. Besides, at that time I was occupied with my own activities -- I had the crippling panic attacks, the suicidal depression, the generalized angst of college prep, etc. Clearly, neither of us could devote any time or attention to marriage just yet.
But later, after our high school graduation, once his ambitious criminal record had been expunged by a somewhat unscrupulous lawyer who ended up somewhat headless in an elevator (unrelated story), that's when I began to toss the marriage idea around in my head. Although, I still wouldn’t marry him until he had traded cocaine and heroin for gin and then traded gin for beer. Lots and lots of beer.
When I finally decided marrying him was a sound proposition, I was 22-years-old and we had been best friends for 10 years. I knew about all these transgressions, fuckups and felonies, and yet, I married him anyway. Because I also knew he was the kindest, most loyal, thoughtful and funny person I’d ever known. I knew he would risk his life to help a loved one. I knew he had an incredible work ethic from the Mexican mafia and that alcoholics tell better jokes. Mostly, I knew he was the absolute love of my life. Thirty years later I resolutely know that marrying that pain-in-the-ass spitwad-blowing boy was the best damn decision I ever made.