The Mr. and I were arguing about the word “Humvee,” which I put in a prose poem. The necessary context: the prose poem mentions The Governor of My Great Homeland, California, who, as you may know, was the first civilian to drive a Humvee in the U.S. Here’s how our conversation went:

K: You mean Hummer. Not Humvee, Hummer.

Me: I mean Humvee. As in High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. Which Schwarzenegger was the first civilian to drive in this country. So you can kiss my yellow ass.

K: Honey, your ass is kind of taupe.

Always the wise guy.

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When my single friends ask me what marriage is like/whether they should get married, I always remind them that marriage is not about the commitment of souls and emotions but about the more primary (sociologically speaking) commitment of two fortunes and financial legacies. It took me a long time to realize that marriage is all about capitalism…

…and it’s taking me a longer time to reconfigure my communist tendencies. I keep leaving little traces of them around, perhaps in the hope that someone will notice, denounce me to the authorities, and send me away to be reeducated.

The family I babysat for from age 11 to 19, a stunningly successful power couple with three lovable and reasonably-behaved children, pots of money, and excellent hair (both of them) provided me with an example for marriage that easily outshone my parents’ (not hard, since my parents’ marriage imploded only two years into my tenure as a babysitter). It may have been the way they called each other ten times a day to whisper sweet nothings while she was busy being a perfect, attentive, thoughtful mother dressed in the latest French fashions or the way he manfully bought and sold empires in between squiring her to symphonies, Democratic Party fundraisers, and restaurants with $10 mineral water. She was sensitive, beautiful, artistically inclined, and fluent in French (which made the shopping easier), with a storied past of dating future geniuses and Middle Eastern princes; he was handsome, tall, and just a little bit brooding (or maybe cranky; they looked the same to a teenager), with a taste for German automobiles and a fascinating, immigrant childhood. I never went so far as to wish they were my parents, but that is only because I was an adolescent; I wished I didn’t have parents (especially given the ones I actually had). And I never forgot one thing he said to me, during one of the private chats we always had on the ride home:

“Divorce is not an option. Death is an option.”

It’s a line that echoes in my head to this day. At the time, I interpreted it to mean that he would consider homicide if things got to that point, which they of course would not; it now occurs to me that maybe suicide was in the offing. At any rate, I’ve been thinking about the idea a lot lately as I’ve negotiated the murky waters of year four of a marriage that is as much the result of fate or chance, depending upon what you believe in, as anything else; as I see it, I am in an arranged marriage with the universe as matchmaker. And due to my sino-inscrutability, and the fact that I don’t see anything worse about arranged marriage than any other kind (come on! Look at all these chumps around you arranging their own marriages and then having those marriages die ignominious deaths after six weeks – or months, or days. Don’t you think they should get a professional to do the job?), I’ve been mostly OK with that.

But I have my moments. Moments when I think about how death is an option. Like this morning, when my husband, who promised to take care of the taxes weeks ago, was ignoring Thing One, who has been very high-maintenance lately, like a thoroughbred, needing a lot of currying and brushing and occasional blinders in order to avoid completely losing his shit and trampling his trainers to death. Why was he ignoring our son when I was supposed to be getting time to work? Because he was looking for a bunch of tax forms he lost in his desk in the hopes of making an 8 p.m. appointment with H&R Block tonight so that we could avoid late fees. Because he completely flaked on the taxes for months on end. Because time management is not his strong suit, and so our son is running around the house with no pants on screaming bloody murder and throwing random objects at walls and our daughter is responding by bursting into tears and their father is digging through piles of cut-up Vanity Fairs and letters from old girlfriends hoping he will find the tax forms that he has actually lost due to massive incompetence and carelessness and I am realizing why, in the past, I have always done our taxes: because the man I married has never dealt with his own paperwork, and in fact, when I met him and he was a multiple-offending college dropout his mother routinely filled out the FAFSA for him, and apparently even driving all our forms to H&R Block is too complex a task and my head is echoing with the refrain that death is an option, which is the point where your survival instinct kicks in and you start to understand why so many people pick divorce instead, and you take a deep breath and step back from the abyss you’re staring into, but it’s a close call.

A very close call. And let me just be clear on this: I still think, all things considered, the universe did a decent job tricking me into marrying someone. I mean, look at Britney Spears.

I mean, I love my husband. And come to think of it, he strongly resembles that guy I used to babysit for. He’s kind of cranky, and he has excellent hair. Too bad he’s poor.

In honor of the fact that this is Monday and it’s a cruel, cruel world out there, and the only other things I have to write about are 1)how disgusted I am at being made to feel that I must jump on the Obamaniac train as a way of validating my self-worth (and this commentary, despite its flattering take on McCain, does a great job of pointing out how Obama’s self-aggrandization is as oxymoronic as that Dr. Pepper commercial that says “Be you; do what you do” and implies heavily that “be you” is code for “drink a mass-produced vehicle for high-fructose corn syrup”) and 2)how disgusted I am at the petty back-stabbing of the preschool parent community (see previous post; Frannie is still Avoiding My Gaze as though it’s battery acid), I’ve decided to take a break from parsing the evils of everyday life for a change and present you with the following email, received this weekend from my grandparents-in-law, ages 76 and 75. It was sent from her email account but clearly written by him; titled “What the ____ Book Won’t Tell You,” the book in question being a book of family bios we all collaborated on; and made me think that either a)those people have better drugs than I do or b)there is hope for the future of mankind:

Hi all,
If you read the ____ Book page 100 it explains how we met: So we went to see Charlie Chaplin in “Limelight.” She cried and I loaned her my handkerchief.
Afterwards I walked her home to her house. She invited me in and we sat on the sofa in her living room. We kissed for the first time and that was very nice, Now about 10,000 kisses later it is still very nice.
A friend suggested that we sign up for the $5 per month NetFlix plan so we did. The first movie we ordered was “Limelight.” Friday night we watched this 55-year-old movie and thoroughly enjoyed it, It has drama, dance, philosophy, comedy, and pathos. If you ever watch it, you have to figure out where in the movie I had to loan Peggy my handkerchief. Anyway, who knows, without this movie perhaps we would never have gotten together. I don’t know where that would put all of you?
Love to all the family, James

Isn’t that sweet? And don’t you wish you were a septuagenarian sniffling over “Limelight” rather than a Gen-Xer worrying about inevitable apocalypse (when you’re not employing your generation’s famous nihilism to court inevitable apocalypse)?

Hells yeah, is what I say. Happy Monday.

I am often amazed that I am still married, because a stable relationship, to me (as a child of ugly, ugly divorce), seems improbable at best and, in my particular case, you have not just the normal impediments to the marriage of true minds, but extraordinary ones. My impediments are rare, strong, and really, really costly; I am the Johnny Walker Blue Label of issues, from my vacuuming OCD to my caustic criticisms to my bouts of depression to my secret desire to stop participating in the messy and inefficient business of everyday life in favor of subsisting on Buck Rogers-style “meal packets” and living in a completely controlled environment. Yesterday, for example, I treated my spouse to a half-hour diatribe because he mixed up the boxes of New York and Shakespeare magnetic poetry that I was sorting, because God forbid that Times Square should rub up against forsooth, and his actions, I explained, were somehow emblematic of a blatant disregard for my personhood and autonomy that could only result from mammoth solipsism. I then proceeded to rail against the word “concupiscence,” which I find both phonetically and semantically irritating; the high levels of benzene pollution in our town, which are causing our children’s lungs to shrink and atrophy; the ethical and intellectual bankruptcy of consumer-focused preschool education; and conventional meat farming practices and how they are going to kill us all with genital cancers from the artificial hormones.

And that was before lunch.

But my husband, whose ability to remain almost totally unaffected by just about everything around him gives him an edge when dealing with a member of the high-strung and hyper-vigilant ‘worrier class’ such as myself, takes it all in stride. And somehow he manages to spend at least half the time feeling concupiscence for me, even though I won’t let him say that word, plus I’m too busy lead proofing our home to put out. And this morning, when we stopped at the grocery store, he surprised me with a copy of the new GQ, because the cover features Bill Clinton, and he knows that I can’t resist any coverage of my favorite ex-president (“He’s a lover, not a killer,” says my stepdad, and truer words were never spoken), and he even let me refuse to share it with him in the car.

Sigh. What a sweetheart.

Like most people, I frequently wonder what I’m doing married or, as I was telling my uncle-in-law the other day, what to do with the person I’m married to, because after I’m done working and vacuuming and getting spit up on and reading stories and issuing positive discipline and paying the phone bill and filing my taxes there’s often not a lot left over for my long-suffering spouse, who persists in claiming to find me attractive despite my general state of haphazard disarray. The last few days have been especially busy, and I had a meeting for our son’s co-op playschool last night that started at eight, so when I dashed out of the house just before bedtime I figured this would be yet another night of one of us crawling into bed to find the other long unconscious (although usually I’m the one who passes out before prime time). So imagine my surprise when I dashed home, exhausted and slightly drunk from the 1.5 Sapphire and sodas I’d consumed at the meeting (hey, even ‘curriculum planning’ deserves a little party, right?), and feeling a little maudlin about the fact that the one time I got to hang out and consume alcohol with some friendly adults, it was at the cost of missing yet another opportunity to have ‘adult time’ with my spouse, to find the lights still on and the house all clean and my husband kind of wandering sheepishly around the kitchen, waiting for me, and I was glad because if he’d been asleep, I would have missed him.

“I am not a crapweasel. I am a supportive and loving husband and partner.”