One of the downsides to new relationships is that you have to exercise restraint. You must do everything in your power to disguise your disgusting habits, so that the guy or gal you’re tying to impress won’t get grossed out and run off.
The more time you spend together, the more likely it is that private habits—like burping or stinking up the bathroom—become public.
The question is not whether this person has gross habits or not (they do!). It’s whether or not you’re willing to live with their stink.
Usually it’s the guy who breaks these barriers first. The number of times he burps or farts in front of you is usually relative to how comfortable he is around you, and how much he thinks he can get away with, without compromising his progress.
Girls usually have ample time to feign disgust before they eventually let one slip, too.
Not in my case.
We were in a bookstore, of all places, when it happened. Jordan was sitting on a footstool thumbing through Cat’s Cradle, and I was standing next to him scanning the stacks.
I don’t know how it happened. I was just standing there when…
…All of a sudden…
I didn’t do it on purpose; we had only been dating a few months. It just, sort of, came out.
I glanced quickly at Jordan whose eyes were still focused on an excerpt from his book. For a second I thought maybe he didn’t hear it. And if he did hear it, maybe he didn’t know what it was. It came and went so quickly that it could have easily been mistaken for a mouse squeak or his footstool scratching along the floor.
But there weren’t any mice, and he knew the sound hadn’t come from the object he was sitting on.
He slowly closed his book keeping his eyes focused down.
That’s when I realized he wasn’t actually reading, rather he was pretending to read so he could figure out how to react.
“Did…you…just…fart?” he asked raising his head.
“Yes you did; you just farted.”
Fight or flight? Fight or flight?
I turned red and disappeared as fast as someone without superpowers can.
Jordan stood at the scene of the crime for a few minutes soaking in the beauty of the moment, because this was a beautiful moment for him. It remains one of his favorites, ranking first among our “firsts”.
I ran while he reveled: He stood there smiling for several minutes, then marked the occasion by taking a picture with his phone—a picture he would later turn into a 200-piece jigsaw puzzle and give me for Christmas.
When he finally caught up to me somewhere around the self-help books, he didn’t say a thing. He simply walked up next to me, looked ahead to where I was looking, and he farted, too.
It was the week before our wedding and we were lying in bed. Jordan was reading and, as he usually is when reading in bed, he was close to falling asleep.
I was staring at the ceiling thinking about our wedding vows.
We had decided to recite informal vows at a bonfire that was only a few days away. I had been working hard, trying to come up with the words that would aptly express how I felt about him, but I was starting to get concerned.
What if I was approaching it all the wrong way? By definition, vows are supposed to be promises, but I had focused quite a bit on what I love about Jordan. I was planning to say a lot about what he does for me, not necessarily what I promise to do or be for him. Then my mind went blank. For everything he does for me, I didn’t really know what I did for him.
I had to ask, so I turned my head.
“Baby?” I said.
“Hmm,” he replied without looking up from his book.
Like any girl who is trying to extract information from a tired guy, I blurted out all the thoughts in my head:
“Well, I’m thinking about our vows and how they can go any number of directions. Are we supposed to declare what we love about each other or are we supposed to focus on what we promise to offer each other?
“Hmm,” he said again. This time his “hmm” was more of a grunt than a “go on,” but I forged ahead.
“I’ve been so focused on why I love you that I’m not even sure why you love me. You do so many things for me: You sing me songs, you make me laugh, you comfort me, you always consider my feelings…basically, you’re wonderful. And I’m just wondering, with everything that you do for me, what is it that I do for you?”
Still cradling the book, he curled his lip and looked at me out of the corner of his eyes.
“You annoy me,” he said.
No Place to Hide
I’m not the healthiest person around but I do try to avoid foods that contain ingredients I can’t pronounce. So I was surprised the first time I found Crystal Light powder mix in our cupboard.
I scowled and gave Jordan a look that he interpreted as, “Why do you have death packets in our kitchen?”
He has never forgotten that look. And whenever he eats something that’s less than organic, he mimics my inner superiority complex and in his best toddler voice asks the very question I usually keep to myself:
“Why are you eating that crap?”
He answers himself with a very manly guttural response: “Because it goooood, that’s why.”
It’s not the most positive way to communicate, but as far as food goes it works for us.
Until last night.
A very hot night in Costa Rica.
We were sitting down to dinner and I was particularly warm because I had spent the previous half hour cooking over a hot stove. I felt gritty from sunscreen and smelly from sweat and I was really looking forward to a cool shower or a splash in the pool.
That’s when Jordan pulled out a 2-liter bottle of Crystal Light that he had mixed up earlier and stashed in the freezer.
The liquid had turned to slush and the bottle was dripping with cold sweat. I started salivating. Not only did I want a sip, I wanted to swim in the ice-cold waters of Aspartame while a waterfall of malic acid washed over me.
As he always does, Jordan saw that he held the object of my desire and he flaunted it, taking a drawn out swallow.
“Oooh, I see you’ve noticed my death juice and would like some,” he said taunting me. “Well, I’ll give you a sip but you have to earn it.”
He told me I had to say: “Crystal Light; that’s so disgusting.”
But he didn’t just say it in a normal voice. No. He contorted his face, stuck out his chin and used his Cinderella-step-sister-meets-Cartman-from-South-Park voice, so it sounded more like this:
“Cryyyyyyystaaal llliiiiiiiight, that’s sooooooo disgusting.”
I tried to do it. I did. But neither attempt met his expectations so I gave up.
Ten minutes later he relented. “Let’s try something else,” he said. “I want you to say, ‘Please may I have some nutritious delicious crystal light?’”
There were no funny voices or strings attached to this request so, even though I didn’t agree with the “nutritious” part I complied.
Satisfied at last, he placed the bottle on the table in front of me and said:
“You see Michelle, marriage is about compromise.”
image from taste.com.au
Before I move to a tropical climate, I dream about all the positives of the place: sunsets at the beach, pina coladas, a cool ocean breeze. It’s only after I arrive that I remember what I don’t like about beach-side dwelling: things that crawl.
In our first day in Costa Rica we saw a scorpion. It was hiding in our neighbor’s reusable grocery bags—the ones I was sitting next to in the back of the jeep on the way to the grocery store.
That night a cockroach flew through the window while I sat at the kitchen table writing. Luckily, Jordan’s powers of observation are more powerful than my own and he had already killed it by the time I realized what “it” was.
Later yet, a spider the size of a small monkey appeared on the family room floor. It was as if a third person had walked in the front door and sat in front of the TV. This thing was so big I could have combed its hair. I didn’t. And not because it was too fast for me to catch. I would not have touched that thing with King Kong’s comb.
It was the kind of spider that sinks low when it crawls but perches up on all eight legs so it appears twice as tall before it runs. Actually, run isn’t the right word. I run. Spiders scurry. Its that light-on-the-legs movement that makes you feel like it’s scurrying right up your pant leg in the time it takes you to process that it’s moved from its original location.
I assumed a squatting position on the couch while Jordan grabbed the broom. The spider poised itself for a scurry. I made some ridiculous girly noise that even I didn’t know I was capable of while Jordan killed it with the broom. I briefly wondered who kills a spider with a broom other than housewives from the fifties but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to distract him from the objective.
Just moments after the incident Jordan was sprawled back in his original horizontal position on the couch half asleep. I, on the other hand, remained in a squat and wished Jordan wasn’t a geezer who falls asleep at 9 p.m. leaving me alone with all the creepy crawly things.
Now I crouch on chairs and put my feet up when sitting at the kitchen table, because I know more spiders lay in wait. It’s only a matter of time before I let my guard down and accidentally put a foot on the floor or get tired enough to lean back on the sofa, maybe even resting my neck against the back of the couch. I know as soon as I get too comfortable, that’s the moment the spider people will take their revenge and crawl across my shoulders or scurry over my toes.
At least now I have Jordan. When I used to travel alone, a spider sighting meant at least an hour of squealing and failed attempts at killing it before it ran into a corner that I spent the rest of the night staring at. Now, all I have to do is gasp and Jordan is on his feet, broom in hand.