Archive for February, 2012

It’s not that we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, the little lady and me — the Wilma to my Fred; the Marge to my Homer; the Posh to my Becks.

Although, traditionally, we haven’t gone overboard. We never go overboard, so traditionally nontraditional are we.

We (thankfully) don’t need a random day in the middle of a random month during what normally is a long, horrible winter to remind one another that the home and life (with its requisite aromas and noises) we share in this one life we have been granted is gooey sweet and flowery aromatic and teddy bear cozy and hoodie-footie snuggly and over-priced diamond ankle bracelet worthy and not to be traded for all the bon-bons in Brussels or tea in China or eggplant in parmesan.

We are fortunate enough, the Juliet to my Romeo, to realize this every day of our tethered existence and therefore are spared the responsibility of losing our minds at the last second, trying to figure out what to buy her because it’s Valentine’s Day and if I don’t get her something sweet or smelly or cozy or snuggly that’ll mean I’m the worst husband ever and that very suggestion is just plain laughable.

Every day is Valentine’s Day for the Little Red-Haired Girl and this Charlie Brown.

Oh, she gets candy and cards (one from the cat and one from me) on every card-buying occasion, including Valentine’s Day. And she’ll get the requisite flowers/candy/plush toy/can of furniture polish, whichever costs the least, lasts the longest, and takes the least effort.

And I’m taking her bowling this weekend because football season is now over (a fact about which we have spoken some but not at great length since her team lost and my team failed to), and I need to remind her there are still sporting events at which she is more adept at kicking my butt. (Having yet again eliminated fanmanship of professional football teams.)

Also, there’s a lot less to do on the weekends now that there’s no football to stare at for hours on end. This Ralph might as well take his Alice out of the house to interact with other humans.

Maybe even have conversation with one another.

That last part is optional. I just threw it in because I was seven words short.

Every day is a roller coaster of love at Chez Mattison. To single out one day on the calendar would make all the others pale in comparison. And that’s not fair. There are no pale days for my Ellen and her Portia.

During a commercial break the other night, I asked the Edith to my Archie if she could remember all the wonderful Valentine’s Day things we have done for one another, lo these many decades, in celebration of the love we share.

She paused in her search for scars and bugs on the cat and reminded me of the year I bought her a tennis bracelet and dinner at a lovely restaurant in Saratoga Springs.

I had forgotten about the tennis bracelet (which goes around the ankle instead of the wrist; a decision I will never understand but with which I am in complete agreement). Probably because that was the last day I saw it. It’s on loan to the Gift Hall of Fame.

I didn’t remember that the bracelet year also involved dinner out. That’s surprising to me. That seems like a lot more effort that I am capable of or interested in. That could have been two gifts spread out over two years, instead of both being burned at the same time. Obviously wasn’t thinking that year. Or, I did something horribly husbandish and felt the need to make up for it.

Like that’s possible.

The particular Valentine’s Day of which I speak is so ingrained in the memory of the Veronica Lodge to my Reggie Mantel that after reminding me of it, she wasn’t even sure she was right.

“I thought you gave me the bracelet and then we went out to dinner,” she said. “Maybe I’m wrong.”

I asked her if we were living in our current house during this volcano of romance and she didn’t know that either.

All of which, I immediately decided, lets me from now until the end of time off the Valentine’s Day hook.

She doesn’t remember when I gave her one of the romantic-est non-Christmas and non-birthday gifts I have ever gone out of my way to have a store clerk pick out and wrap for me. This can only mean one thing: I can stick with cards, flowers and candy for the rest of my life.

What does she care? She won’t remember anyway. Inattentiveness can be very sexy.

OK. Maybe I’ll go the extra distance this week and make her a meat loaf in the shape of a heart and frost it with mashed potatoes. (Maybe a couple of asparagus spears to replicate the whole sappy Cupid arrow thing.)

That’s actually an inspired idea. The perfect gift to remind the one I love how much she means to me. It’s cheap, will take very little effort, and all the heavy thinking is already done.

Nothing says “I love you” more than new and creative ways to take the easy way out. Topped by an over-saturation of fat and calories meant to keep the “love” in the “love handles.”

Yep. This Ozzie still knows the direct route to his Harriet’s heart.


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Being born and raised in upstate New York has had its benefits.

For example, when it forgets to snow during the winter, this can be an enjoyable region of the country to call home.

On those increasingly rare occasions when the ground is covered by snow from November to March, however, the opposite is true.

Being born and raised in eastern Massachusetts, I imagine, also has its highs and lows. Nifty accents and access to a gigantic city being a couple that come to mind.

The wind beneath my wings knows more about this than I, having done this very thing.

Another one of the highs in her life, it should (but won’t) go without saying, came when she crossed (and eventually merged) paths with this upstate New Yorker.

This union has more often than not worked itself into a tolerable if not occasionally satisfying lifetime commitment. It has its ups and downs, but those directions are opposites, so they are to be expected.

Thankfully, none of the downs have been my fault. A fact to which the love of my life would agree the opposite is unmistakably true.

A major sporting event this weekend that happens to involve our two favorite teams has had me thinking of just how many opposites the two of us have brought into this relationship from the two separate lives we once lived. I have been thinking of these things in the off chance the relationship doesn’t survive the football game.

This is only a partial list; I can’t remember them all. But when we were growing up:

We were Ivory; she was Dove. (We are now both Dove, as Ivory eventually turned my skin to oak.)

We were Fantastik; she was Windex. (We are now Windex, as neither of us cleans windows, so it stopped mattering.)

We were Hellmann’s; she was Cains. (We are now Hellmann’s because I do most of the mayonnaise shopping and cooking and Hellmann’s rules. Unless we’re walking on the complete opposite side of the street and decide to break out the Miracle Whip. The Miracle Whip is a fine product that stands by itself, but please don’t for one second try to tell me it’s a straight-up swap for mayonnaise. True, they both can be substituted for one another in most of the same recipes, but they are entirely different beasts; one being much more of an acquired taste than the other. And none of which excuses the use of Cains.)

We were Viva; she was Bounty. Today, we’re Brawny pick-a-size. Marriage is about compromise.

Growing up in a rural community, we were raised with Scottissue. Growing up in the suburban hub of one of the nation’s largest cities, she was Charmin. Charmin has become a product I find difficult to keep from mocking simply because of its TV commercials with the cartoon dingle bears. The commercials are embarrassing, if you ask me. I wouldn’t be able to go through the line at the grocery with this item in my cart, knowing it is marketed nationally as the one that cartoon bears rely upon to prevent a velcro nightmare.

Also, she was over the roll; we were under the roll. Going under the roll is an inexplicable decision that is no longer a part of my life. Iwas long ago shown the light and can never imagine a life any different.

We were StarKist; she was Bumble Bee. We were chunk light; she was solid white.

My, how times have changed. Today, I’m the solid white and she’s the chunk light. Brands no longer play a role, as price is the deciding factor when Ibring home the canned tuna (and mix it into the Hellmann’s.)

We were Colgate; she was Crest. Today, we are not exclusive. When the old tube (squeezed exclusively from the bottom) is empty, a new brand with a new flavor is worked into the mix.

Keeping the marriage sparks jumping, one toothpaste flavor at a time.

We were Skippy; she was Peter Pan or Jiff (doesn’t really matter). Once she told me she wasn’t Skippy, I lost interest in her ability to judge peanut butter. There is only one true peanut butter. Please.

We were soda; she was tonic. This is a regional thing that thankfully disappeared shortly after I swept her off her feet and moved her to Green Acres.

Also a regional designation: She called them elastics. We (and by “we” I mean the remainder of humanity) called them rubber bands.

We were Gulden’s spicy brown; she was French’s yellow. Today, there are so many mustards available,Ihave no idea what we are. Ido know there are several mustards in our lives (and none of them yellow). Can never have enough mustard variety. They are all pretty tasty.

Can’t say that about ketchup. Ketchup has pretty much remained ketchup. We were DelMonte; she was Heinz. Now we’re store brand. It’s ketchup.

We also occasionally come from the opposite side of the field when it comes to our sports teams. (See Mets vs. Red Sox, 1986. Just don’t say you heard it from me.) One of the things we enjoy sharing is our love of sporting events; chief among these, professional football. But here again, she being from the Bay State and me being from the Empire State, we still find occasion to go our separate ways. This weekend is no different.

On Sunday evening, while she’s screaming at the television because of this stupid play and that dumb call and this referee who is obviously biased and that announcer who apparently likes one team more than the other, I’ll be slumped on the floor in a corner, facing the wall, shivering like a scorned chihuahua in February, probably rocking back and forth, in a distant, dark room somewhere upstairs, until my Monday morning work alarm goes off.

Being a life-long fan of one of the two remaining NFL playoff teams, Ihave spent the past two weeks battling anxiety and nerves over the outcome of the final game of the season, knowing full well — and completely ignoring the fact — that no matter what I say or do, I cannot affect the final score. I am not, however, going to tempt fate.

But that doesn’t detract from the fact that in the living room chair right next to me sits a person who, through no fault of her own, was born and raised — and eventually plucked from — the land of the other team.

She has thus far handled the situation well.

I have not.

She has said she can’t lose, because even though that other team from her home “state” is her first choice, she has become a fan of the team for which I live and breathe and die (and bleed blue), so she will be happy no matter who wins.

And I am most assuredly the opposite.

I might need a Kleenex. She’ll probably hand me a Puffs.

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