The nineties were a heady time. Flannel shirts, grunge, Janet Reno jokes. I remember it well.
It was in the flurries and scurries of the nineties that I met my wife. It is an interesting story.
It starts with a poker game. I was sitting around the table with my brother, a gamer, a pseudo-philosopher and a hacker. The shots were flowing. Uma was dancing with Travolta on the TV and Marlon Brando was sitting by the fire in the corner with Neil Young and Pocahontas.
The gamer was forming a tin-foil hat for his head to keep the alien rays out and so he was distracted. The philosopher folded (you gotta know when to fold-em) and my brother was raising the pot. We kept going higher and higher, with the hacker matching me each time. Finally, my brother was out, and I went all in.
The hacker couldn’t match, but he wanted to stay in. Marlon Brando stopped mumbling and looked over. The pot was huge and the hacker was out of funds.
“Well”, I said, “What do you have?”
He thought for a moment, and then said, “I can hack Santa’s computer.”
I said “No way.”
He said, “Way” – cause it was the 90s.
The gamer said, “Woah…” but he might have been talking about his new tin foil hat design.
Brando and Young muttered something about the exploitation of the elves, but the atmosphere was too thick.
I said, “What would that do?”
“I can get you his naughty list”
And that is how I got a hold of Santa’s naughty list in 1995.
You all know who you are.
But when I saw Susan’s achievements that landed her on the naughty list, I was smitten. I had to meet this woman. Such daring! Such audacity! Such creativity! I had to meet her.
I couldn’t even repeat the things she did that got her on the list, because I don’t want to give the children ideas. But I couldn’t get her out of my head.
I began scheming.
I knew that she was planning on attending church camp with her family, so I signed up. Maybe we could cause some chaos together. Maybe I too could get on Santa’s naughty list! Oh the places we could go together. But banned from Santa forever, but banned together! I have chills just thinking about it.
I dreamed in my bed at night. My sweat soaked the sheets. Oh the naughtiness! What decadence! What a woman. What a woman!
We could run with scissors. We could NOT finish our plates. We could order dessert and skip the veggies! We could stay up all night and watch QVC with a devil-may-care attitude! We could order Mexican food on Thanksgiving. Oh the wickedness we could get up to! So completely and totally improper! We would make the world blush!
When I got to the camp, I stopped for ice-cream in a small shop and in she walked. The silence descended and in my mind’s eye, a chorus began to sing Orff. Her eyes! Her hair! Her wickedness! I was smitten. The future was pregnant with possibility!
So I hugged her. And she hugged back.
Yada, yada, yada – we were married a few months later.
Almost none of this is true. Some of it is, but as far as I know, she has never been on Santa’s list. Marlon Brando might have been a dream. The nineties were weird. We did pick up Mexican food on Thanksgiving once and she still doesn’t finish her plate, and sometimes she eats pie for dinner, so all of that is true.
Oh the other things I could tell you, too!
But here is what is true.
Her eyes smile peace, and when they lock with mine, I am home.
Today, December 27, we have been married for 27 years – I think. Neither one of us can do math.
What is the secret to a long and happy marriage?
Neither one of us read marriage books, go to conferences, or follow the fads. We are just gloriously ourselves, respect each other, love each other and always defer to each other.
We have never asked “Who is in charge” because when the two become one flesh, that question is an unwelcome intruder, like a mother-in-law on the wedding night.
Just keep your marriage vows and ignore the experts. You’ll be fine.
Lots of love, my wicked awesome wife! You are spectacular.
And the future is still pregnant with possibility. Even more, I should say.