About twice a year I pick a fight with the Beast.
The most recent blow-up began over a sweater.
After work on a recent weeknight:
Foodie: What’s in the bag?
Beast: Just a tennis sweater I picked up at a vintage store.
Foodie: Do you know what I almost did today? I almost texted you to say you better not be coming home with a bag. Do you know that you’ve come home with a bag of crap almost every night for the last two weeks?
Beast: That is not true!
Foodie: Yes, it is. We don’t need more crap in this crap house! You have a real problem. Do you know that?
Beast: But look at this sweater! Let me try it on for you.
Foodie: It’s from the Gap?! How in hell is that vintage? And look at that blue! It looks cheaps. Ewww! And it feels cheap. I hate it!
Beast: Why are you being so mean?
Foodie: You know what else? I’m not washing that sweater. You can wash it if you’re so smart.
Beast: Why are you being so mean?
Foodie: Do you know that you have at least two other sweaters like that one? Why could you possibly need so many tennis sweaters?
Beast: I have four. But but one is a vest, one has The Bay colours and the other has Wimbledon colours.
Foodie: They are the same fucking sweater. You have a problem, mister. And the belts! How many braided leather belts do you have right now?
Foodie: Three?!?! Are you kidding me?
Beast: No, but they are all remarkably different.
Foodie: Those are the same. You are crazy. I’m going to count how many Ralph Lauren Polo oxford button-ups you have. I won’t even bother counting the short-sleeved ones. [Counting] Okay. You have 20. This is madness.
Beast: This is fashion! Why are you picking on me?
Foodie: Do you know that you have more shoes than I do? That’s insanity. After you bought those ugly penny loafers you went and bought almost the exact same pair.
Beast: I gave those penny loafers aways! And I feel sorry for you that you don’t know the difference between a shoe with a tassel and a penny loader. I feel sorry that you can’t tell the difference between three radically different braided belts. And I bought the tassel shoes, the Bass Weejuns, so that we could have matching shoes. You are being so mean that I am never going to wear those shoes with you for matching outfits.
Foodie: And what about these baby alligator slippers? They look like girl shoes!
Beast: They do not! [Trying them on] I actually think these look tremendous without socks.
Beast: I don’t understand why you’re being so terrible to me right now, especially because you know I’m not feeling very good about myself these days.
And just like that, I regretted everything that came out of my mouth (even though I still think it’s all true–except for the new sweater: it’s not ugly.) We walked to the video store to pick up the HBO series Rome because we decided it was time to rewatch it. Along the way, I apologized again and again and had no real excuse for being mean, other than a deep-seated, pent-up resentment, perhaps, over me feeling as though I always end up doing the lion’s share of domestic duties. The Beast reminded me of all the ways he’s improved over the last couple of years and that whenever he does suggest a dinner idea I usually poo-poo it.
I felt terrible.
When people ask me how long we’ve been together I usually say, “Either six, seven or eight years.” Only last week, after realizing that the film Mona Lisa Smiles, which we saw together just before we officially began courting one January, came out in December 2003, did we determine that it will be 10 years this January. It’s officially the longest relationship I’ve ever had–and the Beast’s only one.
People also ask if we’ll get married. We won’t. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love weddings. I don’t think I’ve ever not cried at one. When the Beast’s older brother tied the knot, their mother consoled me with tissues and back rubbing while I sobbed uncontrollably when the happy couple exchanged their vows.
Maybe it’s the quivering in their voices, how their eyes become glossy, how fathers and mothers hold each other, how grandmothers and grandfathers look at each other with pride, perhaps remembering their own nuptials, and maybe it’s seeing people, whose own partners aren’t there on account of separations or even death, alone now. The variety of relationships, the promises made in front of a sea of loved ones, the beauty, the joy, the temporality and sadness of it all just overwhelm me.
True to form, I cried at the perfect wedding of my old friend Alex to her beautiful beau Ryan on Saturday at her grandparent’s farm in St. Mary’s. After Alex and Ryan exchanged vows, and after the Beast gave me a linen cornflower blue handkerchief to dab my eyes with, I asked him what he would write to me should we ever exchange vows, which we won’t. He started talking like Robert Evans reading from his autobiography, The Kid Stays in the Picture: “Was she beautiful? You bet. Was she a bitch? Oh brother, don’t you know it! Did she have brains? Oh, man. But she had legs, too, and a mouth on her as big as the Hollywood sign.”
I laughed all the way to the bar set up in the barn, where we were quickly greeted with glasses of sparkling wine and surrounded by a mouth-dropping spread of meats, cheeses and crudités courtesy of Actinolite restaurant, who also made dinner.
And then I tried to think of what I might say to the Beast on our fictional wedding. But when I thought of the words, my eyes welled up uncontrollably with tears and they ran hot and fast down my face. So I asked him to talk like Robert Evans again.
And he did.