All of my adult life, I dreamed of finding a man who would share my interests; someone who didn't mind grocery shopping or perusing malls and liked to cook. I wanted a man who, when the laundry basket started overflowing, understood that meant it was time to throw a load into the washing machine, and then did it; a man who, when he noticed the toilet paper spindle was empty, didn't cock his head quizzically and wait for it to magically reload, but replaced the roll himself. (When I was married the first time, I posted step-by-step instructions on how to remove and replace the toilet paper spindle -- for all the good it did. I also hung a basketball hoop over the laundry hamper so husband and children would aim for the hamper and not just in it's general direction.)
I yearned for a man with opinions about what china pattern he liked, what color to paint the walls and what style to decorate the house. I've never understood how a man can repeatedly eat meals from dishes that aren't his preference, comfortably settle into a chair he's had no interest in selecting, in a house that's been decorated to someone else's taste.
As the years passed, I became convinced that no such man existed. But, to my amazement, in the seventh decade of my life, I found such a man. He loves to cook and is better at it than I am. He accompanies me to malls while holding my hand and pointing out clothing styles and colors he believes best suit me, and has no objections to waiting while I ponder over my selections. He does laundry, vacuums and is a sensational seamstress. He even designed and sewed maternity dresses and gowns for his former wife during their 47-year marriage.
He suggests color schemes, furniture styles and decorating ideas for the house. We shop for silverware, linens and groceries and he has thoughts and ideas about all aspects of our lives together. He's everything I ever dreamed of and now I ask, What the hell was I thinking?
I can't believe I didn't appreciate how liberating it was to buy whatever I wanted, and never have anyone offer suggestions or second-guessing me. If I chose to live with chartreuse walls and orange shag carpeting, nobody would have cared. If I tossed all of my dishes into the trash compacter and devoted my life to paper plates, no one would have objected.
I knew he was different from our first communication on an online dating site. He admitted that he was looking for a wife. I said, "Sure you are; I'd like one too -- or a reasonable facsimile -- to wash my clothes, prepare my meals and clean my house." He refuted my assumptions, saying that he was accustomed to doing all those things himself.
My heart stirred ever so slightly.
He then said that since his wife's passing, he'd only dated young women with tight derrieres, firm boobs and air-brushed skin.
I assured him that we would never meet.
But, he wore me down, and we did meet, and despite my puckered skin, time-worn boobs and great-for-child-bearing hips, he wanted me because he liked my mind.
"I could have had a number of young, firm, beautiful woman," was the way he put it, "but I realized that what I wanted was you."
And he thought those words would make me swoon?
So, after 21 years of marriage and an equal number of gleefully happy divorced years, I not only agreed to remarry -- something I swore I'd never do again -- but I liked the idea. I was wise enough to recognize that this man was a cut above all the rest I'd known.
Years ago, I gathered all my friends together and told them that if I ever so much as eluded to words like Commitment, Marriage or Happily Ever After, they had my permission to line up and, one by one, smack me silly.
It's been 10 years since the Clobbering Ceremony and, I swear, my face still stings.