There Ain't No Pause Button in the Throes of Hankering, Part One

When Mrs. G. met Mr. G, she was not looking to fall in love, marry and get pregnant in fifteen months, but when you meet a kind, handsome Italian man, declare your love in front of a Justice of the Peace and willfully reinterpret diaphragm instructions because of an aversion to the gooey, unspeakable jelly, these things happen.

Mrs. G. isn't known for her organizational skills and her idea of longterm planning involves deciding at 5:00 what to pretend to make for dinner at 5:30. She's not being blithe and amusing when she tells you that she just sort of stumbled into the whole deal. Happily, starry-eyed and confident. But just as Mr. G. might have considered that she used her oven to store her hot rollers and paper towels, she might have deliberated the following:

All of the people reminding her that he was way older -- seventeen years older to be exact. And, looking back, Mrs. G. can understand all of the concern. But Mr. G. had no prior marriages, no children, no nasty baggage, no history of cradle robbing and he didn't live with his mother. His family initially appeared was normal and, above all, he was cute. But more than any of this, Mrs. G. was born old. She was a serious kid and a more serious teenager. From the get go, she has gravitated toward older friends. She sowed her wild oats for about three months in college. She hit it hard and called it a day. She wasn't into angst or tempestuous relationships. Mrs. G. was attracted to calm and quiet. Mr. G. evened her out.

So Mrs. G. usually reserves judgement when she hears of dramatic age differences between couples, except when her daughter counters with comments like, "You mean to tell me that if I came home and told you I was marrying a bartender 17 years older than me, you wouldn't have anything to say about it?" Mrs. G. fake smiles and says, "I doubt it. It's your life." But actually behind her fake smile, Mrs. G. is mentally throwing herself on the ground and having an Odysseus-length tantrum at J.C. Penney's like her daughter did at eighteen months when Mrs. G. refused to buy her a fucking stuffed, purple Barney. All Mrs. G. can really say about substantial age differences is that hers has worked and she is reluctant to decree who should love who under nearly all circumstances. Lord knows, we all deserve it.


What she should have really paid attention to were those first few visits to his apartment because, reader, there were some red flags aflapping. Like the jumbo tower of newspapers stacked against one wall in his kitchen. When Mrs. G. asked him what the deal was with all the old papers, he told her they were a project he was working on. She waited for him to elaborate on the details of the project. He didn't. Apparently, the the accumulation and stacking of the papers was the project. At the time, her brain bathed in love chemicals, Mrs. G. thought how quirky, how charming, how...awesome. She had it bad. And it was good.


She sighed at his walls and walls of books in Mr. G's apartment and never once considered that she would be boxing and moving the bastards from house to house for the next rest of her life.


She excused herself to the bathroom and marvelled at how clean and tidy he kept his place. In hindsight, this was the most consipicuous, flagrant evidence that Mr. G. was hoping to get lucky truly loved her. 


His scrubbing of that tub was akin to the bower bird pimping his nest to attract the chicks. He was an animal in his determination to win Mrs. G's heart . It worked. Once he nailed kissed her that tub was never clean again. Nothing was ever clean again. But that old love? Blind.

Depending on the species, the bower ranges from a circle of cleared earth with a small pile of twigs in the center to a complex and highly decorated structure of sticks and leaves — usually shaped like a walkway, a small hut or a maypole — into and around which the male places a variety of objects he has collected. These objects — usually strikingly blue in hue — may include hundreds of shells, leaves, flowers, feathers, stones, berries, and even discarded plastic items or pieces of glass.

Serving her his Eggs Benedict didn't hurt. To this day, they continue to ease the pain that he has not cleaned a tub since those heady days in 1989. He would probably point out, in his defense, that Mrs. G. has never changed the timing belt on one of their cars. And when she is cleaning the tub for the 8,248th time, she always takes a moment to appreciate the one time he did that.


The fact that he had specialized tools to make his coffee


should have tipped her off to the fact that she would never be able to pull her one car into their two car garage.


Everything Mrs. G. knew about coffee was sheathed in a freeze dried crystal and wrapped in a can.


But the biggest red flag of all was his devotion to this strange little contraption, the first one Mrs. G. had ever seen. Mr. G. went on and on how it was too superior to her Brother typewriter that could hold three paragraphs in its memory, that, really, this thing was the future. The future! She'll concede he was right on this one. But only to you.


Red flag? What red flag? Mrs. G. was highly distractable.


What should have given you pause about your past or present partner?

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Reader Comments (26)

On our FIRST date, he farted in the car, rolled down the window, kinda looked out and said "the geese are flying low".......what could be more romantic? All I could do was laugh.

Thirty years later, he's still farting and I'm still laughing

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrudy

His mother and the "gift basket" she left on the bed the very first time I came to visit. It was complete with a small framed picture of my the new boyfriend. Oh, that alone should have been a harbinger of things to come from my now MIL.

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermamaraby

Trudy, well at least he let his hair down early.

mamaraby, that sounds like a scene out from a horror movie! Mommy Dearest!

December 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

I should have known when the first gift he gave me was FOG LIGHTS for my little 1979 Volkswagen diesel, that cars would be his priority. Thirty -two years later, we have added on to the garage twice, just to store his growing collection of four wheel (and two wheel) treasures. He spends an inordinate amount of time searching out the next best thing in cars, trucks, motorcycles, and tires or accessories for all of the above. Our two sons are also genetically afflicted with the same vehicle obsession gene. On the upside, they all have basic vehicle repair and maintenance skills, and I get to drive a newer and dependable car these days. We will, however, run into difficulty if we ever have to downsize the garage. Sigh.

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllie

You two have made a great life together. Love is only part of what makes it all work.
Love, food, laughter, and knowing when to walk away and when to hold your own.
If anyone would have told you that life could be so good, would you have believed them?
I love a good story.

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermeredith@whynotpottery

How could you not fall for a handsome guy like that who cleaned the bathroom AND made Eggs Benedict?
My husband wooed me with his habit of putting the seat and the lid down on the toilet each and every time. Even when he said it was how he & his roomies impressed girls, I was still a sucker for such a (to me) romantic gesture. Our lack of dates were cute and smart for poor college students. Now they continue to save us money but... well, dates? What are those? (On the other hand, we do have kids in college and more waiting to leave the nest.)

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)

We met in college and Mr. Rainbow Motel (A reference to the movie "Animal House--by the way--and nothing whatsoever to do with happiness, positivity or leprechauns) was an Anthropology major. A long haired, bearded, weed smoking earring-ed, hiking boot wearing, brilliant Anthropology major. He then graduated and though he was still all of the above, he also had a job as a field archaeologist. Big Horn Mountains, Guatemala, Boulder, Colorado. And every day, he dressed exactly like he was headed to a "dig". Even when he wasn't going to work. The first time we went someplace even a little bit dressy, I was aghast to discover that the man (Whose "big deal" attorney father and Kappa Kappa Gamma mother both knew how to dress and then some) had no clue about the harsh dividing line between business casual, dressy, casual...and stuff you wear when you clean out the garage. Ladies, it's been an uphill battle. Do I want someone who dresses like George Hamilton? Hell, no! Would it be nice if he knew how to pick out clothes without the help of "Garanimals" tags to help him match stuff together? Dear God, yes! Would I trade him for someone else? Not on your life! Also...he's tardy everywhere he goes and always has been. That?? Yeah...that part needs some fixing.

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRainbow Motel

And Mr. G??? Totally hot. I hope it's okay to say that.

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRainbow Motel

Hahaaaa Garanimals!!!

The first time my now ex husband slept over he awoke to my cat ( who was a VERY one-person cat and quite possessive) on his pillow, pushing him off the pillow with her feet. Should have trusted her judgement.

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

This? Is a true fairy tale.

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterViolet

Ellie, I think you aren't alone in sharing your love with vehicles. I share mine with word working tools and baseball.

Meredith, we are at this great point in life where there are so many more peaks than valleys. The empty nest is slowly growing on me.

Karen, of course that toilet seat was down! Bower Bird!

December 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

Becca, I have a friend who insists that if her dog barks at you incessantly, she questions your character.

Violet, I don't know about a fairy tale but it is true, though I do get your point. It's a shame more fairy tales don't have stronger doses of reality in them.

December 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

He is absolutely gorgeous, and you are so lucky he fell in love with - of course, he is also really lucky you fell in love with him!

You guys are the best.

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Snow

Okay, I'm in love with a woman. (A magnificent, worldly, womanly, red-headed one)--and she never puts the toilet seat down. I have no idea how that works.

It keeps mystery in the relationship.

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSungmanitu

I love this story!!!
My guy took me to Mt Rainier on one of our first dates. Back then, he worked the graveyard shift. On our way down the mountain, he dozed off at the wheel & I woke him with a vocal alarm, while grabbing the steering wheel to prevent us from driving off the road & into a snow embankment. He then proceeded to tell me about the guy he saw in the snow - who was wearing a Hawaiian shirt & straw hat. What could be more charming & adorable? And after all, he was one of the hardest workers I'd ever met.
Then there was the boa constrictor that roamed freely in the basement that he rented - and the fact that he ate directly from cans (heated on a warming plate) - so he could avoid doing dishes. He was such a loving pet owner & efficient with his house chores!
Then there was the time I wanted to go to the beach for a weekend. He quit his job so he could take me. While there, we spent most of our time helping people get their cars unstuck from the sand.
And I'll never forget this: we were out window shopping one day & at one point, I fondled a couple of lovely brass candle holders. A few days later, he presented them to me, wrapped & tied with a bow. Spontaneity with a generous spirit!

December 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda J

Dave was renting a small room addition at a friend's house, probably no more than 400 sf with a sleeping loft. This room addition had a nice, big closet, a private bathroom, and was the location for the household laundry facilities. He had a HUGE and quite lovely coffee table from Pottery Barn, covered from stem to stern with... umm... crap. Papers, empty glasses, coffee cups, magazines, scraps of paper with random numbers or notes written on them ("Dirt Nacells on Friday" or "17-3-254 for Keith" ... weird stuff like that). In the center of the room was a pile of laundry. I asked him if that was laundry waiting to be done. No. It's clean. Just never made it into the dresser and closet (no more than 10 feet away).

He was a confirmed bachelor and a slob. So I knew what I was in for right from the start, but hey I loved the guy anyway. Thirteen years later, I have managed to train him to get his dirty clothes to the hamper, eventually. He's pretty good at helping with laundry now and even helps keep things tidy. The little scraps of paper with random numbers? Yeah, I still find those everywhere. I ask what they are, he answers, we laugh, he throws them away, eventually.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDATdeborah

I noticed fairly early that the man doesn't talk. We usually went to movies or snuggled and watched TV. At the time, fresh from the hands of a hugely irritating, highly vocal control freak, I found this restful. I still do, except when we NEED to talk about something, particularly something laden with emotional dynamite, and he's close as a clam, pursuing his "If I don't talk about it, maybe she'll forget it happened/I did that - take your pick.

On the other hand, he's completely dependable and he never leaves the seat up.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBriget

My husband and I met at a friend's wedding. I came up from school to help set-up for the reception and do food and then enjoyed/helped out at the wedding and reception. I had known the family my whole life but had never met the son's best friend as they met after I wasn't around much. I met him while setting up and he was obviously interested in me. I wasn't looking to date at all and he was SO not my type. I was a tattooed city girl anthropology major with plans to go to graduate school and he was a cowboy and farmer who had lived outside of a town with a total population of 300 for his whole life. And yet somehow I could not get him out of my head. He told me later that he had no intention for anything serious, that he just thought my tattoos and intelligence were totally hot and he had nothing to lose by hitting on me. We never got together that weekend but somehow didn't lose touch. We were long distance for the first year and only saw each other one weekend a month for most of that year. I was totally oblivious to his partying because of it (despite the fact that he often called me while he was partying). He didn't have a car for the first 3-4mos and when he finally got another car it was a geo storm with a broken muffler and it was so LOUD. He would show up at 12 or 1am on Saturday morning after getting off work and instead of thinking "Oh my gawd he's going to wake up all the neighbors" I would think "Yay! he's here"(I still think that most of the time, even 10yrs in). My then roommate still talks about how loud that car was. When he would visit he would do the dishes after each meal I made, once we moved in together after a year long distance I discovered that was a courting tactic and that he doesn't do dishes. Like once a week if I'm lucky and his version is to just cram as much as he can into the dishwasher and leave everything else. After years of arguments about it I've become resigned to it. More seriously though, I really was in the dark and then eventually in denial about how severe he drinking problem was. It almost destroyed our marriage. He's 3 1/2 years into complete sobriety and I don't regret staying with him. He drinks iced tea in the summer and hot tea in the winter by the bucket full and always has which should have been a red flag but I thought was charming until the first time it made us late because he forgot his tea and had to go back for it because the tea at other places sucks. He is never on time and can sleep through just about any alarm. And yet... he changes the oil in my car, he does much of the backbreaking and less spectacular work in the yard, he's survived my brand of crazy thus far, and he loves our me and our kids like nobody else could so I'm glad I was oblivious to the red flags.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather in Oregon

I also married older by 15 years. When we married I was 32 and he 47. I still don't have any regrets about the age difference. We both were divorced and single parents, and an awful lot of baggage came with it, but so far we have worked it out.

What should I have noticed despite all the love chemicals bathing my rational brain? I did not realize how much TV he watched/watches. When we got married I had not had cable in 8 years. I didn't even get many local channels. I just watched a few things on my laptop and movies I rented. I hate the sound of ads, don't like to just have it on for noise. He watches so much....he likes having it on even if he is doing yard work, so he can come inside and check the score. Part of this is his love of sports, has to constantly be watching a game. He also got in the habit of just endlessly watching movies on tv during a crappy first marriage and lonely hours late at night. Later in life as a single dad the anxiety would creep up on him once the kids were in bed, so rather than lay in bed anxious, he would stay up watching tv until he was so tired he wouldn't have trouble falling asleep. Also, his hearing is not quite great, so it gets louder and louder. My hearing? Really sensitive. Kills me to have that super loud tv blather.

Now he doesn't have the loneliness or anxiety, but he still has the habit. I go to bed alone every night. It really bugged me at first, but now I kind of relish the time to myself.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermolly

Buy him some nice earphones, molly. With love.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Snow

the 16" red beard he sported on our first date ... now it's the 16" mustache that gets more TLC than I spend on my hair on a weekly basis. the collections of "stuff" for projects, it's only grown and now takes up a good 1/3 of the moving truck. oh, and the very first night after we were married, he took me to a gay bar in the town he'd been living in and, feeling magnanimous, bought a round of tequila shots for the bar, taking them around to all 10 or so patrons in there. as i was trying to interpret the strange looks he was getting, he comes back to me with the last drink, and when i asked what he was saying to the others, he proudly smirks that it was "I'm the tequila fairy, would you like a drink?!" Sigh. He's straight as they come, but i'm still often embarrassed by his fearlessness to say most anything, and willingness to be the oddball. i love it more than i let on, but it still makes me cringe.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbethany

Widowed in 2004.
Not remarried but in a relationship.
Mr J loves to embarrass me to his endless delight.
While shopping in wally world during cold & flu season,
Mr J walks up to the pharmacist, never bothering to stand in line.
At this point he asked loud enough for the people who are waiting their turn,
"My wife wants to know where the viberators are at?" He is looking straight at me.
Naturally everyone inline turns to look at me. By this time I am almost running
pushing the cart down the isle to go hide by the dog food or anyplace.
Was I mad? Hell yes! Over the next few weeks we laughed about it.
Now it was my turn to return some laughs at his expense.
Mr J and I are in a local drug store, when he see's some friends from work.
While Mr J and his friends are chatting away, I walked over picked up two box's
of mens hair color to cover gray. I walked back to where everyone is talking
held up the box's and asked "Is this the color you wanted?" Mr J never
one to be embarrassed smiles and said "Yes". 5 years and counting we are still together.
Gotta love a man with a sense of humor.

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda C in Seattle

We went to high-school in the 80s. I liked U2 and other normal people. His musical taste? Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and, help us all, Elvis. Not just fun 50s Elvis either--the sentimental 70s Elvis singing about walking through towns in the rain searching for you in the cold Kentucky rain and the child was born and its mother cried in the ghetto. Gah! I somehow thought "Ok so he likes old music" but I didn't realize that meant he was set in his musical tastes and would never change nor add new musicians to his list--ever!

Regardless, wouldn't trade him for the world--although if something tragic happened to the 19 Bob Dylan discs we own, I wouldn't mourn long!

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteredj

No red flags. I knew the minute I saw him though oddly, in another way, I had no idea. I figured I'd never see him again so I was myself. He's always himself. We talked for five hours surrounded by a party. He asked me to spend the night and I said no, thinking I was too old for that behavior. After another hour I thought I was nuts for caring what anyone thought! I might never see this man again and I needed him, if only one night. That was over fourteen years ago. Here's a song he wrote for me several years after - - now how could anyone resist that? (I may have posted it here before, but it is a good song.)

December 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternaomi d

It wasn't a date, but it was the first time I thought I had met him. I walked into my best friend's room in college and there's a guy sitting there just hanging out (her's was the hangout room for lots of people). I went to introduce myself and he yells "Are you kidding me, you've met me!" Apparently, he'd been in her room with me once before when 1) there were at least 12 people in a tiny dorm room and 2) he was sitting up on her bunk bed above her bed. That's right, the "first" time I met my husband he totally yelled at and scolded me immediately.

I came to find out that my husband is just LOUD, not always yelling, though it sounds that way. I once told this story to a slightly tipsy table full of friends (some of whom had known my hubby since he was in middle school) and they ALL bust out (like scare a whole restaurant full of people-type of busting out) laughing because anyone who knows my husband knows he is always loud (yelling) and scolding!

December 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmile

SUCH a slob. In fact, the only reason I ever saw his apartment was because on one drunken night I forced the issue and when he finally brought me there, I felt obligated to call adult social services. Just the other day I asked him what his exit strategy was...he confessed he was looking into renting the apartment across the hall and pretending the clean space was his--that would have been less work than cleaning his own apartment.
Swear to God.
And the drinking. I should have paid more attention to that, too.

December 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Girl in Wisconsin

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