In honor of Valentine’s Day, this post goes out to the woman who gave me my first serious piece of relationship advice: my grandmother’s neighbor, Lisa. The advice was this: never marry the man you’ve been having an affair with.
“I’ve tried it,” she told me, “and it doesn’t work. If he cheated on his first wife, he’ll cheat on you too. Always remember that!”
My adolescent self was not quite sure what do with this information (nor is my adult self, for that matter), but I appreciated it nonetheless.
Lisa is a wonderfully flamboyant Yankee ex-pat who talks nonstop and appears to be in a constant state of mild intoxication regardless of how much or little alcohol she has in fact consumed. Her current husband, Joe, is a down-home country boy whose main function is to sit and shake his head while Lisa talks. They’re an interesting couple.
The last time I saw Lisa, she was lecturing my sister on the dangers of monogamy.
“When you’re in love,” she told my sister solemnly, “everything is wonderful. Then you get married, and reality sets in.” She turned to her husband, sitting on the other side of the table, and hollered, “It sure set in for us, didn’t it, Joe?”
Lisa nodded and went on, “These days, I can honestly say that I love Joe. But –“ and here she rounded on her husband again – “you used to be such an asshole! Don’t you agree, Joe? But ever since you stopped drinking, you’ve been just great.”
For the record, they’d been married for 12 years, and Joe had been on the wagon for about six months.
So Joe, in revenge, challenged her to remember the date of their wedding anniversary.
“Dammit, Joe!” she exclaimed. “You’re still an asshole!” After racking her brains for a minute or two, she concluded that it had to be the 7th.
“Nope,” said Joe, “it’s the 8th. Oh no, wait – you’re right. The 8th was my first wife.”
Joe is a man of few words, but he uses them to great effect.