What’s Your Secret?

One of the best parts of working in the restaurant industry is the multitude of people I get to talk to over the course of my day.  These are people who I would never otherwise interact with, each with their own unique tapestry of life-experiences trailing behind them.  I’ve met captains of industry, CEO’s and movie stars.  I’ve met small business owners and people from just about every walk of life.   My absolute favorite by far, are the old couples coming in to the restaurant to celebrate their anniversaries.  I always have one question for them: what is the secret to a long marriage?  And I’ve gotten so many beautiful answers, I thought it might be worth writing down.

What is the secret to a long marriage?

“There is no secret.  Marriage is work.”  (wife gives him a cold stare) “…what I mean by that is, you’re constantly working to make the marriage better to find new ways to make the other person happy.  You’re gonna get comfortable in marriage, but you can’t get lazy.”

– – – –

“You have to be able to laugh at yourselves.  Life sends you some big heavy problems sometimes, and you just need to be able to have a sense of humor about things rather than get serious and angry at each other.”

– – – –

“Everyone says marriage is 50 / 50 —  It’s not.  Marriage is 60 / 40.  You always want to be the one giving that 60, because if both people are giving it more than half, working hard to make the other person happier and [the marriage] better then it’ll grow.”

– – – –

“We met when we were seventeen and we were married by nineteen.  I never thought I could love him as much as I did then, but love grows.  You find ways to love your partner, ways to keep that fire going.  And it’s not always *boom* *boom* like in the movies.  That’s the easy part.  It’s finding ways to love the other person in a deeper and more meaningful ways.”

“like football.”  the husband pipes in

“Like football?!”  (she is incredulous)

“She hates football.  But she’s been with me to a hundred football games because she knows I love it.  That’s love.”

“I don’t hate football.”

“Yeah but you don’t like it either.”  he winks.

The Orange Dress Part II: Cursed

I’m packing up my things.  The hampers I bought her now serve as baskets for me to haul my clothes away.  I see her orange dress, crumpled on the floor.  I scoop it up and shove it down to the bottom with the rest of my dirty laundry.  It’s a thoughtless gesture.  I know she’ll never wear it again.  I take it with me as a reminder, as a keepsake so I’ll never forget what it’s like to be cheated out of happily-ever-after.

I’m home, and in the days to follow I begin unpacking.  Funny the things I now have doubles of… two toothbrushes, two deodorants, two hair gels…  Now single… I have doubles of everything.  I have so much stuff, but I feel so empty.  My life is full of vast tracts of time where I sit and do nothing.  My life slips away from me, minute by minute.  Hour by hour.

The orange dress… it sits in a torn heap in the corner of my room.  There are probably thousands of dresses just like this, bought and sold around the world.  Dresses made out of the same fabric, produced by the same sewing machines and stitched together by the same needle and thread. Thousands of girls wore those dresses to dinners, parties, prom even.  Girls, who had their first slow dance in their dress, girls who got their first kiss, or even lost their virginity in their dress.  Not this dress– This Orange Dress is the shredded pelt of a slain monster.  It is the vile shadow that lives between the veil of sleep and awaken-ness, the bitter pain created by failed love This dress has been imbued with all the rage and violence of our a slowly dying relationship, and that anger has fermented and seethed into the fabric, filling it with sorrow and guilt.

I contemplate cutting that orange dress into strips.  I imagine weaving those strips into a thick braid, and those thick braids into a rope.  I see myself folding and bending that rope into a noose and lashing it up someplace high for her to find.  I can feel the scratch of the material against my cheek as I poke my head through the eyelet of the noose.   I can feel the coarse fabric against my throat as I position it just right.  I can picture the gradual weight of my own body pulling me downwards, with nothing but the thin rope of that orange dress holding me up.  I can feel the soft tissue of my larynx and windpipe crushing under my own weight, the sputtering choking sounds clinging to the very last traces of life in my throat.  The flesh of my neck flaying away like a slow Indian burn that pulls the skin from my meat like a roasted pig.  I imagine the world slowly going hazy, dim and dark as my body begins to shudder in its final thralls.

But most of all, I imagine Her… finding my blackened bloated body hanging in her room, and the look on her face and the noise that comes out of her mouth at that very moment when she realizes what I’ve done.

Eventually I shove the tattered orange dress into a drawer.  Surely this dress is cursed.

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