My husband is a great guy-handsome, smart, normal. Makes me wonder how I got him, really, because my romantic beginnings weren't too auspicious. Even my pretend romances didn't go well; I never was chosen as the wife when I played "house" with other kids.
Let me 'splain. No, is too long. Let me sum up:
For a brief space there in Tennessee, my aunt's family lived near us-only about an hour away. They lived in a house I just loved. It was yellow, my favorite color, and had a loft or something of the sort. The yard was beautiful. And there was a big room in that house where the cousins all played when our families got together. It was full of the usual accouterments of childhood, but what we played at most often was "house".
There were three girls and two boys playing at house which meant there were two "couples", and one of the girls had to play the part of the baby, kid-whatever. You might guess...yep, 99% of the time I was the baby, and the other 1% of the time Annie, my sister, was trying to convince Nate or my cousin J to chose me for their pretend wife as I stood with arms crossed (eyes too, possibly) and stamped my foot in the corner, refusing to have anything more to do with baby bottles or fake naptime. Eventually, they stopped giving me the old fishy eye and did as she asked, but I can tell you, I wasn't treated well at all! I was like the poor pock-marked first wife from The Good Earth.
Fortunately, it didn't cripple my self-esteem too badly, and I was able to grow up into the strange little girl I was always meant to be.
Unlike my sisters, I was romantically handicapped. The first boyfriend I had was in fifth grade, and he only stayed with me because I was the best friend of the girl he really liked. That was actually a repeating cycle, too, because he really adored Michelli. If they broke up, I was the occasional sub for her until they'd get together again.
In sixth grade I got set up with a boy at the lunch table (could have been Michelli's doing), and he offered to walk me to my bus after school. Well, we started out with our little entourage of curious friends, and when we got to my bus I just kept on walking and talking until we reached his bus. Then I said good-bye and shook his hand. He was so mortified by this role reversal that he refused to talk to me the next day.
There was another boy I had a long-standing crush on, so I declared my admiration for him while he was standing in line with his classmates before recess. I sang to him in front of everyone-several verses, couple choruses-while he withdrew like a turtle into its shell, pretending I wasn't there. He, too, would never talk to me again.
But, as you can see, I used their tolerance for embarrassment as an indicator of whether or not they should be with me, and that was really quite smart.
Because I was definitely one of those kids. Do I mean the one who got up in front of her fourth-grade class when the teacher was absent and did some crazy 1960s-inspired dance for several minutes? Check. The little girl telling jokes to her sixth-grade class? Check. The one donning the witch's hat at the classroom Halloween party and singing "The Witch is Dead" from Wizard of Oz while kicking my legs in can-can fashion? Check! I think it was my best friend Michelli who summed it up best when she gave me a key chain for my twelfth birthday that said, "I'm Not Weird, I'm Gifted!"
And I'm sure that handsome guy I married would agree (It's in our marriage contract: I do hereby vow never to refer to my lovely wife as weird, but always to assert her worth as a gifted individual.).
Maybe as a kid he wouldn't have thought much of the girl in the mismatched, brightly-colored outfit and psychedelic canvas shoes. If I had sung at him, I would have landed in the nearest mud puddle without a doubt. But as adults we're meant to be together for sure! Though, I did recently embarrass him at the public library, but that's another story completely.