Category Archives: married life

When in Europe, Don’t Bare Your Teeth

In preparation for our upcoming trip to the land of the forefathers, my husband the P-Dawg has been taking a crash course in Lithuanian by listening to Pimsler language CDs. There is nothing that pleases me more than quizzing him on his newly obtained knowledge and pronunciation.

“Let’s say someone comes up to you and starts talking in Lithuanian. What do you say?”

Aš nesuprantu.” (I do not understand.)

“Good, good. Okay, and what if you get lost?”

Ar j?s suprantate angliškai?” (“Do you understand English?)

“What about, ‘How much does this beautiful amber ring cost?”

Aš nesuprantu.”

“Excellent. Hey Jonas (turning to my son), are you going to help your father out in Lithuania?”

“No. He can just say, “Aš nesuprantu.”

But the P-Dawg is not the only one in need of tutelage. I haven’t been to Lithuania in almost twenty years. And while I still speak fairly fluently, I took it upon myself to Google the basics of culture and etiquette. When I was there in ’94, I had my mother to shoot daggers at me with her eyes anytime I was about to commit a cultural faux pas, but this time I’ll be on my own.

“One thing you never want to do when in Lithuania,” I informed the P-Dawg, “is to smile openly at a stranger on the street.”

“Why is that?”

“Because they’ll think you’re mocking them, or, worse yet, that you are an idiot.”

“Seriously?”

“Just don’t show your teeth. Also, it says here not to be surprised if Lithuanians appear dour or depressed. They are extremely good-hearted and hospitable people, but they have to feel comfortable with you before they start to open up.”

“Okay.”

“When you first meet someone, you should always address them by their honorific title and surname, not the familiar ‘tu’. And don’t try to hug anyone right off the bat.”

“Got it.”

“You’ll have to hold your fork in your left hand and your knife in your right. Always try a bit of everything and take small first portions because it’s rude to refuse seconds or thirds.”

“Not a problem.”

“Also, it says here that under no circumstances should you wear your ugly-a$$ Poker Stars T-shirt in public, or those god-forsaken brown sneakers you’ve had since 1996.”

“Does it really?”

“Yup. And please to carry bags and open doors for women, especially your wife.”

 

(Stay tuned for further installments in the series, “Ramas do the Fatherland.”)

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We of Little Faith

I was minding my own beeswax at the end of the pew before Mass started today when a little old lady came up to me and asked if I was in her Birthday Book yet. She had long white hair and bright pink lipstick and for a minute I thought maybe I’d gone down the rabbit hole.

“Your Birthday Book?” I blinked. “I don’t know what that is.”

“I pray for people on their birthdays” said the mysterious stranger. “What’s your name? I’ll put you on my list!”

Now, I’m usually a suspicious person by nature, but I signed myself right up. I mean, here was someone offering to pray for me free of charge, and I need all the prayers I can get.

I spelled out my full name and gave her my birth date, which she scrawled into a flowery little journal she’d whipped out of her purse. Then she asked for the P-Dawg’s info, which I of course provided, and then the kids.’

I thought that would be the end of it, but before I knew it she was asking me for my parents’ names and birthdays, and also my mother-in-law’s. Now I was starting to get a little uncomfortable, but it seemed uncharitable to deny the rest of my family the opportunity to be prayed for, as well. What was I supposed to say to her? No thank you, I would rather you didn’t pray for the rest of them.

After she was done writing down my entire clan’s personal information in her little notebook, the little old lady gave me a meaningful look, squeezed my hand, and trotted off. I got a distinct sense like maybe she also wanted to hug me, (and ask for more names), but I cut her off at the pass. It’s one thing to give a stranger all of your personal information plus your mother’s maiden name, but quite another to physically touch.

“What were you talking to that woman about?” asked the P-Dawg, who’d been sitting out of earshot.

“She prays for people on their birthdays,” I told him. “So I gave her our stats.”

A small vein in my husband’s right temple began to throb.

“Did you give her our real names?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“And our real birthdays?”

”                         ”

“What other information did you give her?” the P-Dawg sounded alarmed.

“Just our social security numbers and online banking information,” I told him (even though I had not!)

Suddenly it seemed like not such a great idea, what I had done. I mean, if this lady was really praying for people on their birthdays, why didn’t she carry a calendar and write the names in for each day instead?

“Let us pray,” said the priest, and I sent up a silent petition that the Birthday Lady wouldn’t steal my identity.

“Do you think she’s going to steal our identities?” I asked the P-Dawg.

“Probably,” he said.

I couldn’t concentrate during Mass at all because I kept scanning the pews for the Birthday Lady. But I couldn’t see her anywhere and so naturally assumed that she was already back in her lair, hacking into our bank accounts.

Thankfully my daughter, who is a spy in training, had not let her out of her sight. She was ten pews up to our right. There was still a chance to get our names out of The Book!

After Mass I asked the P-Dawg if he would mind approaching the Prayer Lady and asking her to remove our names from her list.

“What?”

“Just say we reconsidered and we don’t want anyone praying for us.”

“I have a better idea,” the P-Dawg said.

“What are you going to do, take her down in the parking lot?”

“No, I’m going to trail her and get a picture of her license plate,” he explained to me. “But first, we’re going to have to split up.”

The children and I camped out in the car awaiting our fate and my husband hovered around the Birthday Lady while she chatted with people after church.

“Where’s Daddy?” asked my son after about ten minutes.

“Oh, he probably just ran into someone he knows,” I lied, even though I was starting to fret. What was the P-Dawg doing with the Prayer Lady? Had he been successful in confiscating our page? Had she pulled a switchblade on him? Had they come to blows?”

Finally my brave husband came back.

“Well?” I prodded. “How did it go down? Did you get our names removed from The Book?”

“No,” said the P-Dawg.  “She stayed after talking to a bunch of people who seemed to know and trust her, and then she went to the hall for coffee and donuts.”

“I don’t understand. Why didn’t you ask if you could see her Prayer Book, then rip our page out?”

“Because I could get arrested for that.”

We continued to discuss the situation on the car ride home and the P-Dawg reluctantly conceded that the Prayer Lady had probably been legit. I want to believe there are still people in the world who just want to pray for me and everyone I know for the heck of it. And I think it’s a shame that my husband we automatically second guess someone who offers. In fact, I should have asked for her name and info. That way I would at least know how to look her up.

So what do you think? Is the Birthday Lady going to pray for me, or rob me blind instead?

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How to Ask Your Husband on a Date

Recently, I realized that the P-Dawg and I hadn’t been on a date in a long time. The problem was that between the two of us, I was the only one who’d realized it.

I began turning it over in my mind. Some might say, “perseverating.” I really wanted to go on a date! Sure, I could have just asked him. But that would have defeated the whole purpose, which was for my husband to naturally arrive at the realization that what he wants, more than anything in the world, is to wine and dine his smart, beautiful, and not quite thirty-nine year old wife.

Reluctantly, I activated the handy, but not always reliable first tier persuasion mechanism: mind control. Whenever the two of us were together, I would close my eyes, furrow my brow, and direct pointed thoughts about going on a date toward my husband.

“Why are you making that face?” he asked me. “Do you have to go to the bathroom?”

Next, I dropped strategic hints, such as naming some couples I knew of who had gone on a date. “I heard it can be fun,” I told him.

Finally, there was no choice but to broach the subject directly.

Husband: “What’s wrong?”

Me: “Nothing.”

Husband: “Are you sure?”

Me: “I guess.”

Husband: “What?”

Me: “Forget it.”

Husband: “No, what?”

Me: “It’s just that . . . oh, nevermind!”

Husband: “Okay.”

Me (sulking): “Okay.”

(Time passes. Husband pays some bills, organizes his fishing gear, and putzes around on computer.)

Me: “Unbelievable.”

Husband: “What?”

Me: “It’s like you forgot we were even having a conversation.”

Husband: “I thought our conversation was over.”

Me: “That just goes to show you how out of synch our energy is. I don’t even remember the last time we went out together.”

Husband: “You know, you’re right. We should go on a date! Why didn’t you mention it earlier?”

Me: “I don’t see how I could have made myself any clearer.”

Sometimes, you just have to spell it out for them.

 

(By the way, we went on a date and it was really fun, just as I heard it could be from some couples! Also, I feel I must tell you that the P-Dawg is actually a fantastic husband. In fact, I really think he got the short end of the stick when he married me. There is really nothing for me to complain about in our relationship, except the fact that after almost twelve years of marriage, he has not yet mastered the subtle art of mind reading.)

 

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Tales from the Trailer Park

One thing I learned on my recent road trip is that a person’s vacation is only as good as her ability to roll with the punches. I was presented with an opportunity to put this philosophy into practice when I first stepped foot inside our rented RV and got the distinct impression that people had lived in it before. But instead of relishing the feeling of a gritty floor beneath my feet, I railed against it.

“This RV is a piece of crap,” I announced to the P-Dawg after the rental guy had gone back inside his office. “It’s nothing like the one he showed me when I booked it!”

I had to turn away then, so the P-Dawg wouldn’t see the tears welling up in my eyes.

But my husband is a glass half full kind of guy, and whether he was truly blind to the dirty floor and the stained upholstery and the brown schmear on the wall of the kids’ sleeping loft, I will never know.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said as he re-attached a piece of wood paneling. “This is going to be awesome.”

It took us longer than expected to load the entire contents of our two-story colonial inside the thirty foot long RV, but soon enough we were bouncing along the Ohio turnpike, headed east. Once we were on the road, everyone’s spirits rose. The children for their part loved the freedom that the spacious table and couch seating afforded them, each choosing spots diametrically opposed one to the other. And the P-Dawg and I loved the fact that the motor rumbled so loudly, we couldn’t hear a thing either one of them was saying to us.

When we entered Pennsylvania, we realized it was mountainous and there were many white knuckled moments of barreling down steep, narrow inclines, which I must admit my husband navigated with the utmost finesse. As we approached the campsite where we were to spend our first night, the road continued to narrow until it was nothing more than primitive sort of towpath with a shoulder-less river embankment on one side (mine) and a cement wall on the other.

It was like trying to thread a motor home through the eye of a needle and we got through it by the skin of our teeth, thanks to the P-Dawg’s nerves of steel and my back seat driving credentials, which enabled me to hang my head out the side window like a golden retriever and periodically yell, “Oh, my God! You are WAY TOO CLOSE!!!”

But no sooner did we breathe a sigh of relief, than we were presented with our next recreational challenge: to back the ten foot wide camper into an eleven foot wide spot between two trees at dusk. I got out of the vehicle, and employing an elaborate system of made up hand gestures, guided the P-Dawg deftly into the spot. There was one touch and go moment when I disappeared momentarily from his view and he almost ran me over, but it’s the sort of thing you learn to expect after almost eleven years of marriage.

After we (and when I say “we,” I of course mean, “the P-Dawg”) hooked up all the various attachments which would provide us with basic necessities like water, electricity, and air conditioning for the night, I took the children on a walk around the campgrounds and my husband went down to the river behind our scenic camping spot to gather kindling. When the kids and I returned, he had a nice fire going and was making steaks on the charcoal grill. We ate our steaks at ten o’ clock in the evening with some baked beans and garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, and I daresay it was one of the best meals I ever had.

After that, it was time to settle in for our first night under the stars. So we went inside the camper and brushed our teeth with running water from the tap, watched an episode of the Wiggles on DVD, and crawled into our simple pallets made up with down comforters and Egyptian cotton sheets.

As I dozed off reading my Kindle and sipping on some chamomile tea I’d nuked in the microwave, I knew exactly how Lewis and Clark must have felt.

Pioneers

 

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