The other day, while our family was playing Mad Libs, that timeless word game where you fill in the template with specified nouns, verbs, adjectives, places, body parts and other grammatical phrases in order to create a comically absurd story, I realized that Jim and I were engaging in the most effective communication we’ve had in years.
It’s funny how a word game made me think back to the early years of our marriage. As a newlywed I used to write cute little erotic notes and stick them between the bread in Jim’s sandwich. I knew if I put the note into the lunch bag he’d never see it so I stuck it between the bread and cold cuts. I’ll tell you, the notes became an instant hit with the boys in the construction yard. They loved to see him pull the chewed paper remnants from his mouth and try to piece together words that he hadn’t swallowed in an absurd game of Porno Jumble. But then came kids, and no privacy, and the notes began to change; at least the messages did. “Guess what I’m going to do to you tonight!!!!” turned into “Guess what I’m going to do to you tonight if you don’t get that goddamn (fill in the blank) out of my dining room, now!!!!” Yes, the passion of the papyrus fell by the wayside as so much often does when we get distracted. Anyway, if I stuck a note between his sandwich at this point in our marriage, the only thing I’d arouse is his indigestion.
I joked with Jim that maybe Mad Libs was the perfect communication tool for us—we can leave templates around the house and fill them in quickly to spark the spontaneous flames of passion (and humor) that playing the role of responsible adults and parents has dulled.
So here’s my Mad-Love to Jim. As of printing, he’s still working on his to me.
Because we have so little money to spend together, I thought I'd pour my bladder out to you since after all these years my body still breaks down every time you come near me. Still, what we lack in the bank we make up for in unpaid bills. Remember when we first met and you couldn’t keep your seatbelt buckled? And here we are 20 years later and your seatbelt is still unbuckled every time I slink into the driver’s seat. Since we’ve had children our relationship has only been tested in ways I never thought imaginable. Parenting children together has brought out the gray hairs, bald spots, and frown lines in us. I couldn’t parent without lots and lots of wine and drugs. Nor would I want to.
Every time I look at you all I see is your father staring back at me. It makes me want to wrap my head in a noose and give you a big box of Grecian Formula 44. If I knew 20 years ago that in 20 years I would be married to my father-in-law’s twin I would have still kept in touch with that 20 year old indie drummer from the East Village. And let me not forget to add that opportunity I passed up with the lesbian lawyer with a summer home on Fire Island. Sometimes I have to kick myself to make sure this is really our life.
Though children have stripped us of any and all carnal desire and made us into the cranky sexless people we swore we’d never become we must pray to God everyday that their real parents will come and get them soon.
Remember when we were dating and we’d sit in the back row of the movie theater where I would gently nibble on your popcorn with extra butter and you would unzip my wallet? Now when we escape to a movie alone you still can’t help but fall asleep and snore and I can’t refrain from sticking my elbow into your rib cage to wake you up every five minutes.
Your talent for not hearing a single word I say continues to amaze me. Remember all those cheap motels with hourly rates we used to go to for fun when it was just the two of us? I never thought then that those would be our vacation destinations and the only places we’d be able to afford 20 years later. But, if I had to do it all over again I would still be connected to that East Village indie drummer because after all these years real estate in the East Village is worth a mint. After all, if I never met you I would be absolutely and completely drinking margaritas at happy hour on South Beach with my gay hairdresser and his buff bff’s without you.