It’s Valentine’s Day, and people all over are at their romantic best, scrambling for flowers, chocolate, and dinner reservations. I’ve always been a bit too sardonic to pull off a decent Valentine’s Day spirit, and Alex and I kind of lack in the romance department.
We have this amazing, sometimes fun, and always committed partnership, and to me, simply showing up and doing the work of loving someone is so much more rewarding than a heart-shaped box of chocolates. We just aren’t that romantic. In love, yes. Romantic, no.
This is totally my fault; I’m pretty sure. In college on our first Valentine’s Day together, he made me a mix tape, decorated it with orange marker, our favorite color, and presented it to me. I received it graciously, saying, “What?!?! We’re supposed to do gifts?!? We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day?!??!” I think I concluded with that noise you make in the back of your throat that sounds like a human hairball.
I love my Alex. And thankfully, he loves me back, despite my total lack in the romance department. The deeper we got into the relationship, the more it became clear what he was getting into.
If I look at the overarching themes of our life together, I’d say Jesus, family, service, creativity, and poo. It’s always been poo.
Meet the Parents
The first time Alex came home with me on a college break, he clogged our toilet. He desperately tried to get it unplugged, and finally resorted to searching underneath the sink for a solution. He found some disposable gloves, remedied the problem, and trod sheepishly downstairs to the kitchen table.
He told my mother, “Hey, you were probably wondering what was going on up there. I, er, clogged the toilet, but I fixed it.” Without missing a beat, Mom said, “Did you use the gloves under the sink?” He looked surprised and answered, “Why yes, yes I did.” Mom reassured him, saying, “That’s what they’re there for. Melanie does that all the time.”
And we were off. Super.
How He Proposed
We should probably talk proposal stories. If you’re married or were married, do you have a good one? Rose petals, down on one knee, something involving a gazebo and a dove? I love hearing proposal stories, because mine is poo.
In the fall of 1998, I decided to run my first and last half marathon. I ended up in the hospital later that night with an impacted colon, missed a week of college, and was introduced to my little friend, Mr. Enema. Really more of an enemy.
Running is bad, people. Let this be a lesson.
Lying in the hospital with my mom at my side, I groaned in the middle of the night, “All this would be okay if Alex would come here and propose.” Even in the deep agony of intestinal drama, I had one thing on the brain, and it was a ring.
Later that week, back at school, he did just that. I was already ready for bed with my multicolored retainer suctioned into my mouth, glasses on, and jammied up. He was letting himself out to go sleep at a friend’s house, and I climbed into my incredibly high loft, when all of a sudden I panicked that I’d left all my anti-constipation meds back home. I started jabbering about bran flakes and Metamucil and the drugs I was supposed to be taking and how I just couldn’t go back to the geriatric ward at the hospital with the nurse with the scary butt instruments of torture.
He calmly offered to go check my car and came back a few minutes later with a large sack full of poo softening helpers. I flopped back on my bed, relieved and still a little sore, determined to probably never run a race again and thankful for my boyfriend, even though he was never, ever gonna propose.
Just then, his head popped up above my loft and I realized that he was standing on my desk. He said, “Close your eyes.” I did, and when I opened them, there was a sparkly diamond ring glittering in my face. I had to squint, because I’d taken off my glasses, but it was there in front of me. “Will you marry me?”
Apparently, my complete hotness in that moment of retainer and glasses, and his sprint to get all my fibrous remedies, had caused him to become so overwhelmed with ardor that he could wait no longer. He had to make this raging poop monster his forever.
I climbed down the loft ladder and pulled out my retainer, gooey with saliva, setting it on my desk. And thus began our poopy life together. He presented me with a picnic basket filled with little gifts, including a present from his mother with a note inviting me to join the family at the lake that summer.
First Vacation Together
When the summer arrived, I packed for two weeks in New England, a week with my family in Maine and a week with his in New Hampshire. My family rented a little house on a tiny island with one little general store. I found myself so stressed out at the thought of meeting Alex’s entire family, including cousins that he himself couldn’t name, that I ended up in a similar predicament to the week before the proposal.
My father returned to that one general store again and again, buying them out of their entire supply of enemas. “Hi. I’m back. I need another one.” He wanted to say, “They’re not mine! They’re not all for me! It’s my wound-too-tight daughter who needs to learn to eat a vegetable!”
By the end of that vacation, I’d used them all but one, and that one became a running joke between my brother and I, as we hid it in each other’s houses every time we visited. Really, what family doesn’t have a good “find the enema” joke?
I should’ve named my firstborn “Fleet.”
Most brides seem to have a proposal story involving a beautiful meadow or waterfall or fancy dinner. Some guys hide the ring somewhere special. Often there’s champagne. Something romantic. Back in the nineties when we got engaged, it seems like all the good Christian couples were washing each others’ feet. Very symbolic.
But we have poo. We’ll always have poo. That’s our story. Forever.
It’s okay. Our marriage has never been much about romance, but has always had a healthy dose of laughter. Our poopy beginning has prepared us for all kinds of things, from colonoscopies to potty training. There isn’t anything fecal-related that we can’t handle together. It’s always been poo.
So, what’s your story? If you’re married, how did he propose? Does anyone on Earth have one as unromantic as mine?
image from PickMeCups at etsy.com