When you first get married it’s all, “I love you!”, “You are my angel!”, “I want to get intimate with you!”, and “Can I rub your feet?” It’s called the “Honeymoon period”, and it’s the amount of time between the wedding day (AKA, “The best day of your life”) and the time when you’re able to judge your partner objectively, and see him (or her) for what he (or she) really is. Some people say this period of blissful harmony lasts about a year, give or take a month, or 11.
My husband and I were married on August 3, 2006. Our period of blissful harmony lasted for 43 days.
The day started out like each of the first 42: We cuddled for at least fifteen minutes, we shared our deepest feelings, we showered, we dressed, we drank organic fair-trade coffee out of ironic mugs, my husband ripped a page off the page-a-day New Yorker calendar and we laughed together, educatedly at the cartoon.
I looked at our Cats Playing Musical Instruments calendar to see what was on the agenda that day. It said: “Car Insurance Expired”.
“We need to renew the insurance today”, I said to my husband, and he listened (because it was day 43)!
So we walked, hand-in-hand, to the insurance agency just two blocks away. We renewed, we signed papers, we snuck in at least nine kisses during the 12-minute appointment (the agent caught us seven of those times!), we got a copy of our insurance documents and a little yellow, date sticker to attach to our license plate.
We walked home, hand-in-hand. We stopped to smell a rose bush and have a “real kiss” (a French one).
My husband was going to drive the car to work that day. I was going to stay home to wash floors, bake bread, fluff pillows, and shave my legs. As my husband drove off, I felt like a piece of my heart was also driving away in that Honda Civic. I felt bad for the British-American rock-group Foreigner, because I knew what love was.
I counted the hours until my husband would arrive home. I paced, I did some light stretching, I dusted the ceiling fans, I rearranged the living room furniture. At 6:03pm he walked in the door. I ran into his arms, we embraced, we kissed (open-mouth, of course), and we messed up the bed real good.
Hours later, we felt hungry for some dinner. We decided to go out to our favourite restaurant in the trendiest, yuppiest part of town. As I drove the four kilometers to the restaurant, I felt distracted. I wanted to be staring at my husband’s beautiful face, not the boring road.
Then I heard sirens.
I thought the sirens couldn’t be for me. Yes, I was driving 47 in a 45 zone, but cops don’t pull you over for that nonsense, do they? Yes, I turned left when it said no left turns, but cops don’t pull you over for those kinds of little blunders, do they? Yes, I failed to signal, because it was at the last minute. But cops don’t pull you over for a silly little thing like signalling, do they? They should be worrying about burglars and killers.
The police car came along beside me and the sturdy-looking cop gestured for me to pull over. I pulled over, cursing silently under my breath
The cop strode up to the driver’s side of the car. I rolled down my window and smiled as I said, “Hello there”, like it was nothing.
“License and registration,” he said, all casually, like it was nothing.
My husband opened the glove compartment and passed me the documents. (I caught a glance of my husband’s beautiful blue eyes, and I became convinced that there was good in the world.)
The cop coughed to get my attention. I passed him the documents, smiling widely, like it was nothing. He looked them over, and then took a little stroll around the vehicle.
I was starting to think it might be something.
The cop came back around to the driver’s side, leaned down, pushed his polarized Aviator sunglasses up onto his head and got real close. So close I could smell his chewing gum flavor: wintergreen. The cop passed me the insurance documents, and I passed them my husband (careful to avoid looking directly at him, and becoming distracted by his handsomeness).
“Your insurance is expired,” The cop said, but obviously it wasn’t, because my husband and I had renewed our insurance that very morning. Before I could tell him that, he continued: “The sticker on your plates expired yesterday”, he said, but obviously it wasn’t, because they gave us a new sticker. Before I could tell him that, he continued: “The fine for driving around with an expired sticker is $500.” The cop took out his little pad and started writing.
“We renewed our insurance this morning,” I said, turning to my rugged and manly husband. “You put the sticker on, right?” In my husband’s strong and capable hands, were the insurance documents, with a little yellow, date sticker paper clipped to the right-hand corner.
I turned to my husband, then back to the cop, then back to my husband. I felt my face flush red, I felt my pulse start to race. My mouth felt parched (but that could have been from all the kissing).
The cop continued to write the ticket.
“You forgot to put the sticker on.” I said it quietly, at first. The second, and then the third time… I got a little louder. The fourth time I screeched in his ear. The fifth time was only heard by dogs.
The cop tore the ticket off his pad. I put out my hand to collect it, but he ripped it up. He looked into the car, past me, to my husband, and said: “I have a feeling that whatever punishment she’s going to give you is worse than this ticket.”
The cop strode back to his car and then drove away.
I said it for a sixth time, with feeling: “You forgot to put the sticker on.” While saying it, I realized a few things. It wasn’t about the sticker, strangely. It was the first indication that my husband would: a) forget to do things; b) not do the things he said he was going to do; c) cost me money.
It was a wake-up call. Reality had gonged its gong.
On Day 44 there was only 5 minutes of cuddling. There was very little sharing of our deepest feelings. We did shower, and we did dress. We did drink organic fair-trade coffee out of ironic mugs, and my husband did rip a page off the page-a-day New Yorker calendar. But I hardly laughed at the cartoon, and it wasn’t because it wasn’t funny.
It was because: the honeymoon was over.