Guns, Germs and Hypochondriacs

Opposites attract.

Staff Sergeant Kevin L. Zetina, Platoon 2085's...
Staff Sergeant Kevin L. Zetina, Platoon 2085's senior drill instructor, bellows cadence while practicing for Company G's final drill competition. Deutsch: Ausbilder (Drill Instructor) beim United States Marine Corps. Español: Un instructor abordando a los marines estadounidenses. A drill instructor addressing United States Marines / Not Drill Sergeant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They also  marry and discover along the primrose path of marital bliss what the French call, “le difference”.  Love is indeed blind and when a couple is first intoxicated by mutual attraction,  a thick cataract forms over their eyes  – precluding any ability to see things for what they are.  Eventually the X and Y chromosomes recover from their initial pheromone-fueled joy rides and discover the differences in how they approach life.  

Men are loud, visceral creatures who aggressively seek to conquer and accumulate.  Secretly, they are neonates seeking to return to the womb.  Women are more subtle and versatile forms of fauna using their twin skills of nature and nurture to navigate a thankless peanut gallery of expectations. Privately, they just want to be in charge of an all-Italian male model pool cleaning service.

Men are a mass of contradictions. After years of being indulged by their mothers, watching sitcom matriarchs and digesting blatant misinformation from other men, they enter marriages and relationships with a distorted expectation of what their partner must bring to the party.  Apparently, a nice cheese dip is not enough. Men also want their mommy.

Women fall in love with the notion of being in love.  Men appear to them like puppies – cute, friendly and somewhat fragrant.  By the time, they have been taken home, it is too late to give them back and your house smells.    When a woman realizes that her knight in shining armor is really sporting tin foil, wearing dirty underwear and perpetually prone to watch re-runs of the Godfather, a woman can become disillusioned.  This is why you often see mothers and daughters crying at a wedding.  They are not overcome with emotion.  The mother, having drank too much champagne, has just taken their daughter aside and shared with her what life might be like after the honeymoon.  Men misinterpret this matromonial female cry-a-thon as a byproduct of nostalgia when in fact, it is Mom breaking to daughter the news that behind the hunter-gatherer lurks a child who just wants to stay home from work and play with his plastic soldiers.

When it comes to the cold and flu season, roles change with women often morphing into the “drill sergeant “ and men into the “baby”.  A drill sergeant views illness as a temporary setback that must be denied at all costs.  Sickness is a self-fulfilling prophesy and the drill sergeant refuses to acknowlege anything less than blood from three orifices.  Drill sergeants hail from large families and the “suck it up“ school of parenting.  They believe in mud poultices and Mary Baker Eddy.  Babies, however,  are still nostalgic for small country inns, soft blankets and the pulsing heart beat that comes at the beginning of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” — anything that reminds them of the nine months inside Mom’s pouch. 

Men become huge infants when they are ill.   The slightest cold or fever is usually the beginning of a pandemic. Women are taught to endure.  This plays itself out each season as men complain to other men that their wives show them little sympathy when they are ill.  Wives must keep the house going even when they are sick and as a result, have contempt for “babies” who cannot get up to get a cup of water, let alone, help with the kids.

Men never really notice when their wives are ill.  “My wife never gets sick” a friend shared with me as his wife was coughing up a lung while we were out to dinner.  Yet, when a man is sick, he reverts to fetal rocking, moaning and deep adolescent dependence.  To a drill sergeant, this contemptible behavior is worthy of court-marshal.

I should have registered the subtle harbingers of  intolerance when my wife and I were dating.  I knew she was a first generation Brit.  However, I assumed the “stiff upper lip” and “it’s just a flesh wound” thing was Monty Python hyperbole.  I assumed when the chips were down or coming up, she would transform into a Florence Nightingale that would nurture me by candle light – holding a vigil by my side of the bed until I was well.

 I had grown up in a household where sickness afforded you a temporary celebrity status. In the home of my mother, there was an unwritten  rule that if you were even thinking of getting ill, you went right to bed, eschewed all social obligations and incubated until the illness either hatched or the false alarm had passed.  My mother would organize around the illness.  She would sit like Mother Teresa, a kind silhouette in the flickering shadows of a night-light – cooling our feverish heads, rubbing our backs and humming soft songs.  In a four-boy family where you had to compete for everything – – food, air, space and attention, illness gave you temporary immunity from obscurity.  I often found myself envying my brothers when they became sick.  The mother shepherd focused exclusively on her one wounded lamb, assigning us to our father who resented the fact that he had to talke care of us. It was clearly better to be sick than under the care of a man who still insisted that the Germans had been invited into Poland in 1939.

The arrival of a major epidemic like chicken pox or measles was greeted with 19th century pragmatism – – the infected child and his brothers were quarantined together in a room until everyone came down with the illness.  “Best to get it all over at once “, She would shrug.  In later years, we would feign illness by placing the thermometer on a hot lamp or enduring scalding hot showers to raise our body temperatures.  We would then moan like ghosts wandering into her room to complain of a headache.

When I became a parent, I would disintegrate into worry when my first child became sick.  Yet, I had been trained by the best in triage and bedside manner.  In a strange way, their maladies made me feel more relevant.  Enter the British wife.  To the British female, illnesses are like road works, a temporary impediment that must be driven around.    Years later, as we brought children into the world, the “Stiff Upper Lip“ school and the “It Could Be Plague“ schools would routinely clash over diagnoses and prognoses.

At the first sneeze, she would say, “it’s just a cold.” I would be certain it was Ebola.  At the sound of a muffled midnight cough or sniffles, I was on the phone demanding access to a pediatrician.  A headache ? Meningitis.  That sore throat could be bird flu.  “The last I checked none of us have been to China” my spouse would respond.  ” We ate Chinese food the other night. Those dumplings could have been cooked by a carrier. “

As more children were born, I mellowed, graduating from burning the pacifier when it fell from their mouths, to wiping it on my pants to just popping it back in their mouths. My spouse, born to a midwife in a small English village, seemed pleased with my progress.  We made quantum leaps such as actually agreeing to carry on with a vacation if one of the children came down with the sniffles or developed a cough.  We braved a dinner party if I felt a little under the weather.  And yes, we did send a child to school before they had been symptom free for 48 hours (that one had me sweating)

I suppose this pragmatic return to 19th century medicine is healthy. But, there are times when my entire family is fighting illness — coughing and sneezing, spreading their germs throughout the house – that I hide, paranoid and alone in my den.  I sit wide-eyed reading – a modern day Howard Hughes devouring a book like, Guns, Germs and Steel.  I may have lost the germ wars at home, but I am staying informed on epidemics and holding out for the day when they reconsider my years of hypochondriacal behavior and shake their heads saying, “My God, he was right“.

That’s usually about the only time my wife declares she needs an aspirin.

Once Upon A Redecoration

Phyllis Diller portrait
Image via Wikipedia

“Beige is atmosphere. It’s bisque, it’s ivory, it’s cream, it’s stone, it’s toast, it’s cappuccino. It’s, well, it’s magic.” Albert Hadley, The Story of America’s Preeminent Interior Designer

Spring is here – or at least it has been rumored to be skirting the tri-state area.  There is stirring and restless, frenetic activity in the woods as another generation of flora and fauna stretch into the longer days of April.  There is resurrection in the air and repair everywhere – stonewalls, gutters, and roofs damaged by a bloated winter whose derriere squatted longer and harder on the Northeast than in years past.

A charm of finches flit across my garden frantically engrossed in gathering twigs to build nests while plump, red breasted robin’s patrol my lawn helping themselves to worms and unseen insects.  It seems every living thing is rousing out of the stupor of an endless night of winter days.  It is a happy serotonin fueled time for new resolutions and projects.  Change is in the air.

It is also at this time of year that other nest builders begin to itch for change. The warning signs are subtle and hard to discern from the normal cadence of spring cleaning.   Only the trained eye of a veteran husband can detect the overactive imaginations, the incessant daydreaming and endlessly indefatigable minds of women as the lighter days inspire them to reconsider the interior designs of their home.

It begins with an almost undetectable earmarked page in House Beautiful and quickly escalates to your discovery of Connecticut Homes stuffed between the mattresses like a forbidden girlie magazine.  These periodicals are mere gateway drugs to an eventual preoccupation with Home Improvement television shows followed by long “shopping” trips where your partner seemingly returns home with no purchased item other than some benign pieces of fabric and a few innocent looking business card colored placards similar to playing cards in Candyland.  The next thing you know, some NYC metro sexual named RicKi (yes, a capital K) is inside your living room declaring you a candidate for FEMA fashion relief.

I can recall watching my mother gush with what appeared to be disingenuous praise every time she would visit the homes of friends and neighbors with older children. She would often stare at my father as she flattered our hosts on their choice of fabrics and décor.  Years later, I realized her praise was laced with anger and envy.  Raising destructive boys and a dog that preferred to urinate on the corner of her living room sofa had left her paralyzed from attempting a home makeover.

My freshman year of college, a woman that could be best described as the unholy offspring of Rodney Dangerfield and Phyllis Diller arrived at our front door.  She was a “prominent” Beverly Hills interior designer who was doing a friend a favor by agreeing to meet with my mother aka “that poor woman with the four boys”.

“ My gaaaawd! Honey, I don’t know how you have survived so long living in GI Joe’s footlocker.  I mean, it looks like Burt Reynolds threw up all over your house!” Her hysterical laugh quickly yielded to a smoker’s cough that sounded like she was going to hack up a fur ball. My mother could only respond with a nervous, embarrassed chuckle.  She quickly shot my father the “lizard look” – a squinting leer of distain that silently conveyed more contempt than any combination of words in the Merriam Webster dictionary.

The auburn bombshell proceeded into our living room surveying its sculpted olive green shag carpet, overstuffed urine stained twin floral sofas and a bamboo wall-to-wall stereo cabinet that seemed better suited to a potting shed.  My dad was not sure whether this woman was a homemaker or a home wrecker as it was clear that he was about to take the rap from my mom for her sudden epiphany that she had been living a life of squalor.

Overnight, our comfortable Father Knows Best living room transformed into a sterile showcase home only fit for women, demure young girls and clients.  An entire living space in our home became “off limits” and remained unoccupied for weeks on end.  Any living thing with hair under its arms was relegated to a postage stamp sized den.  To add insult to injury, my father was required to compensate this domestic fashionista.  He eventually came to refer to her simply as “the parasite”.

It is present day and a strange woman keeps leaving messages on our machine for my wife.  She talks rapidly and always in code. “Hi, Caroline.  I’ve got those swatches you were asking about and will leave them in the store for you.”  Swatches? I am suddenly aware of little pieces of laminated colored paper taped to the living room wall.

The beige and powder blue squares have names like “healing aloe” and “ soft fern”.  The “soft fern” color is actually light gray.   It looks more like “dead fern” to me.  There are other squares of Sherwin Williams paint that are perfumed and lip-sticked with names like “deer path“ and “baby’s breath.” Personally, all I think of when I see them is round pebbles of scat and curdled milk.

I actually have not met the happy interior design lady. I can visualize her as she parades across my perfectly acceptable living and family rooms with that puzzled, sympathetic look of a cosmetic surgeon.  “Has it always looked this way?” “Personally, I can see why you don’t want a ‘cluttered’ feel to the room.” “Cluttered” is female speak for “everything your husband finds comfortable is about to be banished to the basement.

As the home makeover escalates, it becomes physically inconvenient.  It requires me to move stuff. I hate moving things. A call from another room is like fingernails on a chalkboard.  “Hon’, I need to hold this mirror up for me.“ or  “Can you move that 500lb urn over to that corner? I just want to see how it looks.” I become a thankless Druid rebuilding Stonehenge each night at the whim of my spouse and the invisible furniture muse.  One particularly irksome request has me moving everything on the right side of the room to the left side and vice versa.  Other than potentially accommodating some ancient principle of feng shui, I can see no purpose to this exercise other than turning my L1 through L5 vertebrae into a ruptured, gelatinous kebob.

My nightly plyometrics continue unabated.  “A little higher. No higher, No lower. Just two inches to the right.” The 200lb mirror is about to smash to the ground as I near total muscle failure.  She hesitates.  I crane my neck and encourage this new location.  Actually, at this point, I would endorse its’ relocation anywhere. “Nope” she says shaking her head.  “It’s not quite right.” The mirror plunges and I stick out my shoe to protect it from hitting the floor.  It crushes my toe.  I swear and hop on one leg.  Her backed is turned.” Let’s try it over here.”

As I limp to bed that night, I have vivid nightmares of my house being overrun with green alpaca fiber bunny rabbit themed throw blankets and emerald enameled Faberge eggs.  An orange man with a feathered boa keeps trying to convince me that the latest design style is to have an empty room where everyone just stands. My flat screen TV is now the size of a postage stamp. He is chasing after me.  “Come look at what I have done to your den, it’s called, ‘Greco-Roman Wolf’.  There are animal fur throw rugs, a marble desk and I have replaced your toilet with a grotto urinal so you can pee while standing up.”

I wake up in a cold sweat and stumble into the kitchen. As I pass through the darkened living room, I can see swatches of fabric draped over the arms of chairs and sofas.  The décor demon has passed this way again. When will this end?  It starts innocently with a new chair and concludes with my wife telling me she needs a divorce because my eyes don’t match the new living room carpet? I turn on a light and mindlessly open one of a thousand décor magazines littering the coffee table — an issue of Dwell magazine.

I can’t help feeling cynical.  I mean who the hell buys Dwell magazine anyway? Who writes for Dwell – interior design people who can’t make up their minds? I open the smartly illustrated cover and an article catches my eye – simply called “ Man Caves”.  The “Hunting Lodge” theme encourages dark wood accents, such as bookshelves, and rich mahogany furniture.  The article patronizingly concludes with “don’t forget, men need simplicity, so avoid clutter. (there’s that code word again).” I surveyed the chocolate brown leather chairs, the floor to ceiling bookcase, the crown molding and midnight slate fireplace.  This would make a good man cave.

In a moment of midnight clarity, I realize I must actively participate in this remodel ‘lest I awaken one day to a family room transformed into a day spa with the stereo piping out new age, Peruvian pan-flute music. I fold the page marking the article on “Hunting Lodge Man Caves” and slip the magazine underneath her pillow.

Yep, two can play this game.

A Little Romance

Courting-Couple-at-Midnight--Post-cover--1919-...
Image by x-ray delta one via Flickr

 

A Little Romance

 

Men are like a fine wine. They all start out like grapes, and it’s our job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something you’d like to have at dinner” Kathleen Mifsud

Men and woman have a different definition of what “romantic” means.  To psychologists, a romantic state is an endorphin and dopamine fueled experience – – a neurochemical “matrix” that allows us to see things as we want them as opposed to the way that they really are.  Romance’s accessories are lighting, old movies, alcohol, nostalgia and anywhere in Europe.  Men, generally do not get high marks for being romantic.  They are “explicit “creatures, and much further down the emotional evolutionary chain.  Men, like Pokemon, evolve in stages.  Most start in the “Pig “stage, a sort of larval state where everything is about them.  They eat, sleep, make noises, don’t call back and tell their friends everything that happened on your date. In time, life punishes this behavior and men move to the “Clueless“ stage.  Cluelessness is most commonly characterized by the statement, “what did I do? “ Clueless men take a three day trip with their college buddies every year and always come home too tired to take out the trash. Finally, after dedicated coaching and nights on the couch, men begin to walk erect and enter the “Considerate” stage.  This final stage is fragile and highly vulnerable to regression back to Clueless or even Pig phases.  Maintaining the Considerate stage requires years of marriage, therapy or the ability to admit to at least three Pigs that you cried during the movie “Brokeback Mountain”. Pigs can sometimes pose as Considerates.  However, they inevitably get caught.

There are documented records of an even higher stage called “Romantic” but it seems no male has ever been able to truly stay in this position.  It is a bit like climbing Mt Everest and being over 22,000 feet.  It is a death zone where no one can survive. Remaining in this zone too long begins to psychologically damage a male.  Binary brains cannot function with open ended questions such as “what are you thinking “and “who would you have married if you did not marry me?” Romance by its sheer nature is built on the seemingly conflicting virtues of spontaneity and meticulous preparation.  Therapists refer to it in metaphoric terms such as “setting the table” or “playing the mood music”. Men generally fail to understand the concept of playing mood music.  Men are rap musicians and clanging gongs.  They are overt, direct and venal.  Men march out to the windy plain and fight the enemy until the death.  Women, on the other hand, are folk musicians and piccolos.  They prefer to move stealthily, never engaging in direct confrontation, slowly winning a war of attrition through relentless passive aggressive behavior.

“Men always want to be a woman’s first love – women like to be a man’s last romance.”   – Oscar Wilde

The fact is if romance was a shirt, men would buy ten of them and be out of the store in five minutes.  Men don’t generally like ballads or love songs by Cole Porter.  They hate poetry. Walt Whitman?  Uh….wasn’t he…? ……Not that there is anything wrong with

that.! Shelley, Keats and Yeats? Weren’t those the names of the girls on Charlie’s Angels? Guys don’t want a soul mate, they want a cell mate. Guys want to be John Belushi in Animal House smashing the guitar of the guy with the goatee reading poetry and singing ballads on the stairs.  For some men, romance is as simple as having the lights out while watching Charles Bronson in “Death Wish”.  They can’t understand the difference between The Newark Marriott and Auberge d’Soliel in Napa Valley, except that one is a lot more expensive and has a smaller pool.  These men are the target demographic of the floral, greeting card and confection industries on Valentine’s Day.  Red roses, a Whitman Sampler and a beautiful card and you will be Charles Boyer.  Wait, wasn’t he a third baseman for the Milwaukee Braves?  

Marriage is the process of finding out what kind of person your spouse would have really preferred – Anonymous

 

Lack of romantic IQ is an age old liability.  The Greeks had myriad words to describe the many facets of love – – Eros was perhaps the most applicable word for romance and passionate love. In Southern Europe, many men are born “Considerate” and sometimes attain the highest evolutionary form of “Romantic”.  However, this only applies when they are courting a mistress or college student backpacking for the summer.  Across the Southern Mediterranean, men have a reputation for being hopeless Romantics but regression is always around the corner.  It is quite a different story in Northern Europe where being romantic is still synonymous with wearing a clean pair of underwear.  

 

The great question… which I have not been able to answer is, “What does a woman want?” — Freud

 

In the 19th century, there was a brief surge of estrogen in the cosmos in the form of the Romantic movement which encouraged impulse and intuition over repetition and reason.  Men liked the part of romanticism that encouraged them to be reckless and unaccountable. Men felt more free to read poetry, enjoy art, and pick petals off daisies while on a picnic in the country.  However, the Pigs began to worry that they were being overrun by the Clueless and the Considerate.  No one was showing up for hangings, bare knuckle fist fights or helping to break up local picket lines during labor strikes.  The bars were empty in the middle of the week. The Pigs started a rumor that anyone who read poetry was indeed a Communist.  This quickly led to a massive peer pressure regression known to many historians as “The Great Backslide of 1898”.  With Romanticism dying, the bell curve of behavior was more balanced, The Pigs breathed a sigh of relief.

 

However, society has continued to evolve.  Pigs are increasingly chastised for their misogynist views.  The Clueless attend classes with their partners and use “I“ phrases for sharing how they are feeling.  Considerates understand that relationships are a zero sum game and one is always in danger of being in a deficit position.  These men are beginning to realize that a little romance is not life threatening.  It may require watching a movie about far away places or star crossed lovers caught up in epic conflicts that conspire to keep them apart.  It may mean sitting outside listening to John Mayer music float gently on a warm summer night.  Romance means appreciating intrinsic beauty whether it is found in a lingering glance or a spontaneous kiss.  Considerates are finally grasping what Gable and Lombard had going.  They appreciate sunrises and sunsets.  They understand even the most ancient ember can be rekindled and that romance is its oxygen. They see integrity in monogamy.  Some even recognize when another man is a Pig, although this is a very advanced state of Considerate.

 

Valentine’s Day is framed with sepia sentiment, devoted nostalgia and stories of lovers whose words, music, and deeds transcend time. It targets the Clueless, occasionally snags a few Pigs and is supported by legions of Considerates.  Valentine’s Day for most men is a compulsory 24 hour chick flick.  For women, it is another chance for their partner to show a modicum of romantic intelligence and perhaps evolve.

We’re Still Together

We’re Still Together

 There’s a tree out in the backyard

That never has been broken by the wind

And the reason its still standing

It was strong enough to bend

 

When you say something that you can’t take back

Big wind blows and you hear a little crack

When you say “Hey well I might be wrong”

You can sway with the wind till the storm is gone

Sway with the wind till the storm is gone

 

Like a tree out in the backyard

That never has been broken by the wind

Our love will last forever

If we’re strong enough to bend 

 

Strong Enough To Bend, Tanya Tucker

 In a career that may never be equaled as a basketball coach, John Wooden won a remarkable 664 games and lost a mere 162.  His UCLA teams won 10 national championships in 12 years including seven in a row from 1966-1973.  During this period his teams won 88 straight games.  In his career, he led four different teams to perfect 30-0 seasons.

 If you were to ask John Wooden about his greatest decision in his remarkable career, he would unquestionably point to his decision to marry Nellie Riley, his high school sweetheart in 1932.  Nellie was the center of John’s universe and the person he claimed knew him better than he knew himself.   He once remarked that marriage like sports did not build character but revealed it.  

 Nellie and John were married for 53 years before she died of cancer in 1985.  For the last 24 years since her passing, John Wooden sits down on the 21st of each month and pens a love letter to Nell, his best friend.  According to sports journalist Rick Reilly, there are over 260 letters stacked neatly on her pillow, tied with a yellow ribbon.  Her side of the bed they shared remains undisturbed. When asked by Reilly if he was afraid to die, a then 90 year-old Wooden remarked, “ of course not, Death is my only chance to be with her again.”

 With over a 50% divorce rate in America, it’s even odds at best for couples to make it to the mountaintop together.  The cynics delight in reminding us of just how perilous the path is to the peak of life partnership.  British author Len Deighton once wrote, “the tragedy of marriage is that while all women marry thinking that their man will change, all men marry believing their wife will never change.”

 In any relationship and in life, you are really three people – the person you project to the world, the person you secretly see yourself to be, and the person your partner knows. It’s that last person who is probably the most accurate version of who you really are.  Most relationships get into trouble when the chasm between our face to the world and the person our partner knows becomes too great.  It seems the more we seek to be the same person all the time, the more capacity we have to focus on others which is the essential ingredient to love and the antithesis of self worship.

 It is a paradox of the human condition that we seem to gravitate toward our opposites.  I have a theory that in every relationship, there is an agitator and a fixer. The agitator is an expressive, aggressive and more mercurial partner while the fixer is the moderating influence, the rock, and a steady hand. When two agitators marry, it can be a combustible combination.  When two fixers exchange vows, the relationship may seem the equivalent to watching a test pattern at three am. And, yet while our personal preferences and aggressive or moderate styles bring a rich trousseau to our relationships, the foundations that remain the strongest are built on shared values.  When we see one another for who we are and who we are not – forgiving our limitations and reveling in our possibilities, a relationship breaks out of its chrysalis and takes wing.

 In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king and in love the ability to reflect even momentarily, sometimes prevents us from falling prey to the false positives -the cotton candy rush of self-esteem borne out of immediate physical attraction.  We all learn the hard way that the currents of a relationship change with the trade winds of time – the arrival of children, life events that challenge our faith in one another, illness, success, disappointment and death.  Woody Allen, mused that a relationship “ is like a shark, it has to keep moving forward or it dies.”

 Those who have been married for decades do not gild the lily of love.  They talk of constant compromise, trying to avoid taking one another for granted, expressing appreciation, forgiveness, making time, playing the mood music, seeking to understand before seeking to be understood, recognizing perfect moments, never forgetting that anything you put ahead of each other eventually comes between you, you and remembering that resentment is liking drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.  As these couples hurtle through life and fall prey to life’s ruts and distractions, they always circle back to find one another. “A marriage”, Honore de Balzac mused, “must constantly fight the monster which devours everything: routine.”

Commitment is not 50/50 but in fact two people giving 100%.  When the rate of change outside the relationship exceeds the rate of change within it, the end is near.  Many endure dark passages where they are overwhelmed by excessive responsibility or self-pity and must fight the instinct to abandon ship.  Some idealize relationships and love, wondering why their best-laid plans are constantly sabotaged.  Many make the mistake of comparing their private “insides” to other people’s public veneers.   We cannot resist the invitation when Cosmopolitan asks us to “rate our mate.” We forget what Oscar Wilde assured us when he said “the only normal people you know are the people you do not know very well.”

 And we are still together.  A gentle sigh in the dark of midnight.  A smile across a crowded room.  An extemporaneous moment at a piano recital – rare moments that are only complete when it can be shared together.  There are flash points, disagreements, and tired, lazy shortcuts that lead to hurt feelings.  But most of us find our way back to one another like emotional strays that once fed, keep returning for sustenance.  For all their periodic insanity, we need our relationships.  Perhaps some of our stories are not as romantic as John and Nellie Wooden or New man and Woodward but we all have chapters remaining to be written and common music to left to be made.  Our experiences together are the fine threads in our common tapestry of commitment.  Each couple is its own unique work of art.  And the beauty of that art is always in the eyes of the beholder.

 Woody Allen sums it up best in Annie Hall, “this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, uh, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.” And, uh, the doctor says, “Well, why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y’know, they’re totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and… but, uh, I guess we keep goin’ through it because, uh, most of us… need the eggs.”