Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What a Girl Wants

I would like to begin by briefly congratulating myself on being freakishly prescient when I wrote this one year ago:

On Sunday, David and I sat in Griffith Park cuddling and watching the Snood roll around practicing his almost-crawl. We took the morning to relish an Easter that involved exactly zero Easter Eggs, Easter Baskets, and/or Bunny-Related Shenanigans, realizing that it was likely our last chance to do so for the next several decades.

What a difference a year makes.

This weekend we were up to our necks in plastic eggs, candy, and, yes, BUNNIES!

A good time was had by all, but more importantly, the entire event led me to a new understanding of marriage and its most basic truths.

Let me back up. I got married....later in life, as they say. This means that I spent the better part of 20 years looking for Mr. Right. The lesson I've taken away from those two decades (along with my Easter weekend lightbulb moment) can be summarized in this simple rule:

What one tends to look for in a successful date bears comically little resemblance to the qualities that one actually needs in a husband.

When you are dating, people always ask you "What are you looking for in a man?" When you date for as long as I did, the answer to this question is always changing and evolving as you, like Haddaway before you, ask "What Is Love?"

In my earliest dating years (say, ages 16-18, for example) I was pretty much exclusively looking to date Pierce Brosnan (specifically Pierce Brosnan from the TV Movie "Noble House").

What can I say? He was my Edward Cullen. (EMERGENCY ASIDE: Are you looking to be epically disturbed? I now present the results of a Google image search for "Edward Cullen Man Pillow"):

WOW! I don't even want to think about who is purchasing that particular item.


Anyway, it never did work out for me and Pierce, primarily because he was an international superstar and I was an overweight Catholic school 11th grader, (ah, love's fickle ways!) and so it was that I marched into my college years still single and alone...

...which offered me the perfect opportunity to hone the "dating type" that would dominate the next several years of my life --- the troubled dude that only I could understand! Ah, so many romantic months spent sublimating all my needs in order to spend the entirety of my free-time propping up some French-major's fragile ego! How I don't miss you!

Post-college, my dating life alternately marched and limped forward. I headed out on the town with a cavalcade of different suitors: The Ironically Detached Musician, The Guy Who Had "Too Much Love" to Date Just One Woman, The Emotionally Unavailable Comic, The Emotionally Over-Available Grad Student.....well, the list goes on. Through each unsuccessful relationship, I attempted to refine exactly what I was looking for in a man: he should be a good dancer, he should be exciting, maybe an artist or perhaps a professional athlete? It wouldn't hurt if he was rich, right? Also, he couldn't be a vegetarian because eating meat was too big a part of my life. He should be passionate about life, but not to the point that he got into fist fights with strangers. He should be smart and funny. He should think I'm smart and funny, too. He should definitely be handsome, and, of course - TALL!

I kept a constantly-running tally ready for each new guy I met. How many qualities on the LIST did he have? How many was enough to consider making things permanent?

But, what I've realized post-marriage is that, while I'm extremely lucky to have found a guy who has many of the qualities noted above, it is amazing to me how little those qualities I thought were so important seem to matter in our day-to-day lives.

For example, I can count on exactly ZERO fingers the amount of times I've longed for my husband to be "taller" or "more exciting". Possibly because I am too busy looking for him to be a WHOLE NEW list of things that I couldn't have possibly imagined back when I was searching for him out in dating-land.

Like, I want him to be is home from work in time for me to take a bath before bedtime, I want him to be eager to participate in our kid's day, I want him to be able to fix the back door when it breaks, and I want him to be willing to help heave me out of bed in the morning when I'm 8.5 months pregnant without laughing (OK, this one he does fail at quite regularly). How I managed to somehow luck into finding these wildly necessary qualities in a mate, while searching for something completely different, I'll never know.

For truly, I never foresaw in all those years, and on all those many dates, that what I really wanted at the end of the day was a man I could turn to one evening in late-March and say:

"Hey! How about if we invite 20 kids over for an egg hunt this weekend and you get dressed up in a 6-foot tall bunny suit?"

And that man would respond,

"You know what, honey? I'd love to."

(actual husband pictured)

Folks, if that ain't love, I don't know what is......