Pure Slush, Marriage Lifespan, Vol. 6, August 2022
A simple name, Joe. I’ve always planned on something more exotic, at least two syllables, preferably three. I imagine picnicking in a park in Barcelona or Milan with Renoir or Constantine, wine, bread and romance. Joe, one syllable, barely any letters. I’m not meant to marry a Joe.
It’s a perfect September day. Tourists have returned to the city, the beach uncrowded, wide open. Bare feet, playing chicken with the waves as they reach the shore, daring them to soak us. Casually, he leads me from the water’s edge onto dry sand. It’s nothing like in the middle of the summer when it burns like hellfire. This feels like a hug, a tickly warm sand caress.
He kneels, and I think, wait, am I being proposed to? It’s not like I need a dancing flash mob, strangers applauding under the arch in Washington Square Park, or graffiti on the overpass. But this is a surprise. I suppose being proposed to on the beach, feet cradled by warm sand is pretty much as good as it gets. Other than his tiny name, there isn’t anything wrong with Joe. In fact, there are many things right.
Pros: He doesn’t watch football, ensconced on the couch staring at the television all day Sunday in a pile of greasy junk food crumbs. He’s kind, funny, quirky. He loves my cat. The first time he spent the night, when I came to get in bed, my cat was kneading and drooling on his chest. He doesn’t have a pet of his own so we can get a dog. Or more cats. I figure he’d be a great dad, so good with my cat, imagine him with a human of his own. He keeps the knives hidden in the cabinet. He’s a grown up. He washes his whites and darks separately. He seems to love me, so much so that he’s about to ask me to marry him. I wonder where he stands on picnics?
Cons: He uses thick, fluffy toilet paper. The roll runs out so fast I use practically half of it for one poop. It’s embarrassing, like I’m a huge pooping toilet paper hog. Also, it leaves linty white stuff on my cooch and I don’t shave down there so it gets all stuck. He doesn’t mind that I don’t shave. (Pro) Does he buy it because it's fancy or because it’s cheap? Maybe he grabs whatever’s on the shelf without a thought. Can I marry a man that I don’t know something this fundamental about?
Neither pro nor con: He plays video games. He almost always wears a hat. Usually a baseball cap, but sometimes a fedora. He’s not even bald, like he has a full head of hair. The hat can stay, but it is a confusion.
Will he fight me on baby names? I’ve got my ideas. If it’s a boy, so far I’ve got Lucien, Alistair and Rafferty. Rafferty because it means one who will prosper, not because I like the sound of it. I kind of like Jasper, known as the supreme nurturer, one who brings tranquility and wholeness. I’m not sure though. It sounds like he’s the butler instead of the mansion owner.
For a girl there’s Evangeline, bearer of good news. Angelique because it’s awesome. Justine, because, just because. Picking out names is the fun part of being pregnant. I don’t know if there are any other fun parts, except sometimes walking down the sidewalk, or in the mall I think, huh, I’m pregnant and I feel special.
My first night at his house, I wanted to surprise him with my fancy oatmeal for breakfast. He had everything – organic oats, cinnamon (also organic), Himalayan pink salt, raisins, and almonds. When I searched for cinnamon I found his spices, bunches of them. Cumin, coriander, basil, oregano. He even had bay leaf and arrowroot. What the hell does he do with arrowroot?
I couldn’t find a knife so I bit the almonds into pieces. He loved the oats, or at least he said he did. I never told him about biting the almonds and he never asked. I still make oatmeal. It’s our thing, a ritual. I bring my Swiss Army knife to cut the nuts. My dad gave it to me for my 16th birthday. It has everything – tweezers, scissors, a corkscrew. My prized possession. I can see him doing that, giving our kid an amazing knife.
I’ve always thought co-parenting seemed appealing though. Parents get time off. Freedom. Summertime at the beach without, “I have to go to the bathroom.” the minute you get there. “Pee in the ocean.” “I can’t, it’s poop!” Nope, he’s got the kids and you’re lying under an umbrella with a cooler of beer, extra spicy salsa, and guac and chips. No worries about losing your kid in their polka-dot bathing suit that blends in with the thousands of others. But he doesn’t want to co-parent. He wants us to be married and raise this kid together.
I make a mental list of things to discuss: 1. Toilet paper. 2. Hat. 3. Picnic. 4. Arrowroot. 5. Almonds?
I look up. How long has he been there on one knee? A nanosecond? An hour? I want to say yes, but I can’t choke it out. Sure doesn’t seem earnest enough. Finally, I look into his eyes. They’re hazel. (Pro) Maybe our baby will have hazel eyes, or even better, green. “Of course,” I say. He smiles, and I’m pretty sure lets out a sigh. Toilet paper is negotiable, hat, arrowroot can wait. Almonds, maybe forever. “On one condition,” I say, as he visibly clenches. “You go on a picnic with me.”