Happy Mardi Gras, everyone! For those of us who 1) aren’t Catholic, and 2) do not live anywhere near a city where Mardi Gras is truly celebrated, it probably doesn’t mean much. But my absolute favorite thing about being an American is that we are free to pick and choose the best of everyone else’s cultures and make them our own. And so I say, laissez le bon temps rouler!

Anyway, thinking of Mardi Gras today reminded me of a funny story I thought I’d share. A few (okay, a lot of) years ago when my husband and I were newlyweds one of his buddies forwarded him a rather scandalous picture of a girl celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans. (Use your imagination. It wasn’t X-rated but it did push the limits of an “R” rating.) The email included a note that read: “Is this your wife?”

The girl looked EXACTLY like me. EXACTLY. I mean, exactly, right down to the highlights in her hair. My husband, knowing that I had made two trips to Mardi Gras in New Orleans during college, assumed the worst. He forwarded the picture to me with a note that said, “What exactly did you do at Mardi Gras?”

My heart stopped — okay, maybe not literally, but it sure felt like it did — when I got his email. I felt so embarrassed and busted, and I truly didn’t recall doing anything like that … but it had been Mardi Gras … and I do love me some hurricanes (the drinks, not the storms). I stared at the picture long at hard, trying to remember the incident and that’s when I noticed a detail that allowed me to relax and laugh.

The girl in the picture was wearing white jeans with black thong panties. Aside from the fact that I have NEVER owned white jeans (nothing against them, they just make my legs look huge) and that I would never wear white anything to a messy street festival (ahem, hurricanes are RED) like Mardi Gras, I was raised in the south, people. Every southern matriarch in my long family line would roll over in her grave if she thought her offspring had worn black panties with white pants. I mean, a southern girl might accidentally stumble and end up with visible panty lines, but we would certainly never aim to have them.

(And, yes, all those southern matriarchs would roll over in their graves at the thought of what that girl was doing in the picture, too.)

I told my husband as much and, honestly, he didn’t appreciate the proof I’d just provided him.

“White jeans with a black thong,” I repeated. “There is no way that’s me. Ask my sister.”

So he did. And she backed me up.

“White jeans with a black thong? No way. Rebekah might have done that, but she definitely wouldn’t have worn that.”

Her reinforcement seemed to be enough for him and we have laughed about “the Mardi Gras picture” ever since.

But this does make me think about all the young girls (and boys) who are at Mardi Gras today in this, the age of camera phones. Back when I went to NOLA for Fat Tuesday posting photographic proof online required that someone buy a roll a film, take the pictures, have them developed, scan them in and upload them. Now it’s point, click, Facebook. Not that anyone who is on Bourbon Street today  is reading a blog called Operation Marriage but still … maybe those girls who’ve made poor fashion and behavioral choices should consider that someday their future spouse might get forwarded a picture of them … and it really will be them. And they’ll have some ‘splaining to do. Yikes!

 

 

 

It’s Valentine’s Day. Just thought I’d tell you all that in case you missed all the pink and red hearts everywhere. After calling my Valentine a jerk in my last post, I suppose I have some making up to do. But here’s what I will not do:

1. I will not … wait in line for an hour and a half just to get a table in one of Fayetteville’s restaurants for dinner tonight. One Valentine’s Day I planned ahead and got tickets for us to see a musical and planned an early dinner beforehand. I even called around a few days in advance to see about reservations but none of the restaurants I called accepted them. We started trying to get a table at 5:30, which is so ridiculously early it shouldn’t have been a problem, ….but Valentine’s Day is always on the 14th, which practically makes it pay day in a military town. Which, as any of you who live in a military town know, means every restaurant will be slammed, holiday or not. The musical started at 8 and at 7:15, after going to six different restaurants, all of which had a 45 minute or longer wait, we ended up in this charming little Italian bistro called Fazoli’s (that’s sarcasm, folks) … and we weren’t the only overdressed people there.

This year we’re going to take the kids to gymnastics class and then come home to something I’ve thrown together in the crockpot.  I’m not quite sure what that will be yet. This year romance means not having to sit elbow-to-elbow with a packed house full of strangers who are all trying to look romantic.

2. I will not … spend a bunch of money on a present for him. In the decade we’ve been together I have bought him only one present that he actually liked and, to tell the truth, I sort of dumb-lucked into that one.  I’ve actually started a pretty decent side business selling all the other (unused) gifts I’ve given him over the years on eBay and Craigslist. Many of them still have the tags. Likewise, he’s not so great at picking out stuff for me, either. A few years back he was on TDY and called to say he found some lingerie in a store that he thought I’d love and was shipping it to me. This is not something he normally does, so I was shocked — but not as shocked as I was when I opened the box and and discovered that the “lingerie” was made by Patagonia, the sports bra (’cause that’s what it was) was too small and the panties were “anti-microbial.” And we all know nothing says romance like “you can wear these panties for four days in the wilderness without showering and not get a yeast infection,” right girls?

This year we’re not doing gifts, flowers or candy —  though he did pick me a flowering sprig of vinka from the flower bed by the front door on his way to work this morning.

3. I will not … expect grand gestures. This has been my downfall in the past, I admit it. All the evil consumer forces conspire to make us think that everyone does Valentine’s Day in a big way and if our own experience is anything less than grand then we’ve been done wrong by our inconsiderate sweetie. And perhaps this is true for those who are 22 years old and single. But if you’re in that mode of thinking that says “my boyfriend/hubs doesn’t love me because he didn’t send flowers/buy jewelry/rent out a jumbotron, etc., let me just straighten you out: Real love has nothing to do with buying stuff. There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating Valentine’s Day in a big way and if that’s your thing then, by all means, do it up in style. But — just like your momma always told you — it really is the thought that counts.

This year I’m grateful that my husband is home so that we can NOT celebrate together. In the past we’ve been forced by deployments and other separations to opt out of V-Day. This year I’m glad we get to choose to mostly ignore it.

This year I’m grateful that he got mad at me for buying donuts last night to give the kids for a special Valentine’s Day breakfast today because, apparently, he had planned to get up early and go buy donuts  and coffee (the coffee was for me, not the kids) before the rest of us were awake. That’s real love.

And real love is dashing back to the house, even though he was running late for work, just to give me a little sprig of vinka and a kiss.

And … maybe most of all … real love is him being willing to sit through a kids’ gymnastics class even though he says all the little girls in leotards make him feel like a perv for being there, and they play the same song 30 times in an hour and a half, and that one lady on the bleachers talks incessantly about her kids and drives everyone crazy. But real love is being there anyway because nothing makes our daughter happier than seeing her daddy in the front row watching her do her “nastics”.  And that makes for a perfect a Valentine’s Day for me because, as I tell him all the time, a man looks his most handsome when he’s being  good to his children and there is nothing more precious than watching a father dote on his daughter.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you who are celebrating it, and Happy Tuesday to the rest of you!

 

11 a.m. update: It seems we will NOT be having pot roast in the crock pot tonight. I set a frozen roast on the counter to thaw and the stupid dog (we have two — the smart one and the stupid one) ate it. She actually ate the entire, frozen solid, hunk of meat — styrofoam tray, plastic wrap and all. In fact, we may end up at Fazoli’s again this year, but this time it will be (mostly) by choice. :-)

 

Allow me to explain:
There’s this mental checklist I run down every time my husband and I fight. It goes something like this:

Is he being a jerk because:
1. He is a jerk.

2. He can’t help it. His TBI is the reason he forgot (my birthday, to take out the trash, my sister’s name, to take one extra step so his dirty clothes would actually make it INSIDE the hamper this time, etc.).

3. Maybe it’s late onset PTSD. Didn’t I read that one of the signs is increased irritability and forgetfulness?

4. He’s still not used to life at home after all these years of war. It’s not PTSD or TBI, it’s transitioning. But for the love of God, how long is it going to take the man to transition? Is there a statute of limitations on this crap?

5. Maybe he’s not the jerk, maybe I am. Maybe he’s right and I’m wrong.

6. …And maybe I’ve always been the jerk but he’s been gone too much for either of us to notice it until now…

7. No, that can’t be it. I get along fine with everyone else. Must be that he’s always been a jerk but has been gone too much and for too long for me to notice it until now.

8. Nope. I noticed it yesterday, too. So does that mean that it is PTSD or TBI?

9. And if his jerkiness is medical, is it fair for me to get mad at him for it? I mean, I wouldn’t get mad at him for lying on the couch if he had cancer and I wouldn’t expect him to take out the trash if he were missing his legs. I wouldn’t yell at him for dozing off if he had narcolepsy. Maybe I’m just being insensitive?

10. No, I cry for roadkill. If anything, I’m oversensitive.

11. But if this is a war wound, what am I supposed to do about this? Insist on better? Suck it up and live with it? Seek treatment for him? If I think he’s a jerk now, just wait until I suggest that he has PTSD…

12. Arghh.

So this has been going on for a while now and, no, I haven’t figured out the answer. For what it’s worth, I’m 95% sure it’s not PTSD because our arguments tend to be of the Mars/Venus type and I’m pretty sure that combat has nothing to do with that. (Though in mythology Mars WAS the God of War…hmm…)

Anyway, it occurred to me this morning that this checklist has effectively rendered PTSD and TBI the male version of PMS, which almost makes it kind of fun for me.  Almost. Now everytime he screws something up, I can just (breathe deeply, count to 10) then rub his head and say in baby cooing tones, “Awww, it must be your wittle TBI messy-wessying up your thinking again.” Which has about the same effect on him as his “Must be your time of the month.” comments have on me. If only he got chocolate cravings and bloated a couple of days in advance as a warning…

I didn’t say it was a good solution, people. Just an equitable one.