Saturday, July 19, 2008

"...I'm guessing Jay Leno is out of the question..."

Marriage was supposed to end my story.

The fancy wedding was the final scene, after which I would say, "...and we've been together ever since." I was supposed to put away my bad habits like out-of-style clothes, and lead an uneventful existence until I the day I end up stuffed into a box wearing a fancy suit. But alas, things have happened.

Tim worked hard to find her job. She networked tirelessly, chased down endless leads, and tolerated every perverted restaurant owner who refused to even consider her for a chef's position because she happens to have a vagina ("You're cute! Why don't you work for me as a hostess? You'd make good money!")

She finally found a sous chef job in downtown Boston. It was far (35 miles), the pay was less than she wanted, and of course the hours were horrible, but she was thrilled.

I was thrilled for her, too. There was joy, pure joy, in her face when she told me the news. She was going to get paid to do something she absolutely loved. I was proud that she persevered, and impressed at how ambitious she was about it all. I knew she would have to work many late nights, including lots of weekends, but we'd find a way to spend time together. We were newlyweds, right?

As it turned out, "many nights" turned out to be five or six a week, "late" meant 1:00 or 2:00 am, and "lots of weekends" translated to every weekend.

At first, I felt better with a shower of kisses, an "I'm sorry, baby" and a cowgirl-style, middle-of-the-night fuck. But it got old fast.

When I wake up for work, she's still sleeping, and when I get back, she's gone, already on her way to the restaurant. I hate coming home to an empty house, with nothing for dinner and everything in darkness. I hate going to bed alone, as if I were a single guy all over again. I got married for companionship, and it feels like I never get any. Call me spoiled, or greedy, or whatever you want, but this sucks.

Tim tries to make it up to me. She didn't dare take a weekend day off for the first six months or so, but then she managed to get a Saturday and Sunday off, and took me to a bed and breakfast in the mountains, where we turned off our cell phones and she catered to me like royalty the whole time. She cooked me everything I wanted, paraded around in sexy outfits, and sucked and fucked me as if it were my last two days on Earth. I did feel a lot better after that, but she had to work 12 days straight to make up for all the favors, and nothing truly changed afterwards.

The argument goes something like this:

"You're never home."

"You supported my career choice; now deal with it."

"I didn't know it was gonna be this bad!"

Add in a few "bitch"s, "asshole"s and "fuck you!"s, and it's more or less a weekly conversation at the Caruso household. It's interesting, in a way, how we can make the exact same points so many times without resolving anything. It occurs to me sometimes that this is how marital problems get started. But that could never happen to Tim and me.

Could it?

Tim says I need to deal with it while she builds her career, since I spent many a long week building mine, and I remind her that I wasn't married or even dating anyone at the time. Every argument has a counter argument; every jab earns a jab in return. We are both too good at arguing, too good at turning things around on each other to make any progress.

Sometimes I wonder what is going to happen if we don't find any common ground on this issue. "If you want me to quit, I'll quit," she always says, but I know she doesn't mean it. If she ever left that job because of me, I'd never hear the end of it. I wonder if we would ever split up because of this.

The arguments keep getting louder, and the problem has infected other areas of our lives. On nights when she's actually home, we usually end up going to bed mad. At a party, if one of our friends mentions working late, we glare at each other. How much worse can it get?

"Why doesn't she just quit?" my brother Chris says. "Her marriage should be more important."

"Says the guy who's fucking around with some young hottie."

Yeah, he's still boning her.


"What about Tim's side? She'll say that it's just her being away from home, and that's not the end of the world either."

"You see your wife two days and two nights a week. That's not enough!"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008, 5:45pm
Steve and Tim's house

I've been in Cincinnati for three days on business. I am exhausted, physically and mentally, and glad to finally be back.

"Nice of you to come home," Tim sneers as I pull my suitcase through the door.

"Wow, three whole days alone, Tim. How did you handle it?"

"You mean three days since I had to do your laundry? And a sink full of dishes?"

"I left at three AM, Tim! How the hell was I supposed to do chores?"

She jumps up from her seat at the kitchen table. She's wearing a powder blue short-sleeve T-shirt that I've always loved on her. It's a little baggier since the breast reduction, but she's still sexy as hell in it. I'm smitten by her, even as she crosses her toned arms across her chest and looks lasers at me.

"Why are you traveling so much? I hate when you're not here!"

"You do, Tim? Why? It's not like you're ever home anyway."

"Don't be sarcastic. Your chores are your responsibility, and if you don't do them, then it's more work for me!"

The anger spills over inside me. She's reaching, looking for something to rag me about, probably so I can't rag her first.

"So leave the goddamn dishes and laundry then!" I shout. "At least let me get in the door before you start pestering me. Bitch!"

"Fuck you! You are such an asshole!" she shrieks, whipping a plastic tumbler at me. It careens off my arm, leaving a mark.

I grab the tumbler and throw it back at her as hard as I can, but she's already left the room. It bounces off the wall with a hollow thwok!

I sit at the kitchen table, waiting for my racing heart to slow down. I open the paper, but I can't concentrate. I might as well be trying to read Klingon.

I look up. Tim is standing over me, her beautiful face stony with anger. Or maybe it's disappointment.

Is this it? Is she leaving me? Is she going to ask me to leave?

"I want us to go talk to someone," she says, finally.