Pat’s a better man than I am, even though she’s biologically female. I like to think I taught her everything she knows—and a few things she didn’t. When I first met her, she was crying, “Free me, free me!” though she didn’t look bound in the least. Bobbling breasts like milk in motion. I informed her I had the right to get angry at every woman who didn’t choose me. She had furry tastes, is all I can say. A little filth is cleansing, she told me later.
I’d considered myself a kid for years, but now I’d reached that dangerous age: thirty-five. This girlfriend of yours, my friend Al prodded eventually, what’s she doing besides being twenty-two?
She dangled in front of me the promise of mayhem. She’d suck on a cherry popsicle Christ, frozen on two sticks like a crucifix but melting quickly under that thrusting tongue of hers. Sure, we can get hitched, I finally told her when she was taking a shower. Which parts of me do you want married? It’s not one of those life-decisions like chicken or fish. But saying that was like shooting myself in the foot and putting it in my mouth. She did something to me that still twinges in damp weather. She made me say, “I love you.”
She wore a wedding dress that stuck out in several directions, and we had a no-bitch clause in the nuptial contract. Let’s just say that she’s Ms. Pull and I’m Mr. Push.
The trick of marriage isn’t doing it once but again and again. It takes more effort every year. I have nothing to add, only subtract. Some nights we leave the dog inside to babysit the kids. “And they lived happily ever after” is back in the days when it was easier to tell a story. A little dullness is probably good for the soul. But I’d be lying if I said I was telling the truth.
David Galef has published thirteen books including poetry, short stories, novels, translations, and criticism. He has written over seventy short stories for magazines ranging from the British Punch to the Czech Prague Revue, the Canadian Prism International and the American Shenandoah. His essays and reviews have appeared in Twentieth Century Literature, The New York Times, and others. (updated 6/2010)