Love and Marriage and Friends and Food and Booze

The Inn at Craig Place

Lisa and I are driving to San Antonio tomorrow, or as they say in Larry McMurtry novels, Santone. (I’m not telling you this so you can rob our house while we’re out. Only seven people ever read my blog. So if we get robbed, it’s going to be a pretty short suspect list.) We’re going for the wedding of one of my oldest friends. He and I both come from Fort Worth. He lives near San Antonio now. The place he and his fiance chose for their wedding, coincidentally happens to be the same Bed and Breakfast Lisa and I were married in mumble mumble years ago. When he told me they were getting married at a B&B in San Antonio, I asked which one, just out of curiosity. When he told me, I had to search my mental records to be sure it was the same place. It was a it’s-a-small-world moment. (Not the ride… that would be a crappy moment.)

I’m actually looking forward to this wedding. I usually hate weddings, but I prefer them to graduations. My preference for social gatherings goes in this order from most to least preferable; adult parties, weddings, funerals, graduations, children’s birthday parties. The ranking is influenced by the presence of alcohol, cake (wedding cake is far superior to birthday cake) and children. If you’re weird enough to want me at your child’s birthday party, you’ll be required to host an open bar and significantly decrease the number of children attending. You’ll also have to live with the knowledge that I’d rather be at your funeral.

Going to San Antonio is always a treat. If I can’t be at home, and I can’t be at Disney World, I’d like to be in San Antonio. If I was going to live any other place it would be there. Lisa and I used to go down there a few times a year. I proposed in Gruene, and like I said already, we were married in San Antonio. We’ve been to the Alamo a few times. We got drunk at the bar in the Menger Hotel where Teddy Roosevelt recruited many of his Rough Riders in 1898. And we’ve spent hours on the River Walk and in the Mercado.

I’m also looking forward to is seeing two of my oldest friends. We’ve put some miles between us, so we all get together very rarely. And as we get older the occasions of our reunions aren’t always happy ones. It’ll be nice to see them at a celebratory time, to share a few meals and a few drinks and a few days. Speaking of meals and drinks, Lisa and I have been living la vida low carb for a few weeks. So it’s going to be blissful to binge on carbs and booze for three straight days. I intend to get diabetes and cirrhosis by Sunday.

Most of all I’m looking forward to hanging out with my wife. I know, weird, right? I work with a man whose job requires him to be at work from  8 to 5 weekdays; however, he comes in as early as 6:30 or 7 and stays until 6:30. He mentioned the other day that he gets up at 3 every morning to go for a short run on the treadmill and do his other morning stuff (without knowing what else he does, let’s assume it’s chronic masturbation) and get to work early. His wife works from home and they have no children. His self imposed unnecessarily onerous work schedule would indicate he doesn’t like to be around his wife. He’s up and out the door so early she can’t possibly be up yet. And if he’s getting up at 3 every morning, he can’t be staying up late. So he’s getting in nearly in time for bed. Did I mention he golfs? Yeah, he goes golfing on the weekends. You’re wondering what this has to do with me and Lisa hanging out together. It’s this, my life couldn’t be more different. Lisa is my best friend. I look forward to seeing her every day. I look forward to hearing about her day. I like hanging out with her, whether it’s just around the house, on the town or in a car for five hours. I get excited when she texts or calls. We joke all the time about how we don’t have any couple friends. She says it’s because we’re antisocial. Just reading that sentence, you know that can’t work. We can’t be antisocial. Our love of each other disproves that. The fact is we’re a couple of happy introverts. Yes… and I’m antisocial.

What I wish for my friend is a marriage like mine. I hope this weekend that he says his vows to his best friend. I hope he rushes home from work to be with her. I hope he looks forward to their routine trips to the grocery store. I hope their love fills every hole in his life. Also, I hope the cake is good.

Ah that’s just drunk talk, sweet beautiful drunk talk.

Alcohol… There are few things closer to my heart, and none closer to my liver. Come to think of it, there are few things closer to my heart than my liver. They say to write about what you know. Not sure who “they” are, but I’m certain I was drunk when I heard it. (The entire opening of this blog should be read as though spoken by Groucho Marx.)
                          
I’d like to preface the remainder of this blog by saying:
          1. I don’t have a problem.
          2. I can quit any time.
          3. I learned it from watching you, okay!
I can’t remember when I had my first taste of alcohol. My dad used to let me have a sip of beer if I brought him one from the fridge. (No need to alert Jeff Foxworthy. I know what I might be.) I’ve been drinking for the joy of it since High School, but I don’t think I came to a mature approach to drinking until my late twenties. Before then it was always about getting drunk, usually for social reasons. These days I’m more of an anti-social drinker, and only occasionally drunk.

My favorite drink is wine. I prefer a Chiraz or Cabernet. This is a great cheap way to get woozy, and one of the only ways I can get a buzz without getting full. As cocktails go, I like Jack and Coke or Pineapple Rum and Coke. I drink my Jack and Coke from a special cup used only for that purpose. The Rum and Coke I drink from a 44 ounce glass filled over halfway with rum. I also enjoy a sweet salty Margarita. That taste of tequila triggers a puke memory in most of us, right? Of course beer is universal. It goes with everything from Monday night football to Saturday night baseball. (Don’t let that sentence fool you into thinking I take Sundays off.) I hate it when I get to that first Budweiser commercial and there’s no beer in the house. I will pause a game and go buy beer if that happens.
Most nights I have a drink when I get home. Usually it’s just a glass of wine, but at the end of a difficult day it may be far more serious. I have no qualms about drinking alone. I don’t know where that social hang up came from, but “drinking” and “alone” go together quite nicely. Sometimes they like to invite “in the dark” and “in my underwear” to the party. 
One night I got tired of getting up to refill my wine glass, so I brought the bottle back to the living room with me. Lisa saw me refilling from the couch and said, “You don’t have to use a glass on my account. You know you want to drink from the bottle.” I considered it, but decided that’s a line I don’t need to cross. Not yet, at least.

Couple Friends

I’m certain most married men can relate to this. My wife, Lisa, is frequently trying to find us couple friends to hang out with. This involves starting with a woman she is already friends with, usually someone from work or from high school, then introducing the husbands into the mix. In order for this to be successful, the husbands (me and the other guy) must become friends. Ideally we would become the kind of friends who would hang out without our wives around, thus creating a sub-group within the couple friend dynamic. The statistical probability of this formula working is approximately 285:1 against. The obstacles to success are abundant, but I’ll pick off a few obvious ones.
Social Science. Men don’t quickly bond with other men. The bonds among men take years to form and are often shaped by shared tragedy or at least shared adversity. I’m pretty sure this is true of most male mammals. If you need examples, check out monkeys, lions or elephants. The herds, or whatever, are made up of females and babies. The males are either off somewhere alone or with males with whom they grew up. If a new male is introduced into the pack of males, it is summarily humiliated, beaten and assigned a lesser position in the chain of command or it takes control of the pack by ousting the current leader (this might happen in human groups if The Rock showed up).

Social Disorders. I used to think I was introverted, but now I’m certain that I’m antisocial. I’m comfortable in crowds, and I’m okay being openly antisocial. There is a quote in the new BBC “Sherlock Holmes” series where Sherlock says, “I’m not a psychopath. I’m a high functioning sociopath. Do your research.” I get that. As Lisa has tried to bring her friends’ husbands around, I have picked them off, one by one, as unworthy. I am willing to admit that if I had a problem with one man or two or even three, it could be them. But if my problem is with every man (or, let’s face it, every man, woman and child), it may be me. I remember when I was much younger, choosing not to ask a girl out because she had a bunch of friends, and I really didn’t like them. It seemed easier to just not try, than to start a relationship that would end with me telling her that everyone she knows is an asshole.

Offspring. We have a twelve year old son. If the other couple has a child of similar age, then they must also get along. If the other couple has a baby or toddler, then it’s just never going to work. I am past the point in my life where I want to make social arrangements around a little child. I don’t want to double date to a Pixar film or have to work around naps or listen to tantrums. Sometimes Lisa, who is a Labor and Delivery Nurse, will meet people at work who are having a baby and who seem like a perfect match to us socially. All I can think when I hear this is, “do I really want to spend a lot of time around a baby?”

Alcohol. We like to drink. I like it a lot. I drink in crowds. I drink alone. It’s one of the only ways I am able to function socially. That Lisa also likes to drink, and is okay with my constant drinking is one of the magic bonds that hold us together. Trying to be couple friends with people who don’t drink is a deal breaker. If their reason for not drinking is religious, all the more so.

Humor, politics, and religion. I have a very dry sense of humor, and a caustic wit that is fully engaged 95% of the time. If you look up caustic wit, you will probably find sarcasm as a synonym. If the other couple is not of a similar demeanor, this could be a problem. Lisa and I are both quite liberal in our social politics and in our religion. Of the two of us, she is the one you would describe as having a religion. Any one of these factors if discussed openly can make or break a friendship.

So if you’ve been friends with my wife for years, and your husband and I are on an equal socio-economic plane, and we have shared a trauma together, probably brought on by being drunk, funny and antisocial in a public place, then this could work. If it’s not a perfect fit, but you’d generally describe yourself as a secular humanist and you’re willing to let your husband narrowly avoid being arrested or beaten up in a bar fight then it may be worth a try. Provided you don’t have small children.