My wife and have been married twenty-four years.
That's kind of a long time, you know? When I really pondered this the other day, I realized the last time I kissed any female other than her or another family member, East German soldiers were still shooting at people trying to escape over the wall in balloons made from pig ears and babushka scraps.
It was an era when I remember defying Nancy Reagan's pleas on a regular basis.
The basketball I watched during this period was still played in shorts constricting enough to render an entire generation of male athletes infertile. To this day, the torso-less specter of a Larry Bird's lower extremities haunts me with a relentless vigor.
It's when my mom and dad were the same age I am now. Ouch.
Throughout my wife's and my storied epoch, situations have arisen which have chipped away at the once pristine asphalt of our relationship's high road.
Okay, that's a little murky, so let me explain.
When you first begin dating someone, you reveal only that portion of your personality that is charming and alluring, which in my case was a tad under thirty percent. I could hold it together for a good long while, sometimes even an entire weekend, knowing that I'd eventually be free to return home and scarf an entire double cheese pizza, watch The Three Stooges marathon and scratch any itch that needed addressing.
Any itch at all.
Then we moved in together. Suddenly, I had to discreetly unsheathe my most unappealing characteristics while trying to cling to the momentum of that inspired the invitation to her hearth in the first place.
Practical considerations instantly abounded:
Where will I find a spot in the living room for my Rush poster?
What if I can't pee in the back yard?
Was I now expected to do stuff I'd seen my dad do, like taking out the garbage, changing the oil and—the holy grail of "since you're going, would you mind..." errands—buying anything made by either Playtex, Kotex or Tampax?
I remember thinking: Are you there God? It's me, Tim. If you love me like Jimmy Swaggart says you do, please drop a pack of the kind with plastic applicators in my lap right now, because otherwise I know I'll see one of my friends at Safeway shopping for Trojans two feet from my station in the feminine hygiene section.
I know what you're thinking. Grow up, little man.
And I did. In fact, I just got back from the store and guess what was nestled in the bag right next to the fat free Ready Whip, its packaging wispily decorated in pastel blues and pinks?
It wasn't the freaking Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Yes, humility slowly erodes as we ramble down that freeway with our partner. By the time childbirth rolls around, as the kids say, "Shit gets real." Although guys have usually bared every unsightly aspect of themselves by this point, all remnants of female modesty are quickly shed when a baby is brought into the world.
And the odd thing is, nothing is gross. Everything is surreal and amazing. By the time that veiny, blue little noggin crowns, you've seen a lot, but you've also worked your way slowly up to that moment.
From then on, no subject is sacrosanct or taboo. Feces is everywhere—on your skin, on your clothes, sometimes landing in perilous proximity to your mouth and mucus membranes. You talk about when your kid poos, how frequently, how much and what color. You compare amounts consumed to quantities expelled...
...and you talk about it with each other in the same manner you formerly discussed which appetizer to order or which earrings look better with that top.
The reason I'm bringing all this up is because the other day, my wife and I went toilet shopping. We traipsed down the expansive aisle at Lowe's and stopped at a massive display of the latest in bathroom barcalounger technology.
They had really cool names, like the "Cadet 3" and the "Archer." Needless to say, I was swept up in commode mania, and I'm not going to lie—my bride appeared equally stoked about picking out a new organic matter displacement device.
Ultimately, our crucible emerged. Scrawled on a sign next to the American Standard "Champion" were the words that closed the deal:
"Capable of flushing an entire bucket of golf balls!"
No words were necessary; we looked at each other like we'd just stumbled upon our dream house.
How life has changed.