Today Mrs. Caldo and I have been married half our lives. In honor of the occasion, I bought her flowers and a card. Understand: Flowers and a card are black swan events in the Caldo mating rituals. It is a bird that has alighted in our life no more than five or six times in nearly eighteen years. Put another way: Mrs. Caldo saves the fowl petals from each of these because–after all–who knows if it will happen again?
Nearly Eighteen years. A half-life for this mid-mid-thirties man. When I went to the flower shop, the man asked me what I was looking for, and I told him I really had no idea; I’d only just thought of them a couple hours before.
“I have a special on roses, $18.99 for a dozen…wrapped in paper.”
“No thanks.” I didn’t add that roses are are the common romantic currency of our time, and therefore anathema to me. I don’t use credit cards, leins, or any other form of debt, either. “What else do you have?”
“Well, we’re actually getting them in right now. I have some lilies, and some gerber daisi-“
“Let me see the daisies.” While he went to the back to, I assume, pull them off the truck, I took a gander at the card carousel: “Get Well. Sympathy. Birthday. Anniversary…”
Sympathy. One of them had impressionist flowers that looked sort of happy, sort of sad. The inscription read, “Sending prayers of peace and comfort to help you through this difficult time. With Deepest Sympathy.”; to which I added, “Happy Half-Life!”
On the matching envelope, I added my own inscription: “Because you’re a daisy when life doesn’t come up roses.”
I drove to her office in my extraordinarily inefficient 4×4 SUV, and delivered them to her. After a series of squeals, hugs, and kisses she put them in her office and asked if I wanted to meet her friend. I’ve met her before. Lately I’ve been telling my wife about the mistakes her friend is making by leaving a man who loves her to pursue her “career” in another city. She’s 26, and pretty in the plain way most women are when they’re young, but won’t be by 35. That is, right about the time she really starts to regret choosing “self-actualizing empowerment” over a decent man who loves her. She darkened at my heralding; recalling my words uttered from my wife’s mouth: “You’re going to regret this, and Cane predicted you’d leave that boy when he told you I love you.”
Meanwhile, the receptionist paid for my parking.
On this same day, Ulysses linked to a post by someone called Donlak, whom I’ve never read before. Donlak’s post, Get Married, is an apology for marriage in this era of sluts, misandry, and unmanliness. The quick version is: “Get married because…fuck it. And if you’re scared to get married, you’re a romantic agoraphobe.” Ulysses (recognizing the impoverished nature of such an argument when female-driven frivolous divorce is rampant, and alienation of affection is de rigueur) directs us to a poem by Pablo Neruda for a reason to marry. It ends this way:
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.
There is only one reason to marry, and that is to own a woman, body and soul. And by that owning, enter her, and become one with her; in the way we own the bodies into which we are born; the way our limbs respond to our head, and our heads investigate and invest in what is good for our limbs. We meet in the chest, at the heart of the matter.
And sometimes, the receptionist will see this and pay for the parking.