That’s Not Romeo

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The deployment was a long one. What had originally been scheduled as five and a half months, had been extended twice and had morphed into an almost nine month deployment. But that changed, as so many things in the military do. I had to deal with that change.

What did I do to cope? I fussed to my husband (over e-mail) while at the same time trying to be supportive of him (if that make sense). I shopped, of course. I also hung out with my fellow ship wives, who were the best people to commiserate with. We talked on lunch dates. We talked at Family Readiness Group meetings. We talked on Facebook. We held each other up. But in those conversations, I found that a few of them romanticized the relationships they had with their husbands. Don’t get me wrong – I was sure that they had romance in their marriages, but their long, flowing adoring Facebook posts about their husbands made me wonder.

I’d been married to my husband for over 10 years. While I was very much in love with him, I knew that he was no Romeo. I had to get “real” about him, I knew. That realization made me think about some of the things about my husband that weren’t Romeo-like. I figured that keeping them in mind would be a smart thing to do, as I would not set anyone up for disappointment come homecoming.

So, I made a list:

The Things He Does

1) Black lint on my beige carpets. The nature of his uniform demands that he wear black socks for work. The sight of black lint balls on the carpet of my home makes my left eyelid go wonky.

2) Smokey and the Bandit. Convoy. Cannonball Run. Other 1970’s movies (that my husband loves and I loathe) that make me get off the couch and run from the living room.

3) The way he corrects me when I get sayings wrong. I once said, “I am going to turn over every rock. I will find that book.” My husband stared at me with a bewildered expression on his face before breaking out into laughter. “You mean you will leave no stone unturned?” I want to run and hide when he does that.

So, with those things in mind, I was primed and ready for my real husband to come home – not the romanticized version of him. But then he comes home and is just amazing. He has a dozen red roses for me as soon as he leaves the ship. Silver jewelry. T-shirts. Kisses and hugs. Doing chores at home and sticking to our son’s side like glue. He’s been my wonderful husband and he hasn’t let up since he got home.

But to be fair, I told him about my list. He wasn’t a fan. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I told him that I loved him, but that my list was a coping mechanism for homecoming. As a matter of fact, I told him about one of the things I scratched off my list – the way that he repeats something I say to him in a tone because he cannot believe what I sometimes say. That made him laugh. And then, it reminded him of one of the instances when something crazy came out of my mouth.

We were at the Italian style restaurant with our then three year old son, who was just learning how to use a straw. The waitress comes to our table to ask us what we want to drink. I tell her what I want, and then proceed to tell her what I want for my son. (A little back story on me. During my childhood years, I lived EVERYWHERE. Boston, Ohio, Chicago, Texas and Puerto Rico. Half the time, I don’t know what kind of accent is going to come out of my mouth). I ask the waitress if she has covered cups for kids. She says that she does. I then apologetically say, “I don’t mean to be anal, but can you leave the ice out of my son’s water?” Not funny, right? Only, I thought I said ‘ice’. I could have sworn I said ‘ice.’ However, my husband’s shocked expression from across the table indicated otherwise. I rethought my words and realized that I had in fact said “ass” and not “ice.” That’s right. I said: “I don’t mean to be anal, but can you leave the ass out of my son’s water?” It was probably the stupidest thing I have EVER said, and let me tell you, I’ve said some stupid things in my lifetime.

But, back to my husband. He could have laughed at me. He could have chosen that moment to repeat what I said as he guffawed. But he didn’t. He contained himself as he knew that I was humiliated. Well, he contained himself as much as he could, as his three dimples were showing and his face was red as he was trying hard to not laugh out loud. He even respected my request to not discuss the words I uttered that afternoon. We only discussed it about eight months after, once I sanctioned it.

So, in that instant, I was reminded that I had my own quirks and that my husband could have probably made a list of things that were nutty about me. But he didn’t. Romeo did not come home to me, which is fine as Juliet was not the woman waiting for him on the pier.

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