7 Jul 2009 In: Relationships

As we were running errands the other night Dick was suddenly overcome with a sharp pain in his lower back.  At first he thought it was a back spasm but after a few minutes spent writhing in pain on the sidewalk it became clear to me that we were dealing with a kidney stone.  With confused and inquisitive children in tow, we piled into the car and rushed Dick to the ER. 

As Dick tried to breathe through the pain and answer questions from me like, “When was the last time you peed?  What color was it?” and from Adam like, “How do you get stoned, daddy?”, I would try to intervene on Dick’s behalf to spare him the agony of sounding calm while formulating a rational explanation for a 5 year old.

“Daddy isn’t stoned. He has a little ouchie inside his back.  Mommy’s going to take him to the hospital so the doctors can help him.”

Apparently still concerned Adam peppered me with more questions, “But will the doctor take away Daddy’s stone?  Can I see it?  Will daddy’s head fall off?”

“No, sweetheart.  The doctor will help daddy with his ouchie which is called a kidney stone and it’s in his back; it has nothing to do with daddy’s head.”

Looking at his face, I could tell he was processing the information I’d just given him.  Finally satisfied, he confirmed his assessment of the  situation by saying, “Getting stoned is bad and it could make your head fall off, but doctors can help with that.”

“Um…yeah.  We’ll talk more about it later…like, when you’re old enough to understand what a PSA is.”


They say that kidney stones are like the male version of childbirth and I can see why.  By the time we reached the hospital Dick’s breathing had become quick and shallow and he was holding his lower back and pacing like a woman about to give birth. 

As the hours wore on, my poor Dick become more and more like an Hollywood version of a woman in labor alternating between exhausted declarations of love and swearing at me like a sailor.  I couldn’t tell which Dick I was trying to comfort - the one who loved me desperately or the one who wanted Jesus Fucking Christ to stop the pain.

Being the partner of someone in immense pain gave me a new appreciation for what it must be like for all those hapless husbands who sit around fussing with the camera equipment or spitting out trite motivational statements like, “Way to go, babe – you’re doing great” as their partner is literally ripped in two from the inside out.   As I stood there next to Dick, wailing in pain, I found myself wondering, “What should I say?”  I mean – it’s a little awkward to say the least.  Communication with someone in agony is a tricky business.  Chatty & overly supportive and you become annoying but quiet and distant only gets you labeled as useless.  Basically it’s a no-win situation for everyone. 

Unsure of what to do, I opted for making light-hearted wisecracks.  I soon learned that it’s hard for your comic stylings to be heard or appreciated over the howls of a loved one screaming in agony.  Then I tried being the sympathetic, comforting type – mopping Dick’s sweaty brow, covering his exposed feet with blankets, and harassing passing nurses for his next dose of narcotics.  That was met with annoyance, as I obsessively mopped, covered and harassed with the zeal of a fat kid at a candy-eating contest. 

In the end I’m sure I did no better and no worse than most hapless male spouses caught in a birthing situation.  At least I gained some insights about myself as a result of this experience, mainly that A) This excruciating pain represented an unwelcome shift in attention away from me and onto Dick and  B) I don’t like to be upstaged.  I also learned that it’s simply no fun to watch someone you love suffer – even if they really did have it coming over their repeated failure to get the recyclables outside in time for Friday’s pick-up. 


After some serious narcotics the doctor proclaimed Dick to be the proud father of twins – one 3 millimeter stone with a second 2 milimeter stone waiting in the wings – yet to pass.  To add insult to injury, he was told that his stones were too small for them to do much more than prescribe pain relief while nature takes it’s course through Dick’s dick.  For all the excruciating pain, he didn’t even end up with a follow-up appointment with a urologist.  As births go, Dick’s kidney stones were more annoying than worrisome and more painful than joyful.  

At least I can take comfort in knowing that Dick has scored some pretty hefty pain meds which he will, in all liklihood, refuse to take.  That means mommy has something to kill those quarterly migraines when the Excedrin doesn’t cut it.  To me, getting stoned on Vicodin is way better than screaming in pain as Dick tries to be helpful, and reclaiming my rightful place as the center of Dick’s universe is way better than playing nurse. 

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1 Jul 2009 In: Relationships

As my posse was driving to Chick-fil-A for “Kids Eat Free” Tuesday somehow the topic shifted to who’s the coolest person each of us has ever known.  Reliably, Adam’s was Shaggy from Scooby Doo and Tabitha’s was her friend, Charlie.  I didn’t need to hesitate with my response. 

Immediately I declared that Dick was the coolest person I’d ever know.  I meant it, too – -from the bottom of my heart.  He is, without a doubt, the coolest person in the world to me.  My charming, smart, funny, kind and beloved Dick.

I smiled and gazed over at my handsome husband, stroking his cheek with my fingertips.  Dick smiled back at me and said, “Kids, your grandfather is by far the coolest person I’ve ever known.”

“OUCH!”, I exclaimed in faux agony.  “Your father is the coolest person you’ve ever known?  How can that be?  Where am I on the cool-o-meter?”

Dick squirmed slightly in his chair.

“For a chick, you’re definitely cool.”

“Okaaay…still in pain over here…”

Dick rolled his eyes.  “You’re completely misunderstanding what I’m saying.  I think we have two very different interpretations of ‘cool’.  You are wonderful, clever, thoughtful and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“And that doesn’t make me cool?”

“That makes you the most wonderful person I’ve ever known,” Dick said, caressing my hand.

“Well, for the record, you are both the coolest AND the most wonderful person I’ve ever know,” I replied.

Dick sighed and looked at me with that annoyed expression that told me I was fast falling off his “most wonderful person” list, as well. 

“What?  It’s not like I have anything to lose now that I know I’m not cool.”

“Fine, then.  You’re cool.  Can we change the subject now?”

“I don’t want your token cool, I want to be ‘the coolest ever’!  Because you insisted on relegating me to merely wonderful, I’m going to rescind my description of you as the coolest person ever and choose someone who worships me with more enthusiasm than you’re  interested in showing.”

“Who would that be?” Dick asked in a voice full of condescension.

“I haven’t decided yet.  I’m trying to give you time to reconsider your previous statement about my coolness.”

“Sam, you REALLY need to let it go…Really.”

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Love is Many Spamered Thing

30 Jun 2009 In: Relationships

My dear friend Edna Lee is getting married in a few weeks and she has chosen yours truly to be her matron of honor.

(Personally, I wouldn’t be my first choice for the wedding photos, but I guess Ed likes to walk on the wild side.)

Of course, I’m thrilled for my friend and honored to be a part of her wedding,  And still thrilled & honored despite Ed’s recent request order for me to write & deliver a speech during her wedding reception.

While I’m incredibly flattered by her faith in my writing & speaking abilities – I’m all too aware that it’s her wedding day.  This is a big deal.  This is not the time for one of my quirky quips.  As a writing challenge, I’m more than a bit humbled and awed by the great responsibility…


After Ed nixed my initial suggestion of an x-rated limerick on the grounds that her mother would disapprove, I was forced to re-examine my approach.  I began pretending that I’m a really skilled wordsmith and brilliant creative writer.  WWJAD (what would Jane Austen do)?

When channeling Jane Austen didn’t stir up any big ideas, I went back to the basics.  As with all design, you need to start with a good concept and let it grow.  I began by running through a list of possibilities:

  • A heart-warming poem?  Nope, not Ed’s style.
  • A collection of famous quotes about love?  Nice, but shouldn’t this be more about Ed’s love?
  • A stirring tribute to the power of love?  That just demands mockery from my wickedly witty friend.
  • A PowerPoint presentation with marriage tips?  Definitely more her style and it’s cute.  Unfortunately, maybe too cute…

Frustrated and devoid of inspiration, I decided to comb through boxes of old high school mementos in search of ideas.  Amongst the folded notes and yellowing photos, I discovered my small collection of year books dating back to junior high.  As I opened the cover from my 1989 high school yearbook, I found it – inspiration from a very unlikely source – Dick.

There, on the inside cover of my annual, written in the 3rd grader scrawl I’m just now learning to decipher, is this most ardent expression of love:


The evolution of spam is usually a topic best left to the extremely educated members of the scientific community, but today I’ll relate this story in layman’s terms for you, my sweetheart…


(Just kidding – I think!)

Anyway, I can’t wait to have another great year with you in my arms and in my life. I love you.

P.S. I want my (BEEP) to (BEEP) your (BEEP).

P.P.S. I can’t think of much to say – obviously – so I’ll just say infinite hugs and kisses coming your way.

Never before or since have feelings of love been so eloquently expressed on the page.  Feeling weak in the knees, aren’t you?

Okay, so it’s mostly the ramblings of a Monty Python-obsessed, love-struck teen boy.  But there – amongst the spam – is also Dick’s trademark playfulness, his intelligence, and his immensely loyal spirit.  Everything I ever needed to know about my future husband was in that note in my high school yearbook and only now do I appreciate it in all it’s goofy, spam-handed glory.  As well, everything Ed ever needed to know about her soon-to-be husband is already out there – in an email, an expression, or maybe in a moment that passed between them somewhere along their journey together.

Pushing aside all my cute concepts and pithy prose, the only meaningful thing I can say to my friend on her wedding day is that this constant rediscovery of her lover is the gift of marriage.  It’s a gift that unfolds day in and day out over time, revealing itself in ways old and new, subtle and delightful and it’s theirs to have and hold, from this day forward.

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