My Funny Valentine
One of the benefits of many years of marriage is that the longer you are together, the more “inside jokes” the years will afford you. Incidents that at the time create a confrontation may later become the source of a fair amount of laughter.
And the traits in the other that can present a challenge in early marriage may just become the stuff of great endearment in later years.
Mandarin Oranges, Anyone?
Mary Jo: I had spent most of the day preparing a nice meal for our company. Extending hospitality through a specially prepared meal goes back to my Italian roots and is deeply part of my identity. At this point, I do not recall who the guests were, but as we all sat down, I saw Dennis survey the table. Apparently, the offerings looked sparse, because he turned to me and said, “Is there anything else to bring out? How about a can of mandarin oranges?”
At that point, my day’s efforts seemed worthless, and I could feel my face getting red. To say that I felt like a temperamental chef was an understatement. I pictured mandarin oranges dripping around his ears, like some three stooges slapstick, and I felt pretty steamed about it for the rest of the evening. When company left, I let him know that I did not appreciate his critique of the meal in front of everyone, and that gourmet sometimes meant “less is more”!
We laugh about this now, and I know that what seemed like a big deal then was part of discovering the quirky ways that make us love one another even more.
Dennis: I can’t recall Mary Jo being such a fanatic for coffee in our early years of marriage but somewhere along the line she has developed a deep love for a good cup of coffee, or the “nectar of the gods” as she likes to put it. I think she can sometimes be a bit of a coffee snob, but she thinks of it as being a connoisseur of the roasted bean. She pretty much judges a restaurant by the quality of the coffee which they serve. If it is not up to her standards in terms of strength and temperature, (i.e., it has to practically burn the roof of your mouth), then you can be sure we will not likely be returning to that establishment anytime soon.
And it is not just the coffee itself but everything associated with it that comes under her critique. For example, Mary Jo insists on drinking her coffee in a mug which has perfectly vertical sides. That is, no flared rims or those fancy glass mugs for her. I guess somehow this makes the liquid go down smoother or it is less likely to spill a precious drop. Also, the lids on those paper cups which the drive-through coffee shops serve their brew in are rated for quality by Mary Jo. I will not name names, but the large nation-wide chain which serves their coffee with those lids with the little hole to sip from is just not up to her standard. Apparently, the coffee tends to squirt out of the hole, not allowing for a proper sip to capture the brew’s true aroma and flavor. Even at the one chain we frequent around the Buffalo area, Mary Jo must tear back their lid’s flip-up tab so that it can allow for the proper size opening. Finally, don’t even try to serve her coffee made by one of those single-cup brewers. To me the coffee tastes just fine, especially for a quick cup before going off to work. But of course that must be because I have untrained taste buds. To the sophisticated coffee connoisseur like Mary Jo, the brew that emanates from that machine is just not fit to be drunk.
You may be thinking that I am being awfully picky about Mary Jo and her coffee habits. Yes, I am amused by some of her quirks when it comes to the fine art of coffee appreciation, and we do enjoy a good laugh sometimes when her standards are not met. But in fact, over the years I have come to really appreciate her discriminating taste and judgement for what goes into making a good cup of coffee. And I have to admit, she does makes a mean cup of joe! Just don’t ever try to put flavored creamer in her coffee, but that is a story for another time.
Mary Jo: Ephesians recommends, “…live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love” (4:1-3).
I have a funny and quirky Valentine…and did I mention that he is my dearest friend, too?
I have learned to step aside when he loads the dishwasher with engineering precision (they all come out clean, so who cares how they are positioned?!). He tolerates my overindulgence in the news and my love of all things “bakery.” And together, we savor and enjoy this rich history of quirky moments and characteristics that make life such a beautiful journey!