For our wedding ceremony last year my husband and used e.e. cummings’ poem, “i carry your heart with me” as our vows. My husband is a poetry lover and I am still working on its appreciation, even though I’ve tried for three decades. The truth is I agreed to this poem because I really heard it in the movie, In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette. We made our real promises to each other off the record. I will clean the cat shit and he cleans the cat puke. I do most of the cooking and he makes the amazing salads. I will accompany him on date afternoons to Costco, but he will ALWAYS handle the returns.
Costco and Trader Joes serve as our primary food source and both establishments generously accept returns to anything not in our satisfaction – no questions asked. They politely receive whatever spoiled or half-tasted food I bring in, with a smile. I never make eye contact, feeling guilty usually for the condition of the food. With clothing, it’s easy, everything returns intact. But a dozen pears, which all ripened simultaneously on the first day I brought them home, looked brown and shriveled, oozing syrup into their cardboard box. I waited a week to bring them back because I didn’t want to take a special trip down three highways just for a return, knowing I’d be back a week later for my usual refill.
Today, though, beyond avoiding eye contact, a giggling laughter took over me as I witnessed the return. My husband approached the return counter, a smile plastered across his face, carrying a case of dozen overripe dripping pears and a double bag of Skinny Pop popcorn. One of the bags was opened by my 14-year-old while he was babysitting one evening. He called me while I was out to say, “We have no way of closing the popcorn.” I advised him to “be resourceful” and figure something out. Two nights later when I wanted some popcorn I noticed he had stapled it partially closed, leaving gaping holes between the metal sutures. The popcorn turned stale instantly.
As my husband balanced the plastic on top of the rotten fruit and gently placed them on the too-high Costco return counter, one juicy brown pear rolled over and squished audibly and it caused a handful of popcorn to explode from the gaps in the hole. My husband gently adjusted the fruit back into its cardboard home and started to pick up the popcorn, trying to make a joke. “I ask my teenager to close up the popcorn and this is what he does. Hahaha!”
The sales clerk smiles tentatively and begins picking up each popcorn kernel one by one, as if she was tempted to taste one, but instead collects them and throws them out. She is disturbed by the popcorn, which re-pops out of the bag everytime she shifts it on the counter. This is when the laughter kicks in and it’s fabulous. Giggles erupt from me and I can’t contain them and decide to walk away, laughing louder as I get further away. I turn around to see my husband maintains a serious, yet friendly disposition.
Marriage gifts us the opportunity to show our love in different ways in many otherwise mundane moments in life. It’s a cup of coffee when I didn’t ask for one; it’s getting up early with the kids and the cats and shutting the door so you can sleep late in peace, and sometimes it’s returning rotten fruit and stale snacks to Costco.