Mary and I had been newlyweds for about six months when I made my rookie marriage mistake. I think everyone has one. You know, the thing you might have done or said to your new spouse that almost ends the marriage right off the bat.
Mine was bad. Real bad. So bad that I shouldn't repeat it. But I will even though it made Mary really mad and took a long time for our marriage to recover from it. The fact is I always thought it was funny. Mary won't admit it but I think that looking back on it now, she'd even admit it was hysterical. Okay, maybe not so much "hysterical", as much as "now that you've started, you've got to tell the whole story".
One night about six months into our marriage Mary and I went out for drinks with our good friend Brian. One of his good friends was in town visiting. Her name was Rita. We'd heard of Rita before, but had not met her yet. They weren't dating, but were still very good friends. The whole platonic thing going on, etc... Brian also invited a guy he worked with and his fiancee. I think his name was Derek - but I don't remember. There are some things about that night I've blocked out.
We met up with Brian, Rita and the other couple at the Beaumont Club in Kansas City. Now, this isn't the type of place I would normally go to, but Brian likes country music as does Mary so I had no say in the matter. It's a big club with dance floor in the center and tables and chairs set up around the perimeter. On the south end of the dance floor there used to be a electric bull pit. I haven't been back there since the incident so I don't know if it is still there. There was no bull riding this particular night. Instead we sat on bar stools around a high top table off to the side of the dance floor so we could chat, listen to music and watch the cowboys and cowgirls from Overland Park get their giddy-up on with some line dancing.
We'd had a beer or two when the subject turned to marriage. It is inevitable that you will talk about being newlyweds, your wedding ceremony or anything remotely matrimonial related when you are: 1. Newly married 2. In the company of an engaged couple or 3. Looking for something to talk about when you have met a new couple and you don't know anything about them except that they know your friend - and did I mention that you are newly married?
As it happens we met all three components that night and so of course began talking wedding stuff.
When Mary was in medical school she had a classmate who, while being very smart, really very nice and a good friend was also a bit of a male chauvinist. He was married (still is actually) to a woman who Mary would describe as "you know, that girl who was the cheerleader in college? The gorgeous girl with natural, long, bleach blonde hair, a great body and super sweet... basically every guys dream and every other woman's nightmare". To top it off she waited on her husband hand and foot. They had a 1950's marriage arrangement, but she also worked outside the home as a dental hygenist. He was studying to be an Orthopedic surgeon.
So Mary begins to tell Brian, Rita and the engaged couple about what this guy said to his fiancee before they got married. The med school classmates were out drinking one night when he shared a conversation that he had with his fiancee. He was complaining about how once girls get married they all "cut their hair and get fat". He told his wife that he didn't want her to do that. He expected her to stay the same and never change.
Mary was stunned and more than a little bothered at this comment. What a thing to say to your fiancee! Mary continued "So of course I am appalled that this guy, who is really a very good friend is such a chauvinist pig. He was unbelievable. I cannot believe that he was such a Neanderthal." It really made her mad. But then she added with a giggle "so what do you think I did while I was on my honeymoon? I got my haircut!"
I should have kept quite. But I couldn't. I should have kept my mouth shut, but after Mary finished I immediately jumped in and said... are you ready?
"And then she got fat!"
I was kidding of course. I thought it would be funny to add "and then she got fat!" because that was the second thing that Mary's classmate had warned his fiancee against doing. I let out a laugh. That was a good one. The timing was perfect. I didn't miss a beat with my delivery. I killed!
But no one else was laughing. Mary shot me an icy stare. Brian looked at me as if to say "Oh no you didn't just say that, did you really???" and the engaged couple just looked at Mary in stunned silence. Rita took a drink.
It continued to sink in with Mary how mad she was. The longer I looked at her and said "C'mon! That was a joke. It was meant to be funny!" the angrier she got. And the angrier she got the more shocked the engaged couple became. The more shocked the engaged couple became the more Brian tried to diffuse the situation, which in turn made Mary angrier because she was now the focal point that we were trying to shift away from, which made the engaged couple more uncomfortable. All of which just made me start laughing even harder!
I've said it before... I'm an idiot. But this was pure hilarity to me because Mary is not fat and never got fat. She only cut her hair and it was a really cute haircut at that! After a few minutes it calmed down and everyone agreed that I was an idiot with no sense of boundaries. Mary needed a break from my presence, so she excused herself to go to the ladies room. It was a wise maneuver. When she came back she was much calmer, even managing to brush it off with a chuckle and said with a sneer/smirk in my direction "I married an idiot."
And then it got even worse.
For some reason the country bar/dance hall had a strolling balloon artist on hand. Why? I have no idea, but it nearly contributed to me getting served divorce papers. This "artist" came by our table and asked if anyone of the guys would like to buy a nice balloon animal for one of the ladies. Derek said "sure" and the balloon guy made a cute little poodle for his fiancee. Rita didn't want a balloon animal so Brian asked him to make a cute balloon flower for her. And then it was my turn.
All I said was "can you make her a hat?" I thought a cute little bonnet might put a smile on Mary's face. She of course looked over at me as if to say "what are you doing? A hat? Oh, you are gonna get it!" She was shooting me cold daggers again from her eyes. The thought of it now still give me shivers.
At that request and maybe feeding off of the reaction Mary was giving me, the balloon artist put away the balloons he had been working with and pulled out some other balloons from a secret stash in his coat pocket. These were much longer and much bigger than the other balloons. As he built it the group got quiet. Mary started looking angry again, which made the engaged couple nervous, which made Brian try to diffuse the situation, which made Rita take a drink and of course made me start to laugh. And then he put it on her head and I burst out into tears because I was laughing so hard at the site of Mary and her new hat!
It was a six foot tall, red and pink phallic symbol. And Mary was now wearing it as a hat!
I promise I had no idea that this was the type of hat she was going to get. All I said was "can you make her a hat". Mary was so angry with me. "So Derek gets his fiancee a nice balloon poodle, Rita gets a flower and I get a six foot penis hat? You are a dead man!"
I don't remember much else of the rest of the evening. It was pretty much a mess after the hat incident. I think I slept on the couch that night.
Thankfully we made it through my rookie mistake, the first year of marriage and even the seven year itch. Poor Mary, it looks like she is stuck with her idiot for good.