April 6, 2007


Driving Responsibly.

Originally uploaded by macwarriorny.

I was chatting with a group of my peers on campus the other day when Jennifer, a very outgoing, very likeable young woman asked me a simple question: “Why do you refer to your spouse as your partner instead of your husband? I mean, you wear the wedding rings and all…”

You know, that’s a good question and I told her so. Earl and I know several gay couples that have become legally hitched, however not in New York State because The Empire State isn’t doing that sort of thing yet (though I feel that we’re thisclose to having gay unions legalized). I admire the way our friends Sean and Jeffrey got married – they left the state and country to get hitched in various flavors. I find this to be delightfully interesting.

Anyway, back to Jennifer’s question. Earl and I have always referred to each other as “partners”. Once in a great while I might refer to him as my husbear or husband (it’s very rare and usually when I’m drunk and being hit on in a gay bar, where I point in his direction and say “that’s my huzzzzband” over there in a weird drawl.) We find the term “partner” best describes our relationship, because when we exchanged our vows and rings at our commitment ceremony almost 11 years ago, we took two halves and assembled them into one unionized piece. We are partners in life. When one of us is struggling, we both tow the line; when one of us hurts, the other hurts as well; when one of us is giddy, we both get silly.

Earl and I are not legally wed or unionized. Once same sex marriage/civil unions are ‘allowed’ in New York, we’ll be having one big party, asking our friends and family to join us as we become a legal couple. Will we change what we call each other? No. Will one of us change our last name? Likely. But the partnership started a long time ago.

And that’s what we are. Partners.

The Spice Rack.

Earl and I were suppose to leave to visit his family outside of Philadelphia this morning. Our plan was to head down there until Saturday night, where we would then come home and enjoy our traditional Easter picnic near our home. We use our picnic to officially bring our winter hibernation to a close.

Yesterday morning Earl decided that he needed to work this weekend, so we rearranged our schedules so that we would be in Philly at a later date and he would work on Friday and perhaps a little bit on Saturday.

Imagine my surprise when I turned around in our family room around 11:00 this morning and found him standing there. Luckily for me, he caught me actually cleaning the house, complete with Swiffer accessories and a running vacuum cleaner in hand. This earns me valuable points for a future date.

After finishing the cleaning bit, I told him I had intended on going to the market this afternoon and do some needed food shopping. He offered to take us out to lunch, which I wholeheartedly enjoyed. We then hit Hannafords.

Before I became a full-time student, Earl was the chief cook of our household. The kitchen was his domain, so I kept my mouth shut and helped out by cleaning up behind him, fetching things when asked and occasionally bursting out with a “Cook’s not a ‘tall ‘appy” for comedic purposes. I also accompanied him on the trips to the grocery store, dutifully pushing the cart, helping him select various vegetables and riding the cart like a bucking bronco across the parking lot to the Jeep.

This all changed when I became a full-time student. I took over the cooking duties and therefore I went to the market, solo.

Today he joined me.

I am happy to say that while there was no reprise of the “Great Chip Encounter of 1999″*, we have decidedly opposite ways of grocery shopping. He believes that stores are built backward and produce should be browsed last, as it goes on the top of the cart, I prefer to follow the store somewhat in the order in which it was designed. There were no hostilities exchanged between us, not even close, but there was a bit of tension as I picked up my fresh green beans before strolling by the canned goods and naked chickens.

This slight bit of tension carried through to a little home improvement project I had planned for this afternoon. My father built us a beautiful spice rack for the kitchen as a Christmas gift, and with this being spring and all, I thought we should hang it up. I had a planned all worked out on how to achieve this feat, and like most home improvement projects in our household, Earl did as well. And the two didn’t match.

Now we’re both order givers, not order takers. We both know how to do it and as usual we have two different ways to get to a common goal. In our first house, when it was apparent there was work to do to spruce it up, it was easier just to sell it and buy something newer.

The spice rack needed to be leveled. As I’m yelling “up, up!”, he’s yelling “down, down!”. Of course, I’m talking about one side, he’s talking about the other. While the lingering grocery tension increased a bit and the volume level increased while we were working on this task, I am proud to say that no blue words were bounced, no fingers were flipped and no hammers flew.

And the spice rack now hangs proudly in our kitchen.

The Great Chip Encounter of 1999 is not spoken of in our household, except in the acknowledgement that it happened and shall not happen again.