Issue 57

Marital Aids


                Every relationship has it’s ups and downs.  For parents, the years graced with small children are definitely up: up every night soothing out a nightmare, up checking if the little one has decided to climb on top of the piano again, up picking up mess after mess.  I sometimes wonder how we’re able to keep getting up all the time when we never have the chance to actually sit down.

                “You and Rebecca need some time together,” my friend Amy advised me the other day.  “Maybe a little spice and variety, a refreshing taste of the simple pleasures you used to have the energy for.”  Her voice lowered to a more confidential level.  “Have you considered trying marital aids?  They say there’s nothing quite able to revive a relationship on the verge of exhaustion like a new electric toy.”

                Her words didn’t quite sink in until two nights later as Rebecca and I lay recovering on the couch after a two-hour struggle to get an overly tired Skylar down for the night.  A beautiful Chopin concerto caressed our ears as we caught our breath.  And then the CD finished.  Silence.

                “Why don’t you pick the next CD?” suggested Rebecca, obviously not wanting to move.

                “I liked this last one,” I said.

                “Don’t just hit play again,” she said.  “Pick something new.”

                So began the half-hour debate over which one of us was going to get up and change the CD.  I like the soothing voice of Olivia Newton John and she wanted to be energized by the Latin rhythms of Perez Prado.  Thus ended the evening, hot words spoken (“But that music is so 70’s!) and feelings hurt.

                Every relationship has its petty fights and squabbles.  Some couples argue over whether to put glasses in the cabinet rim up or rim down.  Others go ballistic about the tube of toothpaste squeezed in the middle.  The sad part is these knock-down fights are always over simple things that could be easily solved by buying toothpaste that comes in a pump and doesn’t need to be squeezed.

                “Maybe we do need a new electric toy,” I mumbled as we both stewed angrily in bed.

                “Maybe we do,” Rebecca said, turning her back to me.


                The next day, Rebecca met me excitedly at the front door when I got home from work. “I have a surprise,” she said.  I smiled.  She must have gone out and got that marital aid we needed so badly.  And then I saw the wrapped box, which was far too large to match any electric toy I could muster in my imagination.

                I opened the box to reveal a CD player that holds 300 discs.

                 “We’ll never have to pick a CD again,” Rebecca said deliciously.  “It even comes with a keyboard input so we can type in all the titles.”

                Setting aside everything else that had to be done that night, Rebecca and I broke out all of our CDs.  An hour went into sorting them into play groups like Jazz and Classic Rock.  Jazz is her specialty, so I proposed breaking Jazz into two groups – jazz I like and jazz I can’t stand.

                “The player only gives us eight groups,” she said.  “Anyway, I’ll have to listen to your ABBA.”

                And new problems arose:

                “You’ve got six Violent Femmes and four Tracy Chapmans to my two Asias and one Chicago,” I protested.  “That means your music will play more often in shuffle mode.”

                “Be fair.  Having to listen to your Celine Dion is worth any ten of my CDs.”

                Some problems were technical in nature:

                “How do I fit ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Prince’ into 13 letters?”

                And then there were the two trash bags of jewel cases we didn’t need anymore.  Or the fact that perhaps we should have bought the 400-CD player.

                Last night, our home was filled with beautiful music.  We sat in bed with the remote to our new marital aid, jumping from song to song: Opera followed by Country followed by Musical followed by Modern Rock.  I never realized that we had so much music.  Nor had I realized that I had listened to so little of it.  I’ll still get the occasional ABBA moment but I’ve also discovered that I really enjoy some of my wife’s favorites, like the Zen Cowboys or Squirrel Nut Zippers.

                And really, a taste of acid jazz isn’t all that bad when it’s buffered by Elvis and Sarah McLaughlin.


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