The winning hand

THIS MORNING WAS cold, so I stayed beneath the goose-down comforter even though I was awake, and it was almost 7 a.m., time to begin the day.

My child bride had not said a word, usually an indicator that she’s asleep because if she’s awake, she’s talking. No matter. I reached over and held her hand.

She has sleek, soft, beautiful hands. It’s one of her finest features, and she has lots of lovely features. Her skin is like silk. I made a mental comparison right then and there between the hand I was holding and the hand of my previous wife.

55438_hand_lgThough, oddly, I do not recall the first time I held my child bride’s hand, I do remember the first time I held the hand of my last wife, the second ex, over 40 years ago. We were walking down Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans.

It’s a big step the first time you hold the hand of a person you’re “seeing.” I remember thinking that faraway afternoon on Esplanade Avenue that her hand was a bit pudgy, which was unusual because she was not pudgy at all. Quite the contrary.

It was not unpleasant, but it was slightly pudgy. I’m guessing it’s a European genetic carryover she brings from St. Louis, Missouri, and, even further back, rural ancestors in Alsace-Lorraine. She was a pretty woman, and she had a spectacular butt, which is likely what caught my attention in the first place.

Men are like that.

But my child bride wins, hands down, in the hands department. She also has beautiful legs. I always wanted to be married to a woman with gorgeous gams, and now I am, even though she’s 59 years old. Legs are the last thing to go, she’s told me.

She has slightly Oriental eyes too, which is not rare in Mexico. Probably has to do with those long-ago Chinamen who crossed the Bering Strait, heading south to better beaches.

But I could not see her slanty eyes this morning in the chill, near-dawn darkness under the goose-down comforter. I could only feel that hand, sleek and smooth.

It was so nice.

Is marriage hard work?

A FRIEND RECENTLY wrote that marriage is hard work. He has only been married once, and still is. I have been married three times, which gives me a better, I think, perspective on this matter.

Is marriage really hard work?

It’s not necessarily hard work, but it surely can be, depending on who you are and to whom you’re married. Your age has lots to do with it, especially the age you were when you tied the knot. Marriage is easier when you start late. That’s not always the case, but it is most of the time, I believe.

Let’s look at my three marriages and the level of work they entailed.

Number One was a self-inflicted shotgun marriage. That means we got married because “we” were pregnant. I say the shotgun marriage was self-inflicted because getting married was my idea, not that of my child’s mother.

She was prepared to go down another route.

I could have left the shotgun in the closet and gone about my business, as many would have done. I didn’t. Not sure why. But it led into a difficult marriage, one that was hard work indeed. I worked at it five years.

Then I hightailed it and began a six-year vacation.

Number Two. I’m not sure whether this was hard work or not because I was into the sauce by this time. I was stone sober at work, often not when off work. Wife Number Two eventually decided it was hard work, at least for her, because she called it quits after about 19 years. Maybe it wasn’t hard work for her at first.

I was cast out into yet another six-year vacation.

Number Three. Here’s where other factors kick in, mainly cultural differences, ones that make matrimony much less work, at least for men. The stereotype of fiery, in-your-face, Latina women aside, the reality is that Latinas are far more accommodating than Gringa gals.

Militant feminism, which has resulted in many American women ending up alone,* is not a significant force in Latino Land. Latinas do not subscribe to the phrase, incorrectly attributed to Gloria Steinem, that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.**

In Latino culture, marriage can be hard work for women, but it’s rarely so for us guys. For us, it’s usually a cake walk, so much so that we can have one family on one side of town and another on the other side. Literally.

Since one wife at a time is enough for me, and I do not think my child bride considers our matrimony to be hard work, I declare my current situation to be a stroll in the park. It’s not hard work at all.

So, is marriage hard work? It can be. It’s far less likely to be hard work if you move out of the United States in a southerly direction. For men, at least.

* * * *

* My second ex-wife is an example of this. A child of the ’60s, she has dumped two bicycles husbands. I was the second.

** An Australian woman, Irina Dunn, said it.

Sixteen years of Mexican matrimony

TODAY IS MY ANNIVERSARY, 16 years of wedded bliss.

I’ve been married three times, which has been interesting. The first lasted just five years but resulted in my only children. There were two. A girl who’s now almost 52, and a boy who died in the hospital after three days.

I then got a vasectomy. I was just 24.

My daughter is named Celeste, and my son was named Ian Lee.

The first was a self-imposed shotgun marriage. The second, which lasted 10 years though we lived together 19 years, was done for practical matters, health insurance mostly. The moral of this is don’t point a shotgun at yourself, and don’t marry for practical matters. Do it for the traditional reasons.

Do it for love and romance.

This last marriage, the ceremony, took place in the interior patio of my sister-in-law’s coffee shop on the main plaza. A judge presided. I had no idea how civil marriages were done in Mexico, so it was all a surprise to me.

You stand there with your witnesses, and the judge goes through the words. You don’t say, I do. You say, I accept, but in Spanish, of course.

wedding

Here we are waiting for the judge to show up. She was late. That’s me on the left, of course, my child bride, her sister who seethed with envy the entire evening (note face) and her husband, a man who later shot himself to death by mishap in a “cry for help” after his wife tossed him out in the street.

Mexico is full of endless drama.

We had a great time. About 30 people showed up, and we danced in the patio after the rather dry ceremony with the judge. This fellow provided the music.

This video was not shot during the wedding, but that’s the guy.

Having been married three times, twice to Gringas and once to a Mexicana, I cannot avoid making comparisons. Since the nations’ cultures are drastically different, so are the women. I recommend the latter over the former.

There is no comparison.

While I rather fell into the first two marriages, I was quite deliberate with this one. I even got down on my knee to propose, and I did it between two pyramids built centuries ago by the indigenous folks of our area.

pyramids

These are the actual pyramids. Women like it when you make a splash.

Whether it was the pyramids, the singer known as El Potro, the magic of the judge or some other unknown factor, this marriage has been a keeper.

Best move of my life.

The Prussian and the hippie

HAVING HAD three wives means that my life on occasion has been visited by the ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.

I’ve never decided if I should be envious of people who get married young, and stay hitched to the same person till they die. I appreciate that there’s a long-term solidarity, but they’ve missed the fun times of shrieking terror that multiple spouses occasion.

ox
Till death — or the farmer — do us part.

Hitching two people together long-term usually is a challenge because folks can be quite different. I’ve read that two-ox teams pull badly till they become accustomed to one another and learn the other’s personality. Sometimes the oxen never get in lockstep, and must be paired with other, more amenable oxen.

Are humans and oxen really all that different?

My first wife was quite messy, which was not surprising considering the chaotic home in which she was spawned. That one aspect was a challenge for me. We only lasted five years, but her messiness had nothing to do with my departure.

prussianLet me inject here that a Prussian drill sergeant and I share many traits. You can see how this could provide problems in a matrimony.

My second wife was fairly well-organized, so that was not an issue, which explains, in part, why we were together almost two decades. We likely would still be together if she hadn’t become smitten with an illegal-alien yard boy half her age.

I think my Prussian-ness was a major factor. How much further is it possible to stray from a Prussian drill sergeant than into the arms of Mexican yard boy?

Wife #3, my child bride, lacks my Prussian personality, but it’s not been a problem because I am older, wiser, softer. When we first met, I asked what her worst traits were, and she said disorganization and distraction.

She was not lying.

hippieShe’s something of a hippie in spite of being politically conservative. I watch her life swerve this way and that, and I marvel, usually with my mouth shut.

I think the path to a successful marriage often is no more complicated than keeping your mouth shut.