Seventeenth Anniversary

Saturday is my 17th wedding anniversary. It is predicted to be a beautiful day, just like it was on the day we were married. I actually drove by the church in which we married today, upon leaving a patient’s home, and it made me a touch nostalgic.

Seventeen years is a long time. Our marriage could drive in New Jersey. I looked up the traditional gift for the seventeenth wedding anniversary and it is furniture.

Furniture. That’s perfect.

I think when “they” chose the traditional gifts, even “they” knew that marriage year 17 was so lackluster that a new kitchen table, or La-Z-boy, was the only thing that could make anyone give a crap at all.  And that is best case scenario.

Gentle reader, I am not going to lie to you. No one is going to make an animated fairy tale movie about our marriage from this past year. Without getting too personal or uncomfortable, dull intermixed with crap is probably the best description of this most recent rotation around the sun.

To be clear, the love isn’t gone. Not at all. In fact, if it were, the story might take new twists and turns for greater reader interest. But. To be clear, the love isn’t gone.

Seventeen years of battling the underside of vows can take a toll. The sickness. The poorer. The worse. For all the days of our life. We’ve had multiple blessings, to be sure. Ryan and Sean being the brightest among them and it would be inaccurate to deny our gratitude.

However, with the imminent arrival of our wedding anniversary on the calendar, one can’t help but to take an inventory. And if one is honest, one isn’t always wholly satisfied with the picture, as unrealistic as it might have been.

With recognition that no piece of furniture is going to be part of our anniversary celebration, Kevin and I have talked extensively about our plans for September 30. Atlanta is a hot town with a super cool night life that we were ready to take on.

Except, I’m trying to lose weight. And one glass of wine will make me want to go to bed and not in the good way. Aoli oil, infused in the sexiest of dishes, upsets my stomach quickly and Ryan and Sean have sunday school early the next morning.

Year 17 does deserve furniture. A bed or an elevated toilet seat.

Tonight, Kevin and I came home from work - exhausted- to the boys - exhausted- and no dinner was to be found or made from what existed in the fridge. We needed to go out or order in. Ryan, feebly, suggested Tokyo Boat and we all agreed.

Tokyo Boat, for my non local friends, is a hibachi, Benihana, kind of restaurant. Yes it is a little expensive and yes my clothes smell like the food when we leave, but I can count on Tokyo Boat for filling my sons with a good week’s worth of calories, as they love the food so much.

So tonight, my tired, uninspired, screen fixated family headed out to the the Tokyo Boat for an impromptu mid week dinner out..

And I got something so much better than furniture.

After a few (ok, a lot) of “put your phone down”s, our hibachi chef arrived to prepare our fried rice feast. The typical antics of fire, utensil juggling, and food tossing ensued… and my family engaged. We were the only four in the restaurant and the hibachi chef didn’t hold back from the full routine.

The combination of meal preparation fun and good stick to the ribs food changed the family mood entirely. We were talking, and laughing, and planning, and more talking.

It isn’t that we NEVER talk and laugh at dinner, but it isn’t always easy to come by. The transformation beside this hibachi grill on this night was so great it did make me smile.

It made me smile for this reason: Kevin and I had been trying to plan a special anniversary celebration to affirm for each other that we’ve “endured” a worthy 17 years and produced a beautiful product. I, at least, wanted to think that dressing up on Saturday night would bring back those "I absolutely have no doubt about these vows" feelings and that I wouldn’t be sad to find an ottoman with a bow on it when we got home.

The 17 year you should get furniture people have it all wrong. The longer I stay married the less I think I know, but tonight I am sure I know this: for friends and family celebrating an anniversary in the mid late teens, I suggest you wish them a "Tokyo Boat, catch food in your mouth, fill your belly with rice, remember why you love your family" impromptu mid week outing. It may be small but I promise you it is mighty.

It is the best thing you could wish for them, because I am here to tell you that it is a wish/ gift that keeps the light on. Watching your kid catch a shrimp in his mouth at Tokyo Boat and forgetting about the school standardized testing is the better to the worse, the richer to the poorer and the health to the sickness.

No, it isn’t sexy. It isn’t even furniture. But enough Tokyo Boats packed together may absolutely be the string from 17 to 18, and that is the biggest gift of all.


In the last two months, I have attended two weddings. This is two more than I’ve attended in the last five years. These two were a cousin of mine and a work friend of Kevin’s. Both were beautiful and I loved them.


Weddings are magical events by which I have always been hypnotized. The lover in me is transfixed with the beauty of the day, the power of the vows and the magnitude of the commitment.

The weddings I have recently attended have featured beautiful, young, physically fit brides. Their grooms were equally handsome, buff, and clearly in love.  So awesome to see. And I swear I’m not a creep, but I must admit to finding myself thinking about their underwear.

I wasn’t close enough to either of these bridal parties to be present for the dressing. So my beliefs are purely speculation. These young couples, beautiful and passionate, were likely wearing seductive, flattering, sexy underwear. Go for it. Enjoy your youth. Enjoy each other.

One of the magical milestones of marriage is when the underwear starts to change. Cotton steps up and lace takes a backseat. The honeymoon, as they say, is over.

Delivering a baby or dealing with some of the struggles leading up to that, will introduce a young couple to the shocking next step in underwear. This is the one size fits all fishnet ass hugger.  Let me explain.  If you have had any vaginal event, your lady parts will be covered by a fish net mesh,  bulging out, much like you will see if you offshore fishermen lifting their bountiful catch up from the sea. The bounty is your flesh and your spouse will show his love by walking you to the bathroom while your ass pockets out of these pants- and maybe your hemorrhoids.  Husbands might ask about the crotch of these “shorts”, given the necessity of wearing them.  Well, gents, there is a feminine napkin in place. In my head, a feminine napkin conjures up an image of something cloth, trimmed with lace, with which one would dab the corners of her mouth after sipping tea from a cup and saucer. This feminine napkin will come to look like a surfboard that transported a shark attack victim back to the beach.

Like all challenges, this phase passes. After all the babies are out, it is his turn. When Kevin got his vasectomy, he shamefully walked out of the doctor’s office, boxers in hand, saying, “ I didn’t read the pre op instructions. I totally have the wrong underwear.” I can’t be entirely sure, but I believe at that moment he was commando.  $35 dollars at Kohl's later and with images I’ll never be able to burn from my brain, he got the right underwear.

Life at that point goes to underwear truth or dare.  My advice to these beautiful newly married: put a message board on the hamper. Children make life beautifully busy and laundry becomes a somewhat mindless task.  Notes like, “Sorry, baby, I trusted a fart” or, “went out with the guys and had a platter of jalapeno poppers” would be an affirmative nod of respect to the laundry doer reaching into the hamper blindly. And you might want to help her lift that laundry basket because if she sneezes or laughs, there’ll be another unfortunate submission.

Underwear, like marital vows, will continuously be tested. Waistbands will get frayed just like nerves. There will be holes that at times will be left unattended until they get so big they cannot be ignored.

So why do I really care about underwear? I will tell you that I have discovered the underwear of undying love and ultimate romantic devotion.


Let me introduce you to Ellie and Murray. Murray has advanced dementia and lives in a memory care unit of an assisted living facility.  Murray is ambulatory with assistance, incontinent and has a pervasive flat affect.

Until Ellie shows up. Ellie is just as old as Murray and has a Parkinsonian tremor that makes her speak like Kathryn Hepburn.  Ellie comes to see Murray every day. She pulls into the parking lot of his assisted living facility in her massive Lincoln Town Car and is lucky to find a spot. Ellie greets every staff member as she comes in and inquires genuinely about the events in their lives.  Ellie always has fresh clothes for Murray and a fresh package of Depends. When Ellie finally reaches Murray, he doesn’t acknowledge her. But she sits with him- to feed him.  And when it is time to change his “underwear”, she is there. And when that is done… when Murray is clean… Ellie shows her heart. Ellie reveals the small Baby Ruth candy bar she has had in her pocket. And the listless Murray takes it, and smiles. He looks at Ellie and smiles.

That smile is what keeps Ellie coming back. The Baby Ruth is her ace and she plays it masterfully.

And as I watch Murray’s smile at Ellie and I think of the lovely weddings I’ve attended, I understand the the relationship between sexy underwear and marital devotion is inversely proportional. The less sexy the garment, the more intense is the commitment. And that, I believe,  is lovely.