Friday, February 14, 2014

It's the Little Things

I recently came across this Laura Miller quote: The first book we fall in love with shapes us every bit as much as the first person we fall in love with.   I really don’t remember the first book I fell in love with but my favourite childhood book was “Go, Dog. Go!” 

For the uninitiated, it's a "Beginner Book" about a bunch of dogs, meant to teach kids about colours, numbers and opposites.  Several times through the story, a stylish poodle and a beagle-ish dog cross paths.   Each time they meet, the poodle asks the beagle “Do you like my hat?”.  Each time he says he does not.  Each time they part unhappily until their final meeting, when she is wearing a very impractical hat.  It’s more of a basket really, piled with candy canes, a dog bone, fishing rods with objects dangling from it’s hooks... there’s even a potted plant.  

“Now do you like my hat?” she asks.

He replies, “I do, I do, I like that party hat.”  

And they drive off together into the sunset. 

If that book shaped me, did it mean that when I found someone I liked, I’d try to figure out what he liked and become that person?  Even as a child, that part of “Go, Dog. Go!” irked me. So did it mean I would avoid men who only liked me when I behaved as they preferred?  

When my husband and I were set up by a mutual friend in 1984, we had what is arguably our first date at the The Bullring, a pub at the University of Guelph.  

I say "arguably" because when it comes up now, we disagree as to whether it was a date or not. My friend gave me a ride to the pub to meet up with future hubby, and hubby was coming to the pub to meet me - you be the judge.  

For years he also claimed he never proposed to me.

Originally called "The Judging Pavilion", the Bullring is a one story, round-ish  brick building constructed in 1903, used for showing cattle. Currently it's a coffee shop but while I attended University it was a pub that as I recall, played a lot of 80’s Punk and New Wave.  

That night, while my "date" and I danced, my purse was stolen.  Any other night I would have reacted with frustration and fretted about it for the rest of the evening.  On this night, I acted like it was no big thing.  Que sera sera, nothing I can do about it now.  (‘Cause I’m just so laid back and carefree...).  The friend who had brought us together seemed kinda peeved at my attitude.   He had given me his wallet and car keys to store in my hand bag.

My hubby soon discovered that laid back and carefree was not my typical state of being. It’s hard to suppress even minor disfunction for very long, though I don't think I'm the first one to choose to be my best self early in a relationship (I can count on one hand the number of times we've gone dancing since that night).  Over an eighteen month courtship  we made the shocking discovery that neither of us were perfect, yet we married anyway and for nearly 28 years we've managed to ignore or navigate those imperfections without divorce or bloodshed.

“Go, Dog. Go!” remains in my subconscious and I'm surprised to say it does make a regular appearance in our relationship.  Many mornings I stand before the bathroom mirror, bemused by hair that sticks out in all directions.  It's rarely attractive and often ridiculous.  On these mornings I proudly walk into the kitchen where my hubby is eating breakfast and ask,

“Do you like my hat?”

And without fail he always replies,

“I love your hat.”

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