Here comes the rain again

Several days ago I blogged about how I used to draw little cartoons on my wife’s lunch bag. The very day that I posted those pictures, I received a suggestion from numerous people (by which I mean more than zero and fewer than two, all of them named Nick) to create a sort of comic strip in that style. I can’t argue with my adoring public, so here is a completely original paper-bag comic, based on actual events. Click on the image below to see the full strip, and don’t be afraid to scroll to the right. And please keep in mind that I’m neither a professional nor even amateur artist, illustrator, or designer, and my handwriting is horrible.

I mentioned Dr Pepper in yesterday’s post. I come from Texas, where Dr Pepper is the soda (or coke, as we say in Texas) of choice. My bringing attention to the fact that Dr Pepper has no period in the Dr abbreviation prompted this message from Jeff, perhaps the most prominent honorary citizen of the fascinating town of Peachwater, Texas:

The period after Dr was dropped in 1950 to improve legibility on the 6.5 inch bottles of the time.

Unofficial Dr Pepper Page:

Fairly unrelated:
Claim: Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide.

And, in case you’re interested, here’s the official Dr Pepper Web site.

Essential humor

Mrs. Happy and I met some friends Saturday evening to see a movie called Lost in Translation, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. Bill Murray plays Bob, a famous actor whose career is on a downward spiral, though he can still generate a significant income ($2 million for a week’s work) endorsing a Japanese whiskey. While in Japan, he meets Charlotte (Johansson), an American who’s in Japan to be with her photographer husband while he takes pictures of a rock band. Though they are at different stages of life (she’s young and newly married, he has two kids and a raging midlife crisis), they find each other and develop a (completely non-sexual) friendship that comforts them both.

A couple of scenes really stuck out to me. In one, Charlotte asks Bob if marriage gets any easier. I paid special attention to his reply so I could write it down later, but this is probably not verbatim:

That’s hard. We had a lot of fun in the beginning. She would come with me whenever I was shooting a movie, and we would laugh about everything. Later, though, she didn’t want to leave the kids. We don’t spend that much time together any more.

You can read a lot into that, but one thing I see (which is borne out through phone conversations with his wife) is that Bob and his wife have fallen into the trap of taking themselves and each other too seriously. They have lost the ability to laugh with/at each other. That’s death to a marriage.

Last night, Mrs. Happy and I were watching TV (the season premiere of The Practice, if you’re interested) together. During a commercial, we had the following conversation:

her: Do we have any of that Dr Pepper left?
me: I
don’t think so. I’ll check… <walks to the kitchen and opens the refrigerator> No,
it’s all gone.
her: There’s no apple juice either, is there?
me: Nope.
her: So we don’t have anything to drink?
me: <walks back to the living room> There’s
some milk.
her: No there’s not.
me: Yes there is. I bought some today.
her: Oh.
me: It’s two percent, though. (note: Mrs. Happy prefers whole milk for drinking and two percent for cooking.)
her: Okay, I guess I’ll just have that.

I poured her a glass of milk, brought it to her in the living room, and turned the light off to enhance the atmosphere of our The Practice experience. A few seconds later her whole body went into a violent spasm, and she stopped just short of spewing a mouthful of two percent milk all over the living room. She glared at me and said, “I thought you were giving me water!”

Being the sensitive soul that I am, I laughed hysterically. And after she got over the initial shock, she laughed too. It turns out that she had said to me, “Okay, I guess I’ll just have water,” rather than, “Okay, I guess I’ll just have that.”

I’ve known married couples who would find no humor in something like that, who in fact would find nothing but offense and an excuse to fight for days. Mrs. Happy and I don’t take ourselves or each other that seriously. We both laugh when either of us does or says something stupid or weird, issues forth some sort of bodily-function-related noise, cooks pasta with marinade instead of marinara (I did that), or causes a glass dish to spontaneously combust (she did that). We’ve been married nearly five-and-a-half years and we haven’t lost our collective sense of humor. I hope we never do.

Before you e-mail me to tell me I made a punctuation mistake, look at Dr Pepper’s official Web site. There really is no period.

Marriage links for the week

Many weddings are just rituals followed by a dull party. Mine was amazingly, well, happy. It’s good to read about another happy couple and the people who love them.

“…happiness is less a matter of getting what we want than of wanting what we have.” This article comes out of Australia, but what it says is equally true everywhere: Be sure that your goals are worth reaching—money doesn’t make anyone happy.

If you work at it, a marriage can last 50 years, even in the world of professional wrestling: “…they say their marriage has been made stronger by the sacrifices they had to make.”

Four siblings all got married between 1949 and 1953. They’re all still married, meaning that there’s two hundred years of marriage among them. Wow.

Not much going on

I tried writing a post this morning, but found myself woefully uninspired. That happens sometimes, and in those cases I usually write in the evening. But today I’m just foregoing the blog in order to spend time with my wife. If you’re starving for something to read, check out Dean Esmay’s post on how feminists want to change our language. Be sure to read the comments. Also, be aware that Dean has edited his post since I commented on it. The quote “If you see it the same way, you should vote for Al Gore and I,” was originally “You should agree with he and I.”

It’s all about the love, Part 3

I said yesterday that I never said “I love you” to the Mrs. Happy until I proposed to her. I did my best to express that through my actions, but I also came up with sort of a euphemistic phrase. Whenever I felt overcome with affection toward her, I would adopt an adoring expression on my face and say, “I’m really glad I met you.” It may seem silly outside of the context of the time, but she knew what it really meant. It let her know how I felt without the words I had reserved for the woman I would marry. Later, between the proposal and the wedding, she bought my wedding band and had the jeweler engrave “I.R.G.I.M.Y. 5-23-98″ on the inside. This, she said, meant “I’m really glad I married you.”

Last night and early this morning, Mrs. Happy and I put our heads together to think of some other phrases that mean “I love you” without using the words. Here’s what we came up with:

  • “Here, I’ll move closer and you can warm your feet on my legs.”
  • “The Cowboys are playing this afternoon, but I’d rather spend time with you.”
  • “You make that dress look soooo good.”
  • “You look like you could use a back rub.”
  • “You are, without a doubt, the best hugger in the world.”
  • “You just relax and let me take care of the dishes.”
  • “You’re not feeling well? Let me make you some soup.”
  • “Let’s go see a movie. You pick, I’ll pay.”
  • “You can have the last cookie.”
  • “You’ve had a stressful day. Why don’t we go out and get some ice cream?”
  • “There’s no special occasion. I just wanted to give you this <insert sweet gift here>.”
  • “Yes, that’s and expensive outfit. But you’re worth it.”
  • “Happy birthday! I’ve written you a song.”
  • “You’re so cute when you laugh.”
  • “Can I take you out to dinner tonight?”
  • “You’re so beautiful.”
  • “Your chicken pot pie is the best I’ve ever tasted.”

Keep in mind that these only work if they’re based on real feelings and real actions in an established relationship. Saying these things to a stranger can result in glares, slaps, restraining orders, and arrests.

If anyone can think of other things along this line, e-mail them to me (see address at the upper-right corner of this page) and I’ll share them with everyone.

It’s all about the love, Part 2

My first dating relationship happened when I was 15 years old. My girlfriend and I knew each other from high school band, where we had pretty much the same group of friends. We started dating basically because we didn’t hate each other and neither of us had anyone to kiss. I know now that physical contact is probably the worst foundation for a relationship of any kind. I should have known it then, but I was 15, high on hormones, and low on rationality.

We tried to act like what we had was “the real thing,” that we were “meant to be,” that we fully intended to stay together forever, but I doubt that either of us believed it deep down. Still, we played at romance. We tried giving each other silly nicknames (none of which ever stuck for more than two days), we tried to do something special for birthdays and Valentine’s, and every time we spoke to each other we said “I love you.” I don’t pretend to know what was in her mind when she told me she loved me, but I said those words because that’s what boyfriends and girlfriends say to each other. I didn’t understand what it meant, but I somehow knew that I didn’t really mean it. Nevertheless, she said it to me so I echoed it back.

Looking back I think I know why the words rang hollow to me even as I said them. To me, they meant that I had a girlfriend and that she liked me enough to spend time with me. But in truth, they were just words based on nothing, like a piece of notebook paper on which someone has written “This is worth $100.”

I know now that love means more than kissing. Love means a lot of things, but to me what it means most is sacrifice. When I say “I love you” to my wife, I mean that I willingly and regularly give up part of myself to benefit her. I mean that I will continue to do so into the future. I mean that I will make any sacrifice necessary to keep her well and happy. And I mean that I expect nothing in return. Granted, the fact that she loves me as well, that she regularly sacrifices herself for my benefit, makes it easier for me to love her. That’s part of what marriage is—two people taking joy in mutual sacrifice for each other’s sake.

After my high school girlfriend moved to another state, I vowed to myself that I would never again say “I love you” to a woman until I was ready to commit the rest of my life to her. After I met my wife, I gradually fell into a disposition of intense affection toward her. I wanted to say “I love you,” but refrained. Instead, I showed her. I went out of my way to make her life easier, to brighten her day, to make her feel special, to help her in any way she needed and in any way that I could. When I proposed, when I finally said “I love you,” she knew that I meant it and she knew what I meant. And I, for the first time in my life, felt right about saying it to a woman I was not related to.

People want love so much that they end up infecting their computers with a debilitating virus in an effort to get it (see yesterday’s post). They achieve nothing but disillusionment with the idea of love and discard it as irrelevant (a la Ms. Turner’s song). They throw powerful words around without giving them any substance (as does Marie’s admirer). I think a lot of people want to say and hear “I love you” without having any sacrifice involved. I can tell you from experience, that ends only in emptiness and disappointment.

Express love through action first, then words. Trust me, it works a lot better that way.

It’s all about the love

One morning a few years ago I opened my e-mail at work to find about two hundred messages from people I didn’t know, all with the subject line I Love You. I assumed that the messages contained a worm or virus and simply deleted them.

The hackers who wrote the I Love You virus counted on gullible and lonely people to spread their virus. How could anyone resist opening a message in which someone declares their love? I Love You spread quickly around the Internet, clogging networks and making life miserable for businesses and their administrators all over the world.

When I was a teenager, Tina Turner had a hit song called What’s Love Got to Do With It? Some lyrics:

You must understand though the touch of your hand
Makes my pulse react
That it’s only the thrill of boy meeting girl
Opposites attract
It’s physical
Only logical
You must try to ignore that it means more than that

What’s love got to do, got to do with it
What’s love but a second hand emotion
What’s love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken

A little before my time, Randy Newman wrote a pretty controversial song called Marie. Some lyrics from it:

You’re the song that the trees sing when the wind blows
You’re a flower, you’re a river, you’re a rainbow
Sometimes I’m crazy
But I guess you know
And I’m weak and I’m lazy
And I’ve hurt you so
And I don’t listen to a word you say
When you’re in trouble I just turn away

But I loved you the first time I saw you
And I always will love you Marie

The word love confuses a lot of people. What does it mean? What doesn’t it mean? Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary lists nine definitions for love as a noun and four as a verb, plus eight more definitions for phrases containing the word love (love apple, love beads, love child, etc.). When people use this amorphous word to describe their feelings about God, country, and ice cream, it starts to lose its meaning. In fact, the word has no real meaning by itself, as Randy Newman illustrated. The concept, though, has a great deal of meaning, or else millions of people would not have infected their computers in an effort to find it.

I am allergic to autumn in New York and am feeling awful right now. I will post more on this tomorrow, with what I think love really means and how it works in my marriage.

Guest blog: Mrs. Happy

Curt’s been asking me for a couple of weeks to do a “guest blog,” and I’ve been a little apprehensive, first because I’m not really the writer of the Happy family, and second because this whole blog concept is pretty foreign to me, the stubborn and rebellious “luddite” (Curt’s word for what I’m talking about) daughter of a computer programmer.

However, I started to wonder if readers of Curt’s blog might wonder if he’s for real—sometimes I wonder myself because he seems too good to be true. That is, until he purposely startles me senseless or burps openly in front of my parents. I also feel his arms around me every day and see his watering eyes when he realizes
that I’m a person

So he’s definitely real, and I am so proud of him for his hard work on this blog. I must admit, however, that my support of his endeavors was a bit sketchy at first. I’m Mrs. Happy, not Mrs. Perfect. I get annoyed when he spends a lot of time on the computer, and I thought this would take too much out of our time together. Even when he assured me he’d do it early in the morning before we officially get up to get ready for work, I complained that it would hinder our “cuddle time.” Besides, what really is a blog anyway? Who will actually read it? What

But as I’ve been reading it each day, I realize how insightful, humorous, and valuable it really is. The other night, when Mr. Happy went upstairs to check his e-mail, I heard his excited “Woo-Hoo!” and laughter and knew that it was blog-related. I yelled up to him, “How many hits did you get today?” He exclaimed, “Just come here! This is great!”

I found him beaming in front of the computer because another blogger (Chris Noble) had mentioned
Curt’s blog
on his web site. I can’t remember the last time I was so proud of him, and I immediately felt guilty for all of my annoyance and even some fun I had poked at him about his blog. I also realized for about the gazillionth time how much I take my husband for granted and how truly special he is. I was also reminded that a wife should always respect her good husband, no matter how little sense he makes sometimes.

I think he should really consider renaming his blog The Happy Wife.

Marriage links for the week

I had a professor in college who had previously been a marriage counselor. He told us about a couple he once counseled who were going through some very rocky times. Their main issue was that the husband refused to let the wife get a dog, so she wanted a divorce. Of course, that was only the surface issue. It could just as easily have been football.

Happy marriages have more benefits than I can name, and apparently it’s even good for the heart.

Shocking news, this: If you want your marriage to be happy, be neither a tyrant nor a spoiled brat.

Man has yet to improve upon the family structure of a man and woman getting married and raising their own biological children, despite many claims to the contrary.

In good times and bad, a common faith lays the foundation for a strong marriage.

I grew up in Texas, where parents train their sons to be gentlemen and to treat a woman like a lady. I’ve been scolded by non-southern women for opening doors, walking nearer to the street, trying to help with unwieldy coats, and more, but the truth is I’d rather get scolded than act like a clod. (Link via The Noble Pundit.)

Speaking of The Noble Pundit, he had some very flattering things to say about me yesterday, for which I am grateful. My friend Jeff also left a nice comment on the post. I love validation.

Speaking of Jeff, he may have figured out why Internet Explorer can’t figure out how to space the lines here in this center column. It has to do with paragraph tags in the HTML and the way my blogging service deals with line breaks and blank lines. If his idea works, I’ll retract half of the ill will behind my statement that IE is shoddy software. Even so, get Opera (Windows), or Safari (Macintosh).