Of course, no china--however intricate and inviting--was as seductive as my fiancé, my future husband, who continued to eat me alive with one glance from his icy-blue eyes. Who greeted me not at the door of his house when I arrived almost every night of the week, but at my car. Who welcomed me not with a pat on the arm or even a hug but with an all-enveloping, all-encompassing embrace. Whose good-night kisses began the moment I arrived, not hours later when it was time to go home.
We were already playing house, what with my almost daily trips to the ranch and our five o’clock suppers and our lazy movie nights on his thirty-year-old leather couch, the same one his parents had bought when they were a newly married couple. We’d already watched enough movies together to last a lifetime. Giant with James Dean, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Reservoir Dogs, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, All Quiet on the Western Front, and, more than a handful of times, Gone With the Wind. I was continually surprised by the assortment of movies Marlboro Man loved to watch--his taste was surprisingly eclectic--and I loved discovering more and more about him through the VHS collection in his living room. He actually owned The Philadelphia Story. With Marlboro Man, surprises lurked around every corner.
We were already a married couple--well, except for the whole “sleepover thing” and the fact that we hadn’t actually gotten hitched yet. We stayed in, like any married couple over the age of sixty, and continued to get to know everything about each other completely outside the realm of parties, dates, and gatherings. All of that was way too far away, anyway--a minimum hour-and-a-half drive to the nearest big city--and besides that, Marlboro Man was a fish out of water in a busy, crowded bar. As for me, I’d been there, done that--a thousand and one times. Going out and panting the town red was unnecessary and completely out of context for the kind of life we’d be building together.
This was what we brought each other, I realized. He showed me a slower pace, and permission to be comfortable in the absence of exciting plans on the horizon. I gave him, I realized, something different. Different from the girls he’d dated before--girls who actually knew a thing or two about country life. Different from his mom, who’d also grown up on a ranch. Different from all of his female cousins, who knew how to saddle and ride and who were born with their boots on. As the youngest son in a family of three boys, maybe he looked forward to experiencing life with someone who’d see the country with fresh eyes. Someone who’d appreciate how miraculously countercultural, how strange and set apart it all really is. Someone who couldn’t ride to save her life. Who didn’t know north from south, or east from west.
If that defined his criteria for a life partner, I was definitely the woman for the job.