(DuQuoin, Illinois circa 1984)
Melissa and I married young. She was nineteen going on thirty-seven and I was twenty going on twelve and a half. Despite our despairing maturity levels, Melissa had learned little about some of the basics of living. We were married almost a year before I discovered she threw our bank statements and cancelled checks away with the junk mail. Thinking back, it is clear we failed to negotiate responsibilities around the house. I used my parent’s (Leave it to Beaver) arrangement as a default but since she grew up in a single household, she had no template at all. We both had a few holes.
I had a teaching job interview coming up and had picked out my favorite outfit to wear. Dress to impress. It was a button-down light blue shirt and a pair of Levi’s Dockers. For some odd reason, I assumed she knew how to do the laundry and the ironing; since my mom was particularly skilled in this area, I had high expectations. No one had ever taught Melissa to iron, but to her credit, she did the best she could and when my favorite brownish-tan khakis were laid out for me to wear, there were two crisp creases, both on the left leg. This would be a sensitive situation for even a mature person but that had little to do with me. Thinking I was hilarious with my quick wit, I quipped “Melissa, most people only wear one crease per leg.”
I don’t remember her response at all but what I can tell you is we celebrated our thirtieth-sixth wedding anniversary this year and she has never again ironed a single thing for me in those three and a half decades. On the one or two occasions I have asked her to do so, she responds, “No one likes to do nice things for complainers.”
It doesn’t seem so hilarious now.
Hasn’t for thirty-six years…
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois