My great aunt and uncle have been married since they were in high school, back when everyone was appalled that tiny, loud, Mexican Gloria Mendez would marry tall, lanky, quiet, country, white boy Charles Gordon. I think people were mostly appalled by the race thing, but also, the teenagers could not have been more different.
Somehow, after 60 years, they’re still together. She yells at him from all over the house—“Chuck! CHUCK!”—and he either can’t hear or pretends to not be able to hear. She still buys earrings like most people buy milk and he cooks the carne guisada she taught him how to make better than her now.
After I was with my ex for a couple years, they decided to buy a set of $500 Wolfgang Puck pots and pans for our future wedding… I recently convinced them to go ahead and give them to me now. They could never have children, so I guess I’m the closest thing they have. It’s just been the two of them in their house forever—complete with cars they hardly use, a massive parlor that smells like dust, purple carpet, a glittered ceiling, and a retro bar (also never used).
They are quirky to say the least. Very old and very old fashioned. Very annoying at times (they call me every other day and almost every time, ask me if I’ve met any boys). But they really do love each other. They still hold hands and she still gets lipstick on his wrinkly cheek.
I often wonder if they have some sort of secret—some magic recipe that no one seems to be passing on—the ingredients of how to never get divorced. They took me out to dinner last week and this is what was said on the matter:
Aunt Gigi: “People always say, ‘You have such a beautiful marriage!’ and I just say, ‘That’s what YOU think!’ Live while you can, Miss Alysha Mendez. Cause now, I gotta tell this man everything I’m doing all the time. I miss being my own boss of everything!” Purses her lips and looks at Uncle Chuck with disgust but then blows him a kiss.
Uncle Chuck: “There was this woman trying to get me back before we got married. She was ugly as homemade soap, trying to get me in bed! The fun is over once you reach a certain age. Now it’s just pat it and say goodnight!” Cackles and sips his margarita as I cringe.
Aunt Gigi: “If I ever have to put him in a nursing home and some young, blonde nurse is trying to give him a sponge bath, I’m gonna be right there with a bat saying, ‘WHAT DO YOU WANT?!’ You just take your time, honey. Take your time. We’re gonna like anybody you like. But have you met anyone? If you got it, flaunt it! And you got it, baby. If you have an itch, you better scratch it! Buy those short skirts!”
I can’t make this stuff up. I walked away laughing my ass off, like I usually do when I see the two crazy love birds, but gaining no secret, no magic ingredients, no knowledge whatsoever. They held hands, she yelled at him, she wiped lipstick from his cheek, and I dropped them off at their purple carpeted, glittered ceilinged house. Just another day.
Does this kind of thing still exist? How do you not get tired of all the little things? How do you not kill each other? How do you stay in love for over half a century? I feel like it’s almost impossible these days. But I want it, ya know? We all want it. I want that whole someone by your side, skin sagging simultaneously thing. Minds turning to mush so that the only way you can remember anything is by using what little is left in both heads. It might sound depressing, but it’s also quite poetic, right? Someone’s wrinkles to leave lipstick on.