Jessie Raymond: ‘Golf’ weekend was a losing battle
Marriage is not a competition. But if it were, my husband Mark would be winning.
You might get the impression, from reading this column, or perhaps from knowing us personally, that Mark is a taciturn old grouch, while I am sweetness and light pretty much all the time, bestowing upon him laughter, engaging conversation and tasty home-cooked meals.
All of that is true, of course. But when it comes to thoughtfulness, the grouch is way ahead.
I hate him for that.
One summer day three years ago, for instance, he surprised me with a weekend away at a B&B — not because he would ever willingly stay at one, but because he knew it would make me happy.
What followed was two days devoted to anything I wanted — the sights I wanted to see, the restaurants I wanted to try, the activities that appealed to me.
He’s always doing sneaky things like that. It makes me look selfish in comparison.
That weekend put him way ahead in the ongoing thoughtfulness battle, and I’ve spent ages trying to one-up him (I mean, reciprocate his kindness). I thought this past weekend would raise my standings.
Mark, a contractor, works hard year round, but especially in the summer, when his weekends cease to exist. I decided I would sweep him away for a much-needed break, just like he had done for me.
What’s more, I would make this weekend all about him. And that meant golf. Lots of golf.
I’m not a golfer. Mark, however, is becoming one, often heading out to the links right after work. What better way to out-thoughtful him, I figured, than to spend two days joining him in an activity that I find time-consuming and frustrating. I would be bored and miserable all weekend, just for him. Because that was the thoughtful thing to do.
I booked us a stay at an Airbnb in Waterbury and we headed over Friday afternoon, just before the rain started. It continued nonstop until Sunday afternoon, letting up shortly after we returned home.
We did not play a single hole.
Mostly we did nothing but stare out at the rain, sighing. Mark sat without speaking, no doubt wishing he were back in Middlebury, catching up on work.
But I kept trying. On Saturday afternoon, I even drove him up to Williston to an indoor virtual golf range.
Which was closed.
Then, to liven things up, my muffler broke in half at a Taft Corners stoplight, deafening us inside the car and causing pedestrians to flee in all directions.
Rather than whiling away the day teeing off and taking mulligans, we spent the rainy afternoon at the only open service center in Chittenden County.
While the mechanic put the car on the lift, we sat in the waiting room, where three young children passed the time by running laps around our chairs and seeing who could achieve the highest-decibel shriek. Mark stared at the ceiling, not once pointing out how little this resembled the weekend in paradise he had shown me.
An hour and a half later we learned that the entire muffler would need to be replaced, but the parts were not in stock. We drove back to Waterbury, silent (unlike the car, which emitted sound waves that flattened trees along I-89).
We returned home Sunday.
Mark didn’t mention what a failure the mini-vacation had been, though I knew, in his mind, he was putting a hash mark under his name and a big fat goose egg under mine.
Yes, I had dragged him away on an unpleasant trip that he hadn’t wanted to take in the first place. But he had some nerve being gracious about it.
The jerk was winning again.
I needed him to utter just one smart crack, anything to reveal his lack of gratitude and knock him from his saintly, patiently suffering pedestal. But by Sunday night, as we lay in bed in our customary going-to-sleep spoon formation, I prepared to admit defeat.
I was about to apologize for the whole fiasco when Mark squeezed me and kissed my ear.
“Thank you for my ‘golf’ weekend,” he said, suppressing a snicker.
As soon as I heard the audible quotation marks around “golf,” I knew I had won. But I elbowed him hard in the ribs anyway, for good measure.
As the sage Pat Benatar once said, love is a battlefield.
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