Saw an interesting magazine article the other day.
"How to Know If He's/She's The One." I was telling a friend about it and she wanted to know what it said. I told her, somewhat facetiously, I didn't know.
"You don't know? You mean you didn't look? Didn't your curiosity get the better of you? How do you know if you've got the right one or not? I can't believe you didn't look! Then at least you could've told me."
It took her a while to wind down. By the time she did, I was convinced I had done not only her but myself a great disservice for not finding out whether or not we had chosen our spouses wisely. But then I did some more thinking about it.
"How long have you and Stanley been married?"
"Forty-one years next November."
"Forty-one years is a very long time," I said. "Have they been happy years?"
"Yes." She paused a moment, obviously sorting back through her memory files. "Except for that waitress in Corner Brook who served him more dessert than she should have." She paused again.
"Oh yes, and there was that door-to-door Bible salesman who sold me a home study in understanding the Bible. We were up to Second Timothy before I decided we had gone too far. Of course, I did have a twinge or two during Leviticus, but it helped me forgive the thing with the waitress. The Bible taught me not only to forgive but not to feel guilty."
That was a little more information than I needed, but I carried on bravely.
"Do you think he was The One when you first got married?"
"Oh yes, and for some time before that - if you catch my drift."
I did. Sometimes I think I would've made a marvelous counsellor in human relations. Probably paid even less than teaching.
Pushing any curiosity I might have about the details of "her drift," not to mention the Bible salesman, to the back of my mind, I tried to get back to my original intention, which was to explain to her why I hadn't read the article on The One.
"So, how do you feel about Stanley now?"
"I'm not sure, to be honest about it. I haven't been sure since that Bible salesman and I were going through the Old Testament."
"How long ago was that?"
"About 10 or 12 years, I think. Time flies, you know." I was tempted to add "when you're having fun," but decided against it.
I know that the thing about time flying is true, especially when you have pleasant memories to hasten it across the years. I think a lot of people get through otherwise boring or even unpleasant marriages that way.
I once wrote a song called, "When the Memories Flow." It didn't win any Junos, but I liked it. Can't remember anything about it now, except the title. I think it had something to do with memories greasing the wheels of time as it sped down the railway of the years. Or something equally silly.
"You mean to say that for at least some of the last decade of your marriage, you're not sure if you married The One at all."
"That's about it," she said. "Sometimes it felt like he was and sometimes it didn't."
"Especially when you remembered your Bible." It was cruel, but I couldn't resist. She did have the grace to blush.
"OK," I went on to say, "suppose you were to answer the questions in that survey and discover that Stanley, whatever he was during the 'drift' (she gave me a puzzled look) is not now The One? That he is, in fact, pretty close to being no one - in marital terms, that is. How would you feel then?"
"I know just how I'd feel," she said with some vigour. "It's exactly how I felt when I found out about that waitress in Corner Brook, except he came close to being a dead no one then. Hard to understand how you can miss with a 12-gauge shotgun at 10 feet."
"Providence," I managed to say. "You weren't meant to hit him."
"I certainly did so mean to hit him.". Her tone left little doubt about it. "I did get a few number four lead pellets in his backside as he was running out the door," she went on with some satisfaction.
I felt we were getting a little off-track here, and tried to bring us back to the original thought.
"OK, what would it do to your marriage to find out he had not been The One all along? Are you sure you'd want to find that out now?"
"I've still got the shotgun," she said, and then, "Oh, I don't know. Did you at least look at the questions?"
"Some of them," I admitted. "The usual basic five."
"Usual basic five?"
"Sure: money, basic values, world view, sex and religion." She was silent a moment.
Then, "What do they ask about sex?"
"There are only three basic questions to ask about sex: is your partner satisfied with the amount he or she is getting; are you satisfied with what you are getting; and is each of you happy with the quality of your lovemaking? How would you and Stanley answer those questions? That's what you have to ask yourself."
Again the pause. "I don't know," she said. "We never talk about it."
I had the fleeting thought that The One had just up and flown the coop.
"That's OK," I said comfortingly. "In a happy marriage, sex is not the only factor."
"Really?" she said doubtfully. "We haven't done it in years."
"Sometimes there are health reasons or other extraneous factors such as ..."
"No," she said. "We just don't want to. I haven't wanted to for a long time. Not with him, anyway."
The One flew up, up and away.
Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.