My partner Sara and I are beginning to lose touch—
Lose touch with what it means to be an even remotely “normal” American couple. Some might say that’s not such a bad thing, but I promise you, we have gotten so far from the center of the bell curve, we can’t find the bell any more. We can’t even hear it ringing in the distance.
So–in light of this loss, today, I bring you the top 10 ways you too can be the most un-American of American couples:
#10. Station armed guards outside your house.
This is sure to eliminate any and all illusions of privacy.
(If you are new to the blog, my partner Sara and I live in Haiti where threats to security are common. Click here to read a post about this.)
#9. Argue frequently about how you will generate electricity.
Sara and I have been known to have some of our hottest arguments around just how long we can safely run our generator, especially on days when we have no or very little electricity from the city. I don’t like to be hot. Heat makes me irritable, bitchy, and stressed. So during the hottest nights here in Haiti, I’ve wanted to keep the air conditioning on, or at the very least, a fan running—neither of which are possible without electricity or our generator running.
(To read an entire post dedicated to Haiti’s infrastructure issues click here.)
#8. Do without television.
Instead watch DVDs of “30-Something” for evening entertainment. I knew things were getting bad when over the weekend Sara and I watched back to back episodes of the show’s first season and felt like we were enjoying a special treat, hovering around Sara’s laptop like kids in front of Saturday morning cartoons.
“Oh, boy!” we exclaimed elbowing one another. “Isn’t this great!” We would have broken out the popcorn, if we had a microwave to pop it in.
#7. Go to bed before dinner.
Not out of passion, but because you’ve become dreadfully boring and tire easily.
#6. Have no hot water in your kitchen sink.
Not to mention no dish-washer.
#5. Develop an active fear of kidnapping.
On average—there’s a kidnapping a day in Port-au-Prince—usually of foreigners, often of ex-pats working for NGOs on earthquake reconstruction. And in fact, a number of these kidnappings actually happen in Petion-ville, where we live, since most NGOs have set up their operations from this location.
Many ex-pats are kidnapped from their cars. To alleviate that risk we drive with seatbelts on, windows up, doors locked. It’s harder to be pulled from a vehicle that way.
#4. Stage incidents of international canine trafficking.
I know most folks don’t traipse the planet, canine companions in tow, but Sara and I, for whatever reason, see fit to move our mutts to whichever corner of the globe is hosting the latest in earth-shaking disasters.
For example, it was challenging to take a 40 pound, blonde terrier to Vietnam, where the meat of medium sized, light skinned canines is still considered a delicacy. And though it ended well, concluded with Ralph arriving uneaten in Hanoi, it proved so crazy-making along the way, we “sanely” decided to bring him here to Haiti this past summer.
However, that trip proved less eventful—except for his traveling companions on the flight from Miami to Port-au-Prince—the 10,000 chicks he still hasn’t stopped chirping about.
(For an entire post on pet-transport mishaps click here.)
#3. Appreciate the difference between “trash” and “stash.”
Sara has “placement issues”—a problem she blames on her training as an architect and which she insists I knew about prior to our partnering and simply can not change. Bottom line—Sara likes to arrange things: drawers, cupboards, closets, the contents of the refrigerator, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup arranged in tidy rows—like items lined up together—like soldiers—an army of condiments ready for edible action. If an object doesn’t fall neatly into rank, the solution for Sara is simple—throw it in the trash.
I, on the other hand, tend to collect things—and not the kinds of things most would consider collectables, but which I gather in the name of “potential art”—items I prefer to call “collagables”—buttons, beads, ribbons, rocks, shells, business cards, bottle caps, maps, matchboxes, newspaper clippings, play bills, and, among other things, sales receipts—in my mind the most under-rated and readily available of all the collagables—a free gift with each purchase, so to speak.
Sara insists my stash is trash!
#2. Agree on only one thing.
That there are too many white people in America.
On one of our recent trips back to the US what stood out to both of us most, even though our home is in an ethically-mixed neighborhood, was the overwhelming huge number of Caucasian in the city where we live. At one point Sara turned to me in the grocery store produce isle and asked: “What do you notice about being home?” My response was immediate, “There are so many white people in America! I had forgotten.” It surprised us how quickly we both had become conditioned to what seems an appropriate ethnic mix. We had made a shift that we noticed only when coming “home.” If this can happen for us, it can happen for others. Come join us. Make the switch.
#1. Be denied the right to marry.
This one I think speaks for itself, but if not please watch this video:
Sara reminds me, that though we don’t have the right to marry in Kentucky, we at least now have an openly gay mayor in Lexington, so that’s a step in the right direction. (To read about Jim Gray click here.)
However, Sara also insists that, by far, the weirdest thing about us as couple is that I asked her to brainstorm with me about “what makes us weird as a couple.” I’m not exactly sure what’s so weird about that, but Sara says my not recognizing the strangeness of that request makes it even weirder. I don’t know. You be the judge.
At any rate, remember that “normal” is a difficult to define category. I appreciate that. But if you recall the 1960s television sitcom, “The Odd Couple,” you’ll see that I’m not talking so much about individual issues that separate us from the crowd. I’m looking at the entire constellation of individual quirks that combine to make a couple what most others would consider strange. I’m looking at the “Odd Couple” factor, if you will.
Felix Unger and Oscar Madison epitomized for a generation of Americans just what it meant to be uniquely coupled in the 1960s.
But If Felix and Oscar were the not-so-average pair of heterosexual bachelors in the 60s, I would argue that Sara and I are the same for this decade’s no-where-near-single lesbian couple—a uniqueness not related in the least to the reality of sexual preference.
In fact, Sara and I give whole new meaning to the notion of “odd couple”—sexual orientation not withstanding.
We may be weird–
But we do want to wed!
What sets you and your partner apart from the crowd? What makes a couple “weird” in the country you call home? Do gay and lesbian couple have the right to wed where you live?