Thoughts on the Man I Married and Other Odd People

Joel Sheridan

I’m often surprised by the habits of others: My mom and dad ate pickled pigs feet and beef liver with gusto. That’s abnormal. My sister doesn’t collect anything: no quilts, snow globes, Madam Alexander dolls or baseball cards. That’s odd. In college, it boggled my mind when my roommates postponed studying for a test until the evening before and then pulled an all-nighter. I shook my well-rested head in disbelief as they stumbled into class, bleary-eyed and confused.

My uncle wrote a weekly column for his local paper. Each week he sat in front of his typewriter the day before the column was due and waited for inspiration. When I picture him—sitting, waiting, clock ticking, deadline looming—I fight hysteria. I don’t know how he found the time to debate using a instead of the in the third sentence of the fifth paragraph of his ninth revision.

The man I married twenty years ago has his peculiarities as well, one of them being the way he watches TV. When we’re watching a show together, he invariably surfs other channels during every commercial. By the time he finds his way back to the show we’re watching, we’ve missed a pivotal segment and so watch the remaining segments in a state of confusion.

Another bone of contention we chew on is the amount of lighting necessary for happy living. As darkness falls, I busy myself drawing blinds and switching on lights and lamps. Then Joel wanders in, starts a diverting conversation, dims the lights and turns off the lamps.

Even the kitchen where I chop, sauté, and simmer his dinner is too bright for him. If I drop my guard, he extinguishes the overhead lighting, leaving only the glow of the under-counter lights to illuminate my cooking. It’s difficult to chop vegetables when I can’t distinguish my thumb from a parsnip; sometimes, when bending low to check on the soup’s simmer, I blister my nose.

My husband believes the best defense is a good offense, so when he senses my irritation with his choice of lighting, he says, “Why do you have to have it so bright all the time? The house looks better in low light.” He could be commenting on my housekeeping, but I prefer to think not.

We also have our smaller issues: I put things away. He likes tools, clothes and potato chips left where he won’t forget them. I sigh when he questions my tendency to take things to the thrift store. He grits his teeth when he expresses a preference, “I like the chair better in front of the window,” and I respond dismissively, “I know you do, Joel.”

Despite these differences, we usually accept one another’s oddities as minor nuisances, insignificant when compared to the many important values we share and the many ways we like each other.

But the next time we go to a movie, and he interrupts an intense scene to ask what other roles the lead actor has played, I plan to insist on a fair share of the popcorn. That’ll show him.

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88 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Man I Married and Other Odd People

    • Aren’t they something? And even as I make that statement, I can hear our husbands saying about us, “Aren’t they something?” Fortunately, all of us are aware of the more important things: love and values.

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  1. Lovely and entertaining post Janet. We all have our quirks and oddities but time helps us accept them. You are not alone in that boat but as we age we know enough to choose our battles wisely for love and happiness is more important. Sounds to me like you’ve conquered it. Have a great weekend. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You guys could switch places with me and my wife. I go light switch to light switch. She prefers dim-to-dark. We have other differences, but after 33 years, I think we can deal with them. I’m not sure I’d try to take er popcorn though, she’s a huge fan.

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  3. I enjoyed reading the love in your words describing a few bumps in a shared life. I’ve counseled my children that relationship breakers are not religious or political ideas. Rather, do you agree on car radio stations, thermostat settings, blankets tucked or loose, pets or no pets, who controls the remote, early mornings or late evenings, calamari appetizers, strong coffee, whistling at 6am …. you know, the important things.

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    • Thanks for the detailed list of marital irritations. I could have addressed several of them in this post and certainly will use them some time in the future — if I may — particularly “blankets tucked or untucked.” I just heard on the news about the fires raging in the Lake Tahoe area. My heart aches to think of that beautiful region being scarred once again by fire.

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  4. Another charming post Janet. My husband of 70 years hates commercials on TV so he changes channels, and as you ponted out, you have missed the key point in the original program. He likes the cell phone in one place, while I like it in another, he can’t go long without either the remote control or a telephone in his hand while I rarely use the phone. Strange that we have lived and loved together for all these years. There must be something good in the air.

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    • The phone issue exists in my house as well, Kayti. I avoid using my smart phone for anything but necessary calls or texts and often have no idea where it is, not checking it for days. Joel always has his and looks for opportunities to use it. Yet the something good in your air is also in ours. It is so wonderful that the two of you have lived and loved for seventy years.

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  5. Janet, I got a lovely chuckle envisioning Joel plunked in front of the TV, remote in hand, surrounded by his tools and potato chips. I too have a hubby with the occasional oddity that can bring on a full out laughter meltdown. Aren’t we blessed that it is only these minor quirks our spouses exhibit? How I enjoy reading your posts!

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    • Knowing you enjoy reading my posts makes me happy, Joanne; as did your sentence “I too have a hubby with the occasional oddity that can bring on a full out laughter meltdown.” Laughing together makes such a positive difference in a happy marriage. We are blessed indeed.

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  6. Oh Janet, I had such a good laugh! This story really hits home now that JL is not working. We are entering another adjustment period in our marriage and while I really enjoy having him home, I sometimes feel like my days have been uprooted! Thanks for the great post!

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    • I’m glad I made you laugh, Janice. We, too, had some adjustments to make when Joel joined me in retirement. But make them we did; and make them you will. I know that as surely as I know the lovely fall we’re having in Craig won’t last.

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  7. Oh my, Tim is exactly like Joel as far as TV watching and lighting are concerned.

    Sometimes I do wonder how people manage to live together and not get on each other’s nerves with their own peculiar habits. I had a few college roommates who literally drove me to distraction.
    And, truth be told, those experiences made me a little gun-shy of marriage.

    In a marriage though, I’ve finally decided that if you really like the person you’re married to—if, in addition to romantic “love” you also have a real friendship—then you’re more willing to put up with each other’s differences and oddities. (Not that those little things can’t still drive you crazy at times!)

    Another fun read, Janet! Congratulations on 20 years!

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    • Thanks, Rita. I think half the battle is realizing that we, too, have peculiarities. And the other half you described perfectly: “in addition to romantic “love” you also have a real friendship..” I also agree that the little things can still drive you crazy, but as I get older, I also get less crazy about the quirks of others. PS: thanks to your fine husband, I am typing this response without the assistance of glasses!

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    • Yes, it is, Chris. But it’s hard for me to balance when it’s so dark in my house i can’t see where I’m going! I’ve had some eye issues that forced me away from the computer, but I hope to catch up with you and your poetry soon.

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      • You might want to consider a headlamp 🙂
        It might make a point – and improve visibility while the point sets in. Good luck! We had a very similar situation here for years (I was the one who desired a little more light). Over time it seems to have changed. Have a great day Janet, and hopefully your eye issues clear up soon.

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      • I tried reading with a headlamp in bed when I wasn’t yet ready to go to sleep. Needless to say, it was too bright for his majesty, so now I sit up for a while with a bright light when I want to read at night. Thanks for your well wishes. I’m on the mend and almost back to normal.

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  8. These days, some of those differences would probably annoy the hell out of many people enough to lead to divorce, but I think you and I are made of stronger stuff. If we didn’t all have our differences, we wouldn’t be unique, individual, human-beings and it’s what’s beneath the little irritations (and occasionally, charming idiosynchrasies) that make our relationships so much more interesting, don’t you think?

    I’m more like your husband with the light – I prefer dimmer, but that’s because of my eyes rather than a preference for dark – and my hubby can drive me half-way to distraction not so much with channel-hopping but with only playing a couple of bars of a song and then skipping to the next track, but I forgive him that as he’s a musician and his synapses are from a different planet than mine. (She says, kindly and with a grin.)

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    • Oh, how I enjoy your comments, Val. My favorite line in this one: “…but I forgive him that as he’s a musician and his synapses are from a different planet than mine.” I have a very good friend, a musician, who illustrates your point. I think perhaps our generation is made of stronger stuff, though not so strong as our parents’ generation, which, along with the current political scene, makes me worry about the future of our country. It seems everyone has forgotten that differences are natural and OK. (I don’t know why your charming comment led me down this particular path, and I’m sorry it did!)

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  9. Glad you can work through these things. Does he really like the lights low, or does he worry about your electricity bill? You hope it has nothing to do with your housecleaning–That’s totally what I would’ve said!

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    • I wondered about the possible motivation of the electric bill for his strange behavior at first, so I asked. Nope. He doesn’t like bright lights. I’ve noticed he does the same thing when we visit our children, who look at him, roll their eyes, and turn the lights back on. Recently, because of the fun of the summer and fall seasons, I’ve neglected the housework; so I haven’t found the dim lighting he prefers to be so annoying.

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  10. Kyle has been at the TV switching for so long that he doesn’t miss the start of the program we’re actually watching without knowing it. He also knows which ones are the “long” ads and which ones are the “short” ads. Now there’s a skill not everybody has!

    I always enjoy your column, Janet.

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    • Great to hear from you, Bonnie. Kyle does, indeed, sound skilled. I’ll try to keep Joel away from him; I’d rather my husband didn’t learn any new tricks. Thank you for reading my work, Bonnie. It makes me happy to know we are still connected in spite of your move. You and Kyle are missed.

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  11. You say:
    “Posted in cherish friends and loved ones
    Tagged accepting differences, aging well, humor, humorous memoir, living well, memoir, secrets of good marriages.”

    All this you cover beautifully. It makes me feel very good to read what you have written.

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  12. I’m still smiling after reading your post, Janet. My daughter can’t understand how we survive in such dim light in the living room. I have insisted on a bright light in the kitchen, so no burnt noses!
    My husband believes in leaving things where he can find them, just places things on the nearest table or where he takes them off. Of course he can’t find anything, especially when I put them away.

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    • And I’m still smiling from your comment, Barbara. I regularly hear, “Janet do you know where my ________ is?” And, if I put the item in question away, I do; if not, I reply, “Where did you last use it?” and Joel goes away mumbling to himself.

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  13. Ohhhhh Aunt Beula … I love anyone who makes me laugh … and you’ve just made Monday a beautiful day. I laughed in such a way that although it’s a little dull and rainy outside, where I am, the sun came out and lit up my world.
    Love this fantastic post, and the smiles and love contained in it.
    ~ Cobs. x

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  14. I live alone, which allows me to exhibit normal behavior at all times. No noticeable quirks, neuroses, or oddities. I channel-surf in the dark, and my pants are on the floor . . . right where I left them.
    Another great post, Janet.

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  15. It seems to me that Joel might have something to say about Junior Mints in popcorn… 🙂 Reading your words always makes me miss you so much. Come visit! I have a VERY BRIGHT overhead light in the kitchen, and Chris can keep Joel busy while we cook.

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    • Indeed, he did Carolyn, exhibiting a distaste for what I considered the best movie fare available. I, too, read your comments and immediately visualize, hear, and miss you. I guess that’s what voice in writing is all about. The visit you describe sounds wonderful. Maybe it could happen in Colorado?

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  16. Hi Aunt Beulah,
    It is always good to be reminded that you are not alone in this world when you are poised to create your very own Cluedo scene and prospectively become Miss Scarlet with the Dagger in the Dining Room. My beloved other to whom I have shared my life with for 40 years has proven beyond doubt that I was dealt a life sentence when we took our vows, it had nothing to do with
    ‘ To love and to treasure from this day forward, in sickness and in health, for better or worse’
    It happens ever so slowly over the years, while the kids are young and you are busy making sure every aspect of your families needs are taken care of and you both get on with it. Then suddenly you are Darby and Joan, every little nuance that has gone either unnoticed or you were too busy for it to matter, becomes epic.
    I positively did not realise how ignorant my Darby is, but he simply doesn’t know where a single thing in our house is.
    The remote lives right beside his chair, and god forbid if It gets relocated. Otherwise it is just a proverbial,
    Where’s my hat ( where you bloody left it)
    Where’s my shoes ( where you took the bloody things off)
    Where’s my phone ( how would I bloody know)
    This list could go on forever but it would just drive me closer to Miss Scarlet again.
    This is an everyday occurence, nonetheless I have done my time with far more endearing traits to my Darby that shall see us
    ‘Till death do us part’
    I can only hope he can find things should I happen to depart first!!
    I loved this story so much Aunt Beulah, The whole world over could relate, I suspect oddness is everywhere but what a boring old world it would be if we were all the same.
    You always create a sense of reality, wonder, relativity, fun, and pure delight with your writing, I love it!!
    From one very understanding Joan to another
    Big hugs wrapped in love from
    Annie in Australia 🌞 🌴 🌊 💜

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think the world is full of Joans like us, Annie, and in my honest moments I realize that we also drive the Darby’s insane, but not as frequently or dramatically. I loved this comment, another that kept me chuckling, and one can never laugh too much, right? Thanks for your kind words about my writing. Sometimes when I’m writing, I picture you and some of my other favorite bloggers enjoying what I have to say and I always hope you won’t be disappointed, so thanks for reassuring me. Love you, Sunshine. Janet

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  17. It started with a giggle, then a chuckle, and then full on rolling on the floor with tears in my eyes! What a fabulous way to start my day!

    I hear you on the lights, but it’s the other way around for us. Loving Husband is always turning on the lights when I am happily pottering around in my dim kitchen – I think he’s afraid I will cut myself (which I’m afraid happens rather often regardless of the lighting situation).

    It is funny & heart-warming to know that our couple quirks are shared by many (as I read some of the comments posted by your readers). Never have I felt so much solidarity & understanding!

    Thank you for this shared experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Good day Janet, have had to re follow you and other bother. When our Ma died, all there was in the fridge was some green cream, and a jar of pickled watermelon rinds. She took the mystery with her, and her recipe for Mocha Cake. She happily sat in the dark, cigarette to light the way, I have on every light. Good you have your Joel for a chuckle..chat soon.

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  19. A headlamp, as suggested in comments, could be good while cooking but I can just imagine Joel recoiling when you look at him! A lovely post and comments. Gosh, I haven’t had a pig’s trotter for decades, having forgotten such a treat ever existed.

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  20. I’ve had ex’s, friends, cousins and flatmates who channel surf during commercials. Drove me nuts! Luckily Brett doesn’t do that

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