Since moving in with Lisa two weeks ago, I realized this is the first time in my life I have lived with a girlfriend. Sharing. Compromising. Cleaning. Cooking. Together.
Now, I have lived with girls before. In fact, the first time I lived on my own I shared an apartment with two lesbians, Mel and Mel. One drunken and disorderly summer I shared an apartment with my sister and her friend and then my senior year in college, poor Gina shared a house with five dudes.
So while I have lived with females before, it wasn’t the same as sharing living quarters with someone with whom you are having relations.
Now, over the years I have learned the basic girl cohabitation rules. Put the toilet seat town. Fill the ice cube tray. Use the air freshener and flush twice.
But after living with Lisa 24 hours a day, there are a few new lessons I have learned. Those of you who are already in a committed relationship know these, so you can nod along condescendingly.
* The first lesson I quickly learned was do not put your feet on the coffee table (“We eat there!”) Now, back in my bachelor pad, my coffee table was my foot rest, my dining room table, my personal office, my manicure station and bar. In fact, sometimes my feet were cleaner than whatever it was I was putting in my mouth.
* The second lesson I learned is that I have to ask when I want a snack. Let I might add, there are no potato chips, frozen pizzas or hot pockets in this apartment. If I want a snack, it’s either grapes, rice cakes or these weird Japanese pretzel thingies wrapped in seaweed (“okaki,” according to my translator). And I can’t just go raid the cupboard anymore. I must ask permission first. And for some reason, when I ask for a snack, I do a little “can I have a snack?” dance. It is oddly similar to my “Mom, can I have some Kool-Aid?” dance.
* Also, there should be no drinking of the milk straight from the carton. This should belong up top with the obvious lessons, but Lisa hasn’t caught me yet, so for now, it stays down here. There are other kitchen discrepancies us men do when it comes to cups, plates, napkins, etc. For instance, when making soup for myself, why dirty a bowl when you can just eat it straight from the pot? The other day I saw my dad doing this, and I swear I didn’t learn it from him. There are other shortcuts, such as eating straight from Tupperware or using a sandwich baggie as a plate. When you live with girls, you are just going to have to get used to washing the dishes. But always bake a frozen pizza directly on the rack. Never use a pizza pan – that’s for amateurs.
* TV watching is a limited engagement. When I lived by myself, there was a TV in every room, and it was always on. The minute I walked in from work, the first thing I did was turn on the tube. I couldn’t sleep unless “Animal House” of “Porky’s” was in the DVD.
I knew something was amiss when Lisa told me I didn’t need to bring a television with me when I moved in. I had three televisions, and they are now all shards at the bottom of the Cedar Falls transfer station. Don’t worry, they were all tube TVs. I am too cheap to buy a new flat screen.
Lisa’s apartment came with a nice flat screen. But there is only one TV. I was like, “Don’t you think we will need one for the bedroom?”
“Why?” she queried, as if I was asking to bring my drum set.
Because I NEED TV.
Since I moved in, we now have quiet time, when the television is turned off. Just after dinner tonight, Lisa and I snuggled on the couch. She asked if I wanted to take a nap or watch TV. To me, these options are one and the same. It’s like she asked if I wanted to play softball or drink beer. In any case, I chose TV.
I must say, now that we have quiet time, I have been much more productive. For instance, I am writing this blog during quiet time.
But one issue we do run into when the TV is on, is who gets to decide what to watch. Which leads me to the next lesson.
* Watching football. I am passionate about my football teams. On Saturday I watch the Hawkeyes. On Sundays, I watch the Vikings, and now also the Eagles. That is simply what I do. And then when my game is over, I will watch whatever game holds the most implications for my fantasy football team.
This arrangement does not suit Lisa. “Football again?” she asks. Yes, it is Sunday and football is on from 1 p.m. (I hate eastern standard time on Sunday. Football is supposed to start at noon.) to 10 or 11 p.m. Then we watch the highlights on ESPN. That schedule is now deader than our old hamster Fozzie.
Now when I want to watch football, I have come up with a ruse. The gym on the 33rd floor always has football on during Saturdays, Sundays and Monday nights. I have been getting a lot of exercise on the weekends.
* Wearing shoes indoors. This lesson is a little case specific, since Lisa is from Japan, and I am not. In Japan, you do NOT wear shoes indoors. This is a custom I respect, and actually followed at my apartment in Marengo. However, there are certain times, like when I was in a hurry and forgot something important like my disc golf frisbees, I would go inside my apartment with my shoes attached to the soles of my feet.
Lisa doesn’t abide by the “in case of emergency” clause. The other day we were running late for the DMV (another story for later) and I realized I forgot an important document. I was about to rush back into the living room, when Lisa shrieked, “Eek! Your shoes!” (Okay, Lisa really didn’t shriek or squeak like a mouse, but I like to distort her behavior for literary effect.) If I was wearing my tennis
shoes, this wouldn’t be a problem. They slip on and off. But I was wearing my brown loafers, that wouldn’t slip off even if I soaked my socks in a mix of vaseline and WD-40. I had to bend down and untie my shoes (of course they are double-knotted), run into the living room, grab the sheet of paper, run back to the front door and double-tie my shoes.
There has got to be an easier way.
There have been a couple of times when I am home by myself, getting ready to leave, and realize I forgot something. Just as I’m about to go back into the apartment with my shoes on I stop, like Pavlov’s dog, and take off my shoes, all the while, thinking in the back of my head, “She will never know.”
But of course she will know. She always knows. Especially when I admit my transgressions in a public blog.
Of course there is the upside to living with a girlfriend. For instance, cuddle time used to mean something completely different.
But the best part is that after four and a half years in a long distance relationship, I get to wake up every morning with Lisa by my side, and taking my shoes off is a very small sacrifice considering everything she has done to make this relationship work.
Giving up football… we’ll see.