My husband and I have nothing in common.
Well, that may be a bit of hyperbole, as we both have an endoskeleton and are citizens of the United States. We once even ordered identical meals at a restaurant, but it was from a place with a tasting menu that bound us to the same dishes if we wanted to eat at all. Most of the time I’m convinced we even derive from the same genus and species, though I’ve witnessed moments, usually preceded by heavy traffic, that have cast doubt on his provenance. We both like vacations and guacamole, but if those were the standards by which compatibility was assessed, all the world’s people would be braiding each other’s hair in a giant Conga line.
If there were a God of Free Time and Hobbies and Other Things Parents Don’t Have, and that God were to bestow on us hours with which to do anything, Greg would do something involving active wear. And oars. The very fact that I refer to it as “active wear” reveals my proclivity for everything sedentary and for spending too much time at TJ Maxx.
We’ve always been different, though it was less apparent when we met, mostly because I am a liar. There were times, at the beginning of our courtship, that a bold-faced lie escaped my lips, something such as, “Of course I hike. All the time. Sheer cliffs and rocky passes. Yes, in ballet flats. They’re really sort of cross-trainers.” More often the lies came in the form of omission or avoidance, deflections of inquiries into camping, running and preferred sports teams. Once we were married, the facade crumbled and it became achingly evident that I had no idea who the Patriots were and that all of my hobbies centered on trans-fats and reading about tawdry political scandals.
We’ve tried to find synergies in our activities, but most efforts led to disastrous results. He once hatched a plan to get me on a boat, a jaunt that resulted in the frequent blowing of a safety whistle while I wept into the synthetic fibers of my two life jackets. I tried taking him to a foreign film, a regrettable decision from the moment he learned independent theaters don’t sell trays of nachos. I once assembled a handful of his friends into a book club that was soon dismantled due to Greg’s unwillingness to analyze conflicts and themes with the men he stands next to at adjacent urinals. Several years of half-hearted dalliances with bowling, yoga, golf, tennis, walking, croissant-eating, body surfing, cooking and batting cages concluded similarly. So we steeled ourselves to separate interests unless traveling outside of the continental United States, because everyone does things outside of their comfort zone when holding a phrase book and filled to the brim with unpasteurized cheese.
But every now and then, and not while on vacation or in a hypothermic survival situation, we stumble into something that we can do together. Someone points us toward a book, a game, or a show that contains the DNA helix bound to catch our joint fancy. I had my doubts when friends suggested we watch the series Friday Night Lights, a show depicting the ups and downs of life in a dusty town besotted by football.
We’ve been at it for a few weeks. The instant the kids are asleep, we resume our posts in front of the screen’s glare, attention held by the stories unfolding. We’re both transfixed, breaking our gaze only to jeer at the other when a prediction about the plot materializes or goes completely counter to our guess. It’s nice to have something to do together even if it doesn’t involve talking, discovering or eye contact, because it also doesn’t entail drowning, falling or sweating. We are committed to our hobby, dutifully seeing our way through every dramatic climax and intercepted pass together, willing to backhand each other at the first sign of drooping eyelids.
All this time spent communing with each other in front of on-screen entertainment has left us wanting more, wondering what will bewitch us next. Greg was hoping my newfound attraction to a drama about football might generalize to traditional sports viewing. Over the weekend, he patted the cushion beside him and said, “Come hang out with me and watch the game.” I approached intrepidly, lowered into the seat, and turned my focus to the Giants vs. A Different Color game. Exactly seven seconds later, I said, “This sucks. I’m going upstairs to stare at my pores.”
Because shared hobbies don’t come in one touchdown. They’re a series of downs and timeouts.
Erin Donovan moved with her family to the midcoast, where she constantly is told she says the word “scallops” incorrectly. She performs live and produces Web sketches derived from her popular humor blog I’m Gonna Kill Him. Follow her misadventures on imgonnakillhim.bangordailynews.com and on Twitter @gonnakillhim.