In college I read an article in which a poll of newlywed women revealed that they did not have as much sex as they’d anticipated on their honeymoon. Instead, late-night activities included sleeping, eating and counting checks. I cast the magazine aside, cursing the post-modern woman and her unromantic notions of marriage. And this from a person who only gets romantic about imported cheese. When the first of my friends to get married took her honeymoon, I braced for the impact of high-velocity love.
I suppressed the urge, like rising bile, to demand the return of my wedding gift, since this union was clearly doomed. They saw a movie on their honeymoon? And one starring Keanu Reeves? How was there time to see a movie when there were baths to be had in side-by-side clawfoot tubs facing the sunset? Was Barbados out of horses to ride in the crashing surf?
Straining to lend support, I choked upon my words, “I bet everyone does that. I’m going to go ahead and Fandango my honeymoon matinee now!”
As I hung up the phone, I vowed to the gods of Sandals Resorts that I would do their catalogs proud on my own honeymoon.
Then I took my honeymoon.
The fissures in our union materialized as soon as we embarked on the trip from my parents house in Tucson, Ariz., the site of our wedding, to Sedona, where we’d have a few days to rest and romp. We borrowed my parents car for the long drive. I opened the driver’s side door, key fob in hand, when Greg stealthily dove into the seat.
“I want to drive,” I whined. “This is my parent’s car. And I know how to get there.”
He closed the door and muttered, “I get car sick if I don’t drive.”
Our bickering continued for several more minutes as my parents looked on through the window of the living room, mentally tallying the cost of the reception charges. We reversed from the driveway, he as the driver, and I grimly realized that having never owned a car during our courtship in New York City meant that I had unwittingly married the person who cites motion sickness as the reason they must always have their way.
By the time we’d arrived, I had learned another unfortunate truth about my husband. He likes Tom Petty a great deal. After the third revolution of the Greatest Hits album, I emerged from the car ready to send myself free fallin’ over a scenic lookout site, but was distracted by the ring of my phone. I glanced at the screen. It was my brother. I wasn’t sure of the protocol for accepting phone calls on a honeymoon. It wasn’t as if I could put a Do Not Disturb placard on my voicemail. I waffled over honeymoon-wireless decorum another moment before deciding it wouldn’t be uncouth to answer given that my brother really might have overdosed on tequila at our reception the night before.
“Get ready to see George Bush rain on your Democrat parade! He’s gonna bring the pain to you bleeding heart hippies tonight. This will be a honeymoon to remember, you John Kerry-loving moron.”
I hung up swiftly, directing a tense smile at my new husband. Swept up in the tumult of wedding preparation, I’d forgotten that the first day of our honeymoon was Election Day. My brother, a staunch Republican, was prepared to badger us for the next four years if Bush secured a second term.
The first item on the honeymoon itinerary was a twilight hike over the vistas and red rocks that Sedona is famous for. If we timed it right, we would gaze upon the sunset that streaks the boundless sky with pink and yellow hues. When we arrived at the trail head, Greg noticed a general store. If you’ve grown up in the Southwest, you know that a general store is a tourist trap doling out useless carved figurines and turquoise bolos, all meant to be exotic since a man who claims to be an Apache is selling them. Once inside, Greg spent a fortnight poring over cowboy boots while I ate yellow Chiclets purporting to be Fools Gold from a mining pan. As he modeled countless pairs of boots, I shared a riveting account of the Indian Longhouse I’d constructed from popsicle sticks in grade school with our Native American shopkeeper. Prepared to discuss the politics of reservation land and casino gaming to pass a few more hours, my phone rang again. I held it to my ear.
“Will you tell me what it feels like to be a loser when Bush sweeps this election?”
I silenced my phone and alerted Greg to the dipping sun out the window. He had decided on a pair of cowboy boots sure to impart the bravado of a man who brands cattle. Relieved to have left the store without a pistol and a belt buckle, I noticed the sun had dropped below the peaks of the mountains. I suggested we return to the car since we’d missed the climax, but Greg insisted on pushing forward, determined to climb something. I tugged at his arm in disagreement when — out of nowhere — he shoved me hard, sending me to the ground. As I struggled to my feet, I followed his stare, straining to understand why I was just assaulted by my husband.
Directly in our path, relishing the sun-baked dirt, was a large tarantula.
I breathed a sigh of relief and stared at him, bemused, as he backed away from the spider as though it was armed with an even bigger spider in a slingshot. Instead of undergoing that pause that allows one to see the comedy of their circumstances, Greg launched into a diatribe about desert wastelands and the varied reasons the East Coast is infinitely superior to my Southwestern home. He hurled insults at every Saguaro cactus in sight while my irritation percolated. I felt under attack and had grown irritable from hunger, which led me to a regrettable and impulsive act.
I kicked that tarantula at my new husband.
As Greg stormed back to the car, cowboy boots meeting the earth with thunderous booms, I followed behind, wondering if square-offs over large arachnids constituted irreconcilable differences. I felt a vibration in my pocket. I glanced at the text message that had come in from my brother.
“Polls are in Bush’s favor, you pussy-footing, indecisive lefties.”
After showering and dressing in silence at the hotel, we found ourselves in the dining quagmire New Yorkers experience when they travel elsewhere: Restaurants close by 9 p.m. After being turned away by every place on the hotel’s compound, we found ourselves eating at a round-the-clock diner specializing in an unfathomable number of omelets. There we sat, on our honeymoon, barely speaking to each other between bites of greasy eggs. The only thing befitting our setting was Greg’s God-forsaken cowboy boots. I excused myself to the bathroom where I discovered 14 more text messages loaded with political taunts from my brother. I gripped the side of the sink as I stared at myself in the water-stained mirror.
This honeymoon sucks; I’d give anything to see a movie right now.
I walked out of the bathroom as the patrons clad entirely in denim took stock of my dressy attire with expressions of suspicion. I sauntered to the table, determined to begin anew, prepared to comply with any amorous request from my husband. This was our honeymoon, after all, the acme of love and and passion. So I took his hands in mine and told him I wanted to make amends and make this trip feel like a honeymoon. He deliberated for a minute before he asked me to ride a mule down into the gorge of the Grand Canyon.
We resumed eating our slimy eggs when he asked, “Why is your brother leaving me messages about raising our kids Republican?”
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 at imgonnakillhim.bangordailynews.com and on Twitter @gonnakillhim.