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Perfect Imperfections



While my girlfriends were drooling over Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell, I was crushing on Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters. Ok, crushing may be a strong word here, but I was definitely smitten with any man that made me laugh. Funny is sexy and to me, having a quick wit exudes intelligence. A funny man who also has a tendency to be bad is even better. 

The quintessential bad boy is not meet-your-mother worthy. How about date-your-mother worthy?  Enter the resident bad boy, my father. When my dad took my mom out on their first date my mother couldn't shake the feeling of someone following them. Us Dellapenta/Phelan girls have been accused of being a bit too quirky for our own good, but this paranoia was justified. There was not one, not two, but three different women following my father around that night. He had broken all of their hearts and one in particular was still walking around with her engagement ring on her finger. You heard me right. My father was engaged to one of these loons before he met my mother. My Grandmother once said that my Mom slapped the bad out of him and I'll be damned, I really believe she did. You should have seen the way my father looked at my mother. If this man was still a bad boy I don't think he would be capable of that level of puppy dog eyes for any one woman. 

I grew up thinking that my parents never fought. They were always laughing with each other and much to my sisters and I's aggravation, were always in agreement when we weren’t allowed to do something. There was none of that “Go ask your father” bullshit. They both always had the same answer. They would dance in the kitchen to old people music and try to outdo the other on Christmas. Dad would always have an extra present for Mom hidden somewhere in the house and Mom would manage to forget she had another gift for Dad in her sock drawer.


So when I found out my parents’ marriage wasn’t perfect I was stunned. Talk about being sheltered. I had just had my first real heart break after calling it quits with my boyfriend in my early twenties. We had been together for five years so you can imagine that I was nothing short of crushed. He was my first everything. 

I remember sitting on the edge of my parent’s bed chatting with my Mom while she folded laundry. After I cried for a bit, she wiped my nose with an old rag, gave me a hug and said, “Do you really think prince charming doesn’t have any pimples on his ass?”

What she meant by this was that no man was perfect. There was a skeleton in everyone's closet. 

She went onto explain that every relationship needed a good amount of work to sustain it, including she and my father’s seemingly perfect one. She even embellished, much to the dismay of my bleeding ears, that early on there were nights where my mother would have to lock my father out of the bedroom just to get a decent night's sleep. I remember her telling me that passion only got you so far before someone was stuck, "humpin' the couch" all by their lonesome.

This breakup was truly eye opening. I learned not only that my waterproof mascara worked like a charm, but also that my mother and I had become friends. 

So I moved on with this newfound knowledge that even great relationships had flaws and lucky me, I had the misfortune of dating every flawed frog out there.  I met the guy who thought it was OK to make out in front of me with another girl during Senior Week in college, citing that he didn't know what he was doing because he was so drunk. I met the guy who thought I was his girlfriend immediately and decided to tell me what I could and could not wear. I even met the guy who thought he was being sly when he tried to push my head down to his man parts the night I met him. I guess when he realized I wasn't into kissing him, he figured he would go for broke. It was the first and only time I have ever slapped a man. When I need to play with the big boys at work I channel my inner slapstress before entering the boardroom. 

I came out of these experiences a bit jarred and frankly a bit angry. So the night I met my husband I had just about had it with men.   


I met him with a cigarette in my hand (I am not perfect either!) and a cowgirl hat on my head.  It was Saloon Bar NYC’s annual Halloween bash and my future husband wasn’t dressed up. Blasphemous. Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays since I was a little girl. This was mostly because my birthday was just a week prior and most of my parties were Halloween-themed thanks to my mother. So if you show up for a Halloween party, you best be dressed up for the occasion otherwise you are one of “those” people.  It’s like attending a book club meeting when you haven’t even read the book. What is the point? So when this mysterious guy stood on line to get into the bar and had no costume on I was mildly annoyed yet wildly intrigued.

For the first time I began to see the benefits of not dressing up on Halloween. For starters, he was immediately more appealing than anyone that had a hideous, fake blood-soaked costume on. Furthermore, this person obviously had the self-confidence to go out on Halloween in Manhattan not dressed up where he would stick out, whereas the other half of the population were hiding their insecurities under a mask or slutty get up.  It was this thought that set the wheels in motion. Well that and the fact that I could see he had the tall, dark and handsome thing going on and was sporting a goatee that was complimented by two blue eyes under the street lamp.  I mustered up the nerve to go over to him after  a shot of Jameson my friend challenged me to approach him. Before I knew it, we were holding hands like two fifth graders in the playground.

I wish I could say the handholding was due to the intense attraction we had for each other. It was however more than likely due to my balance issues from my too-high-for-me cowgirl boots and slightly higher than necessary blood alcohol level. Needless to say the night ended unceremoniously when I ran to hitch a ride with my friends who swore they would leave me there if I didn’t get my rear end in the car. It was safe to say I liked him from the start. He came with all the fun, charm and mysteriousness that I was craving. We had an unmistakable connection from the night we met. He had just the right mix of funny and bad to make my heart swoon. 


Before we knew it, four years had passed and I was putting an ultimatum on the table on Labor Day weekend of 08’. Marry me or leave me quickly turned into run from me like your pants are on fire.  The man was talking about bartending in a tropical island somewhere where no one would find him. Talk about life back firing on you. The goal was for him to be insanely lovesick to the point where he couldn’t live without me. Not be insanely angry and liberated to encompass the character Tom Cruise played in the movie Cocktail.

We were hurt, angry and unwilling to meet in the middle, yet we couldn't let go. And so we met at Nick's Pizza on the Upper East Side about a month after our break up. I'm not going to lie, the walk from the subway to the restaurant was extremely awkward and I had on way too much make-up and probably smelled like a hooker. I had enough perfume on to share with a department store. We sat down and ordered our usual with two glasses of Merlot. Once the small talk was over and the glasses were filled, we raised them to toast like we always did. As far as intense moments go, this was an absolute ten. Would we toast to our future or to our farewell? Mike put his glass down and reached out for my hand. I hesitated. 

"Come on, you know me, I don't bite.... in public." This made me laugh and consequently broke the awkward tension. We sat there hand in hand, finished the bottle and got back to being us. We didn't run from opposite directions in a field of grass. I didn't jump into his arms and wrap my legs around him. There were no cliches. It was just us. Just us laughing. Just us teasing. Just us bonding. It felt right. We held on because we had something to fight for. 

Fast forward to Labor Day weekend a year later in 09’ when Mike asked me to marry him. He proposed in front of the Bryant Park Grill where we had our first date. We then toasted at the Bryant Park CafĂ© across the way. We revisited the scene of the crime on Labor Day weekend 12' to celebrate our newly discovered pregnancy. Mike had his own toast at the bar while I scanned the premises for a garbage pail to yak in.

The most important part of a relationship isn't the passion. It isn't the happy times and funny stories, or for that matter - the hard times. The most important part is how you get there.  It's about the feelings that take you to the place where you can't imagine your life without that person. The feelings that make you want to slap that person as hard as you can in the face when you are angry. They are the best and the worst that you are as a person and the best and the worst that your partner is. It is the hard that makes it all so worthwhile and the love that remains after the storms have been weathered. The sunshine will always be beaming in the background to welcome you back, and my dear sweet Madison, that in itself is the beauty of life.  

It's swallowing your pride and letting someone else in to see every part of you. It's like MeMa once said, it's basically taking off all of your clothes while you have a terrible case of the chicken pox and saying, "You still find me attractive, right?"


Your grandparents showed me how to love and accept one of the most important truths I will ever pass onto you... Love only works when you recognize it is beautifully flawed. It is its imperfections that make it so perfect. 



MeMa and Grandpa, February 20, 1972



Comments

  1. Especially appreciate the paragraph about relationships--the getting there.
    Marilyn

    ReplyDelete

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