I didn’t marry the super hot dude. In fact, at the time we were married, my husband was constantly being mistaken for Jack Black — so much so that, in Vegas, gaggles of people approached us cautiously and begged for autographs.
I didn’t marry the super rich guy, either. Sure, he had some money tucked away. But we weren’t about to snap up a McMansion and retire to greyhounds and country clubs. I didn’t really marry the super nice one, either: my husband was known for his snark. He read McSweeney’s and The Onion, and while he was secretly sweet and kind, he was master of the biting put-down.
I did, however, marry the man who could make me laugh. Some things have changed over the past decade or so — his beard is graying, though he’s still cute; we hit more of the “for poorer” than the “for richer” part of our vows; and his biting retort has mostly mellowed. But he’s still the funniest person I know.
My mother always told me to marry a man who could make me laugh. I followed her advice. And she was right — hands-down, no-question.
My husband has gags he’s been running for years. Over a decade. I mentioned it to him, and he laughed. “Yeah, it’ll give us something to talk about in the nursing home,” he said. “We can just shout SeaLab 2021 jokes at each other.”
But there was some deep truth there. Those jokes — the one where our dog, who may have been Most Intellectually Challenged Dog on Earth before her brain injury, takes orders from a magical tree stump in the backyard — those jokes are a cornerstone for us. They’re something we share, something the two of us have together.
“She’s talking to the stump again,” he’ll mutter, and I’ll crack up, knowing he means that the dog is being particularly dumb. This joke is over a decade old and still rolling.
But it’s not just the running gags that get me. It’s the little things. He likes to be funny, and he likes me to laugh, so he puts in some effort. I’ll be up to my ears in screaming kids and peanut butter, toys underfoot, my voice hoarse from yelling at someone, anyone, to pick them up. “I hope you’re not on the interstate,” he’ll suddenly text, in the middle of the day. He knows I’m not on the interstate. “Because the ramp is blocked onto Parham Rd. after a tractor trailer overturned, spilling, and this is a quote, ‘Fluid chicken parts.’”
This gives me a chance to step out of the whirlwind of children, to suddenly be a giggly wife. “OMG NO THAT IS SO NASTY!!!!!!” I get to reply.
His humor takes me away from the humdrum, the everydayness of life. It makes everything new and fresh. When someone had a rattlesnake drop into their kayak and attack them — then admitted that they were messing with the snake for several minutes after plucking it out of the water before said attack, we worked in a good five minutes of snark at what fucking idiots members of our state can be. And that five minutes? The day felt better for it. I felt better for it. Life in general took on a better shine for the belly laughs he gave me.
He’s also not above making fun of himself — a crucial skill for anyone. The other day at school, a can of soup exploded on him, and he had to spend his planning period in Target buying soup-free clothes. He sent me a hilarious message about it, and I got to giggle at him.
And he’s also not above making fun of me. When the dog ate every single one of my bean plants, I went ballistic. He just roared. “I have to read you your text messages,” he said through tears. “OMG. Try to hear these with an unbiased ear. ‘My beans were so beautiful.’ OMG. You’re acting like she ate the Sistine Chapel.” I might have told him to shut the fuck up and thrown a pillow his way, but I did get the point. My towering rage at the dog’s bean-eating was sort of funny.
He’ll make fun of our kids if they deserve it, too. Not to their faces. But he still does it, and trust me: it’s a needed stress relief, and it’s hilarious.
My mom was right. Marry a man who will make you laugh. Because those good looks will fade. That money goes fast. Children grow up. But funny never dies.
Once in while, one of us will say to the other, referring to an event a few months before our marriage, “Remember how hard that trail was in Death Valley? Surprise Canyon?” And the other one will chortle, “SURPRISE, MOTHERFUCKER!” Which has become our personal shorthand for a job that turns out to be way, way harder than you thought it was.
Marriage is supposed to be like that. But honestly? While humor can’t fix everything, can’t soothe every hurt or fix every mad, it can smooth a multitude of sins. Love holds us together, no doubt. But it’s the laughter that truly binds us.