Cleaving: The Story of a Marriage

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Today my Grandparents are celebrating their 63rd Anniversary, and I wanted to do a special blog entry in honor of that. Please indulge me for a moment dear readers as I share pictures of people you've never even met. Here are my Grandparents on their wedding day, April 21, 1946.

It's so weird for me to see their wedding picture in black-and-white because I grew up looking at the colorized version - the badly colorized version - of this picture that used to hang in my Grandparent's basement. The color was so weird that I used to stand there and wonder Why is Grandpa wearing make-up in that picture.

I never saw a colorized version of the second picture, so I had to consult with my grandmother to find out what color the bridesmaid's dress was, she said it was green. Then I asked my Grandpa to confirm that since Grandma's memory can get a little sketchy sometimes and he said, "Could have been." That was pretty much his standard answer for every question I had. I asked them where they got engaged. Grandma said, "At the fair," and Grandpa said, "It's possible." I didn't even bother asking him how they met, and instead consulted with my Grandma who informed me that they met as children at a Halloween party in which my Grandpa was dressed up as a girl, and she says she remembers this so vividly because she thought he "made the prettiest girl." Make of that what you will dear readers. It's certainly not the stuff of a romance novel, but at least it's honest.

I attempted to get more information about their marriage from her, but most of the stories seemed to revolve around some Lucy Ricardo type escapade, the most vivid example being when she accidentally set herself on fire and she and Grandpa discovered that the "stop, drop, and roll" technique really does work. Other family members chimed in which stories of Grandpa having to acquire a tractor to set Grandma's car back up again after she accidentally tipped it over, how they didn't have indoor plumbing for the first three years of their marriage (how very Little House on the Prairie), and of one of their babies accidentally getting drunk because they left him unsupervised with what they believed were empty beer bottles (what great parenting.)

Now on to today's book:

Here's the description from the back cover, "Told in the authors' alternating voices, Cleaving is both the story and the understory of a marriage, unique in its particulars but universal in its resonance."

First things first, the word cleaving is definitely going on my list of least favorite words, right along with moist, squat, lady, and purse. There's just something so unappealing about the sound of that word. If I hadn't been looking for a book that related to the topic of marriage I think I would have skipped this book entirely based on the title and the unattractive. I don't understand why some publishing companies can't seem to grasp that some of us are really shallow, and we need a good cover and a decent title to make us pick up the book in the first place.

But, I pushed aside my reservations, telling myself The book is on the subject of marriage, this will be perfect for today. Whoops. As is turns out the book isn't exactly about a stable marriage. For those of you who don't want to waste the time reading this book (and I would strongly advise that you not), here's the book in a nutshell: The authors drink a lot, write a lot, and cheat on each other a lot. About the nicest thing I can say about it is that it's a very honest book.

I did learn one random fact that you can impress people with at parties, or cause them to make fun of you in the car on the way home (depending on what kind of crowd it is): The largest Amish community in the country is located such south of Wooster, Ohio. I'm just thankful that I don't live anywhere near that. After my 45 minutes of being lost in the Amish community near where I live I'm thankful that there were only a couple of dirt roads to desperately circle around. And now, here's your helpful hint for the day dear readers: If you ever get lost in an Amish community, and you get really bored from passing the same barn over and over again, you can distract yourself from your boredom by trying to figure out what your family would be like if you were all Amish. Which family member would be the first to get shunned? Which one would drive you the craziest if you all had to live together in one of those houses that has 17 additions to it? Who would look the best in a bonnet? It passes the time, and will distract you enough that you won't end up getting angry in front of those delightfully wholesome Amish people and accidentally teach them a few words that aren't exactly Biblical.