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.
“It was nice. Maybe a little long. We saw The Matrix one night.”
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 not just any movie, but 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 just 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, 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 G stealthily dove into the seat. He even raised a cup of steaming coffee in a threatening manner to defend his position. Because my mom had just told me of a women who had spilled scalding coffee in her lap, rendering her unable to wear underwear for weeks, I relinquished the seat but whined, “I want to drive. This is my parent’s car. And I know how to get there.” He closed the door and muttered, “I have to drive. I get car sick if I don’t.” 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, G as the driver, and I grimly realized that having never owned or even ridden together in a car during our courtship in NYC meant that I had unwittingly married that most irritating of individuals who cites motion sickness as the reason they must get their way. On every matter.
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 asshole.”
I hung up swiftly, directing a tense smile to G. 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 4 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 endless sky with pink and yellow hues. When we arrived at the trailhead, G 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 with black hair, claiming to be an Apache, is selling them. G could not resist the siren song of the General Store. Once inside, he spent a fortnight poring over cowboy boots while I ate yellow Chiclets purporting to be Fools Gold from a mining pan. As G 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. About 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 gestured to the dipping sun out the window to G who had finally decided upon the 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 G insisted on pushing forward, determined to summit something even in the dark. 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, basking in the warmth of the sun-baked dirt, was a large tarantula.
I breathed a sigh of relief that I hadn’t vowed life-long commitment to a Chris Brown in disguise while G shouted incoherently about ‘saving my life.’ I 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, G launched into a diatribe about desert wastelands and the varied reasons the East Coast is infinitely superior to my Southwest home. He hurled insults at every Saguaro cactus in sight. I felt under attack and had grown irritable from hunger, a confluence of personality shortcomings that led me to a regrettable and impulsive act.
I kicked that tarantula at my new husband.
As G 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, illegal alien-loving motherfuckers.”
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 9pm. 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 G’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 is not at all what I imagined. This honeymoon sucks; I’d kill everyone in this restaurant 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 and pity. 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 pensively for a minute before he asked me to ride a mule down into the gorge of the Grand Canyon. I told him I’d sooner have sex with a mule than entrust my life to it on the narrow passes of the largest canyon in the world. We resumed eating our cold, slimy eggs when he said,
“Why is your brother asking me if we’ll be raising our kids Republican?”
Thanks again to The Empress for joining me here to write about honeymoons. Her story made me chuckle and cringe, which is always the best humor concoction.
Regale us with more honeymoon sucker stories. If you actually rode a horse in the sunset, take that shit elsewhere.