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Friday, May 20, 2011

This Post Is About Sex

Actually, it's not about sex. I just thought I would put that as a title to try to get more people to read the post. Call it marketing.

What this post is about is surprises, and I suppose the only way surprises could really be related to sex is the charge facing Julian Assange, which is "Sex by Surprise," which sounds like it could be the title of a Neil Diamond album.

(Fortunately, it isn't.)

As I write these words (5:43pm, Thursday) my wife is planning on taking me somewhere special for dinner. I'm not quite sure why, of all nights, we're going out for dinner somewhere special. I don't think May 19th is some sort of event in our history together. If it is, I'm going to be in the shit. But I don't think it is. I don't think she has some kind of good-for-one-night-only coupon to Applebees or something. We're way too uppity for that shit.

Nevertheless, Mrs. Apron texted me while I was at work with a rather cryptic message, stating, "I have an awesome idea for something you really would like to do tonight. It involves food, no carabiners, and no harnesses. Lots of vaseline and ropes, though."

I think she's kidding about that last part. But, just in case she's not, I've got our vinyl facemasks with the zipper mouth openings tucked away in the glovebox. The mention of "carabiners and harnesses" is a not-so-subtle reference to the surprise my wife planned for my birthday which was...

(Drumroll, please...)

Indoor rock wall-climbing.


I figured out where she was taking me the night before it was scheduled to happen.

Me: "What am I supposed to wear to this alleged surprise?" I asked my bride.

Her: "Um... comfortable clothing..."

Me: "Okay. What about on my feet?"


Her: "Sneakers."


Me: "Are we going rock-climbing?"

(She looked at me.)

Her: "Yes." (Pause. Cue Mrs. Apron tears.) "You don't want to go, do you?" she whimpered.

Truthfully, she was right, and she knew she was right. I didn't want to go. Why the fuck would I want to go? What about my personality, my fears, my proclivities, my preferences, my tendencies, my interests, my frail sanity would make anyone think I would want to strap myself to a harness and climb up a fucking wall and then come down, only to have to do it again?

I wanted to flip out at her and ask her that very question, but, instead, I sucked it up, because the woman I loved was crying pre-emptively because she knew she had disappointed me, and so I did what I had to do and I said,

"I do want to go." And I plugged the dam. Frankly, I don't think she believed me, but it was enough to quell the tears, and it sealed the deal. The next day, I was going indoor rock-wall climbing.


I didn't really enjoy myself. Surprise. I was way too preoccupied with judging the speed (or lack thereof) with which I acclimated myself to the harness, knot-tying, and (to me) complex instructions delivered in a rote fashion by the staff member at the rock wall gym. When I was the climber, it was no problem. In spite of my predictable fear of heights, I zoomed up the fucking wall-- aided in that vertical venture by my monkey arms and legs. It was when I was the belayer, responsible for the safety of the woman I love more than anything in the world, that I freaked out inside, sweating like a bastard, hands trembling as I clutched onto the rope and the break for dear life, absolutely panic-stricken that something stupid I would do would send my beautiful Mrs. Apron plummeting to earth, damaging her skull and our marriage.

Fortunately, none of the various disaster scenarios I violently and graphically saw in my head throughout the afternoon came to pass, and, after three hours, we were sitting together, bathed in steep sunlight at a sidewalk café, she enjoying a veggie-burger, me plowing into fried clams and cuban-style egg rolls. Which was definitely more my speed.

Surprises are funny, you know-- rather like sex, I suppose. You build them up, trying to discern what the other person is going to like, and sometimes you get so wrapped up in thinking about it and planning it and obsessing over it, you forget just a little bit about what you're doing (or why you're doing it) in the first place. But, even when they're not quite what you wanted or expected, surprises generally turn out just fine.

You know, like sex.

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