The husband has purchased a 1995 red Jeep Wrangler with skull and crossbone decals and a giant star painted on the hood. Coincidentally, he also has begun cutting the sleeves off his workout shirts. I’m begging him to get a tattoo. “Maybe I’ll get some barbed wire tattooed around my bicep,” he said. I shivered. “You complete me,” I murmured.
Last month, we celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. This month, we celebrate 28 years of being together. I use the word “celebrate” loosely. He gave me some roses, I think, and I made him a fried egg sandwich. For real, though, my fried egg sandwiches are the bomb, especially if we have avocado in the house. I don’t eat them too often, because BREAD, but I take bites of his and they are fucking delicious. If you ever need a pick-me-up, come to my house and I will make you a fried egg sandwich. Just give me a little notice.
I’m considering the Jeep a belated anniversaries gift, and a much deserved one. Firstly, he’s been driving a mommy van for two years now – half that time with no air conditioning. Secondly, upon reflection, I realized I have made him sell every single cool car he’s ever owned.
- In 1991 we had just moved from Cape Cod to Melbourne Beach, Florida. We had driven down in my Thunderbird. After we found jobs, his sister delivered his big red Toyota truck, which was maybe a year old. His payments were half our rent. We were both journalists then, and our salaries were something between minimum wage and don’t-quite-qualify-for-food-stamps. “I can’t afford it,” he concluded after a month or so. So one weekend we sold it and he bought a Suzuki Samurai fake jeep with no roof, no radio, and no AC. It was the cheapest new car you could buy at that time – $4,999. We bought a little canvas bikini top at Sears for $200. After we moved to south Florida, he commuted 90 highway minutes each way in that vehicle. Sometimes he listened to his Walkman while he was driving. When we moved to Minnesota, we splurged on an enclosed canvas top so he wouldn’t freeze to death, and in the winter we loaded sandbags in the back to keep it from sliding on the ice. He drove that thing for five years.
- We had moved back to Florida by 1999, settling in the northeastern part of the state. Soon after we decided infertility treatment was the worst thing ever, I made a list of awesome things we could do without kids. First idea: buy a cool sports car. I found a used late model silver 3 series 2-door BMW sport with manual drive and a sunroof, and it drove like the wind. IT WAS SO FUN. It made Bob giddy. For real. Then our baby Scout came home, and it became the most impractical vehicle ever, short of a dune buggy. Trying to get the baby into the car seat became a Twister battle between a wooden octopus and a giraffe made of jello. So one Saturday we found ourselves at a Toyota dealership trading in the shiny silver Beemer for the used gold minivan we later named the Motorized Landfill. Even the salesman cried a little.
- We had bought a GMC Yukon from my mom, and when it started failing, Bob tried again for the sports car. He bought a bright red MAZDASPEED 3 hatchback with a top speed of about 1,000 mph. Damn, that thing was fast. We called it The Rocket. I drove the minivan, and Bob drove The Rocket, and he was happy. Our Starbucks barista had the same car and they compared notes on its greatness every time we stopped there. Neither of us can remember why he decided he had to sell The Rocket, but one afternoon….
- He came home after trading in the MAZDASPEED 3 and parked a bright yellow Jeep Wrangler in the driveway. He was so excited, but I looked at it dubiously. “Honey. It only has two seat belts in the back,” I said. “We have three kids.” “We can add a seat belt!” he answered excitedly. “I asked! Or we can double buckle.” Yes, he was a firefighter by this point. Eye roll emoji. And I admit it – the Jeep was fun. But when he had the kids, I had to drive it, and if it was raining, I had to put the top on by myself, which I refused to learn how to do because I’m not as nice as you think I am. He drove the Jeep for a couple of years, and then I browbeat him into getting rid of it, and he traded it in for a tiny Hyundai Accent hatchback. The Accent felt a lot like a plastic storage bin on wheels. So it was truly a gift when my dad gave me Old Blue, his 15-year-old Suburban which had survived two floods and several Chicago winters. I let Bob drive that until the Honda minivan’s AC conked out, then I made him switch. When I finally relented and sold Old Blue, we bought an awesome brand new Mazda CX5 for me, and he continued to drive the Honda minivan. We had fixed the AC by then, but the front bumper had fallen off, the rear trunk wouldn’t stay up on its own, the radio volume only worked sometimes, and the passenger side automatic slide door didn’t work at all. But Hondas last forever, right, y’all? We sold it to a nice couple for half its blue book value so I wouldn’t feel guilty about selling a lemon.
And then Bob decided he wanted a Jeep. He could not, would not be deterred. I know I could have talked him out of it. I still have that power over him. But listen, my husband works. And works. And works. I’d say he works like a dog, but I have three dogs, and they are like inanimate objects next to the husband. He’s a captain in the fire department, and on his off days he teaches paramedic students at the local community college. He routinely works overtime shifts, meaning he’s at the fire station for 48 hours straight, and he still cuts the grass at home. A lot. Because thanks to climate change, it has been raining like a mofo around here and the grass grows so fast you can see it climbing upwards. THANKS, OBAMA.
Bob deserves whatever kind of car
he wants we can afford, which of course limits us significantly. So when he spied this 1995 red Jeep Wrangler with skull and cross bone decals for sale, he went to see it, and found it hidden in some sort of survivalist jungle compound deep in the bowels of rural Northeast Florida. He knew it was the one. I said, “SOUNDS GREAT, BABY!” and yesterday we lit out for the territory, past car shells up on concrete blocks and scary junkyard dogs and burnt up trailers, and parked outside a tall metal fence with a sign that read NO SOLICITING. We already found Jesus and we know who we’re voting for, and when the Jeep owner unlocked the gate, we went inside and bought that damn Jeep.
My husband has never told me no, except for when he said in very stern language that I can’t have chickens. “I find it so hard to deny you anything,” he has told me a thousand times, which is why I’ll probably eventually get the chickens. And yet he denies himself often – almost aways because he is burdened by the traditional role of male provider, main breadwinner, man responsible for supporting his family.
I’m not sitting around eating bonbons. In fact, three months ago I renewed my commitment to healthy, clean eating and am currently obsessed with quinoa, green smoothies, and sustainably caught tuna. If I’m sitting around eating anything, it’s Siggi’s plain nonfat Greek yogurt with raw honey made from bees on vacay in the Everglades and Trader Joe’s organic roasted salted sunflower seeds. But of course I’m not sitting around. I’m teaching, writing, doing laundry, and frequently throwing food at the children. But it’s the husband who is making this whole thing work. He’s the reason we can live in this house, put clothes on our bodies, and buy Trader Joe’s organic roasted salted sunflower seeds.
So yeah, we bought him a badass antique Jeep with a red star on the hood and wheels the size of a refrigerator. Give him a thumbs up if you see/hear/feel him pull up next to you. And tell him how great he’d look with a tattoo. I love that man.