A marriage, just like Congress, should be about compromises
By Petula Dvorak,
It’s not so much a philosophical issue with the Grand Slam. Or a quibble with the basic theory behind Moons Over My Hammy.
The whole idea of the diner — not just Denny’s in particular — is what I hate.
Then, in a Matalin/Carville, Montague/Capulet sort of twist, I married a diner lover. Hence, the Denny’s birthday.
It’s now an annual event. And last week, on my husband’s birthday, I cleared my calendar, stuffed my objections and prepared for the yearly greasefest.
He was bummed that they yanked the Maple Bacon Ice Cream Sundae off the menu. The free birthday Grand Slam made him happy, though.
That diner smell of dollar bills, bad coffee, bacon grease and maple syrup still makes me sad.
My mom worked in one for decades. I hung out at the counter with coloring books, waiting for her shift to end. I remember how terrible it felt watching her customers order her around and how tired she was at the end of the day.
Then I slung hash in high school and college, doing the 5 a.m. shift on spring break while my dorm mates went to Mazatlan. Hey, tips pay the rent.
I didn’t want anything to do with diners as soon as I could escape them.
My husband, on the other hand, had his picture displayed by the cash register on the wall of Paul’s Coffee Shop denoting his favorite customer status as a high-schooler.
So on my big day? We’re going to sushi, Steakboy!
Ah, the things we do to make a mixed marriage work.
My husband and I are not alone. A friend of mine who works as a pastry chef in the White House kitchen said her Venus/Mars sacrifice is a painful one.
“Box cake mix. And canned frosting. That’s what he wants. Every year,” she said, visibly shuddering. She begs him each year to let her bake him the kind of dreamy creations she has made for world leaders. But nope.
“That’s what he had as a child and what he wants every year,” she said.
Duncan Hines, like putting Crayola washable markers in the hands of Monet.
Or take my friend who gets seasick just looking at a Carnival cruise line advert. She dutifully sets sail on her husband’s premarital sailboat every birthday, loaded on Dramamine.
We see it all the time, this kind of compromise, in successful, long-lasting relationships.
Maybe not in Congress, though.
According to the portrait that Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) painted of a highly polarized Congress in his concession speech after last week’s primary, Republicans risk excommunication should they even consider a Grand Slam. Democrats couldn’t even say the word “fish stick.” Nothing can work when two sides become so entrenched. That marriage has been totally dysfunctional for a while.
When it comes to American marriages, which are at a record low, compromise may be a lost art too.
Marriage today — only 51 percent of Americans 18 and older were married in a 2010 Pew Research Center survey — is more about the poufery of a wedding, Kardashian-style, than the work that goes into making it last.
Sometimes, it’s amazing that the same-sex population even wants in on this crumbling institution. Perhaps, after all the compromises and adversity they’ve had to endure over the years, same-sex couples will be the ones to elevate it.
It’s all about opening your heart to new things, acceptance and sacrifice.
I gotta tell you, I’ve learned that Denny’s makes a decent egg-white omelet. And really, there’s just no way to match the passion of the legless man sitting in a wheelchair next to us, singing “Superfly” to the Muzak, then “Happy Birthday” to my husband. That guy’s not at the sushi bar.
And there’s nothing wrong with a $15 dinner bill, either.
E-mail or tweet me your examples of a relationship compromise at or @petulad on Twitter. To read my previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/