Who the eff did I marry?

22 May

This post is because, earlier this week, I did something that caused Ken to look at me with his wonderful baffled expression and say in his most astonished voice, Who are you? Now, if only I could remember what it was that I did.

I don’t care how long you dated, or how many years you lived together before hand. It doesn’t matter if you’ve known each other for a really really long time. The amount of time you’ve spent together ahead of time makes no difference. At some point in your marriage, you will look at your spouse, and say to yourself, “Who is this?!”

It’s part of a larger question: How well can we really, truly know another person? We can spend as many hours with them as possible, we can tell them every secret about ourselves, but when will we truly know each other? Can we really predict how they will act, or react, in every possible situation and scenario? Can we really know everything that’s happened in the play of their lives before we stepped on the stage?

No, no we can’t. And both my husband and I discovered this on our honeymoon.


The best part of this photo is either my wicked sunburn or the very romantic trash can.

We spent a couple days in Mazatlan, Mexico. We swam in the pool, walked along the beach, went out drinking, and I went snorkeling and busted my knee on some coral while Ken wisely stayed behind on the beach drinking rum. It turns out that, aside from drinking and swimming, there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot to do in Mazatlan. We walked around the downtown area and saw the cathedral, we signed up for a day jaunt into the mountains and countryside, and kept swimming and drinking (at the same time, thanks to the hotel’s swim-up bar).

And then came the moment. The moment of surprise, the moment of truth, the moment of brief fear as Ken worried to himself, “Who the hell did I just marry?”

The moment was the result of the culmination of several factors. 1) There’s not a lot to do in Mazatlan. 2) There’s a really sad aquarium in Mazatlan. 3) To attract visitors, the aquarium advertised “An adventure you’ll never forget!”: getting into the shark tank to feed the fish. 4) The shark tank guy spoke no English. 5) I speak no Spanish. 6) I did not understand the instructions. 7) My name [Sheilah] is not easily pronounceable in Spanish, so I told the guy my name was Cecilia. He would then say something and shout Cecilia! followed by what I assume was pay attention, for God’s sake! as I looked around for who he could possibly be addressing.

And, the culmination, the tingle of panic and fear for Ken: I got in the shark tank anyway, handing him my camera and flippantly disregarding any safety precautions and all common sense. As he watched his new wife go down into the water, Ken wondered just what, exactly, he was getting into as well.

Exhibit 1: Crazy Person.

Exhibit 1: Crazy Person.

A few days later, we were walking along the main strip in Mazatlan to try to find a restaurant, when I had my moment of “Who the hell did I just marry?” There was the requisite wonderment, surprise, and even more fear and panic. Again, the moment was brought about by several factors.

1) I do not speak Spanish and I am not half-Mexican. Ken does and is. 2) In the US, no one thinks Ken is Mexican. In Mexico, everyone thinks Ken is Mexican. 3) I decided I wanted authentic mariachi music on my honeymoon. 4) Our hotel did not offer mariachi music, but claimed a restaurant “just down the street” did. 5) We did not think it would be a long journey, so we walked instead of taking one of Mazatlan’s ubiquitous former-golf-carts-now-taxi-cabs.

As we walked northbound along the street, a paneled van heading southbound slowed as it approached us, and the sliding door on the passenger side began to open, revealing quite a few men inside. That was when Ken pushed me to the side, and angry words were exchanged in Spanish. I have no idea what was said by either party.

And when I asked my new husband “What was that all about?!” he insisted, “Oh, nothing.” Did they want to kidnap us? Did they want to give us directions? Were they a rogue mariachi band in disguise? I’ll never know. But that nonchalant “Oh, nothing” was what stood out at the time. Here I was having visions of death and despair, and was now shaking in my flip flops, while my husband was able to straighten his shoulders, move along down the road, and think nothing of it.


Exhibit 2: Crazy person.

So we both discovered a lot on that honeymoon. We explored Mazatlan and the surrounding countryside. We found out that we really like rum and Pacifico beer (separately). We learned that it takes a lot of sunscreen for me to not get sunburned, that “shark” in Spanish is “tiburon”, and that you really should take taxis everywhere.

And we found out that the person we had just married, that we had yoked ourselves to for the rest of our lives, was crazy. And no amount of dating, living together, sharing our souls with each other, had quite prepared us for that fact. I think we’re both still recovering from the shock.

So, when it happens to you, and you find yourself looking at your spouse wondering who the hell that person is, be thankful, because at least you didn’t discover it while your spouse is about to tempt death in a fiberglass cage, or defeat death at the hands of rogue mariachis.

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