By Maria Lagalante Schulz
For the last couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of articles about love and relationships in the news. The one that caught my attention was called, “What are your Dealbreakers?” in The New York Times: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/what-are-your-relationship-deal-breakers/?emc=eta1
It was based on surveys from e-Harmony users on their “Must Haves” and “Can’t Stands.”
The “Must-Haves” for both men and women included a sense of humor, loyalty, intelligence, good communication skills, and chemistry. Men wanted passion while women wanted someone devoted to family life.
The “Can’t Stands” for both men and women included lying, cheating, infidelity, drug use, rudeness, laziness, and bad hygiene. Women ranked racism as a high “can’t stand” while men ranked “excessive overweight.”
Now, I was wondering: who does ask for a lazy, selfish, cheating slob with no job, no prospects, and no sense of humor—and who also hasn’t had a bath since kindergarten? What person is going to honestly check off boxes that show their true character?
[ ] Excessively overweight
[ ] Really bad b.o.
[ ] No people skills
[ ] Hobbies include cross burning and swastika painting
[ ] Hates family (especially yours)
[ ] Serial killer (but only on weekends)
It made me think about my own “Must Haves” and “Can’t Stands.” Here, in no particular order, are the important traits that I feel I must have in a soul mate.
1) LOYAL: Will watch Moonstruck with me, even though we’ve seen it at least 147 times
2) SENSITIVE: Must like dogs. Yes, just like the movie. If you think that dogs are awful, keep walking.
3) SENSE OF HUMOR: Can make me laugh so hard I shoot soda out of my nose
4) STRONG CHARACTER: Remembers exactly where he was when John Lennon got shot
5) INTELLIGENT: Still laughs at family parties when he hears stories that we’ve told a million times before
6) REFINED: Appreciates the finer things in life, like White Castle at 2 am
7) KIND: Willing to try my experimental cooking, despite my warnings that we might have to abort the mission
8) GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS: when I tell him that I’m going to kill the dog if she doesn’t stop waking me every hour on the hour as I try to sleep, he says, “Okay.”
9) STRONG FAMILY TIES: willing to show our girls how to swing a bat, serve a volleyball or shoot a 3-pointer in the back yard. Can play “toothpaste” with the best of them in the swimming pool. Knows how to make a mean volcano for Science class.
10) UNDERSTANDING: doesn’t mind my fascination with James Garner, cooking shows, or my fear of blood and guts.
Likewise, here are my “Can’t Stands,” in no particular order:
2) CHEATING: don’t you dare look at the back of the “Clue” card when I leave the room. That’s just wrong.
3) NO SENSE OF HISTORY: not only doesn’t know where he was when John Lennon got shot, but his favorite Beatle is a ladybug.
4) DOESN’T FIND MY FAMILY HILARIOUS: again, that’s just wrong.
5) PETTY: keeps bringing up the fact that I ate the last Mallomar in 1984.
6) NO COMMUNICATION SKILLS: as I finish telling him my greatest fear or triumph, he replies with “I could go for a burrito.”
7) MEAN: refuses to eat anything I cook. And that includes the good stuff.
8) DUMB: sits with his arms crossed at family gatherings and says things like “You know, I’ve heard this story before.” No kidding? Do you think I haven’t heard the story about how your mother used to hit you with a shoe? That one isn’t even funny.
9) BAD HYGIENE: in this day and age, if you can’t manage to stand in a shower, lather, rinse and repeat, there is no hope for you.
10) DOESN’T WATCH TV: (not even Sesame Street). He’s too busy reading Beowulf (in Olde English–again), yelling out lines he thinks are funny that I can’t understand, or listening to it on Books on Tape. We have nothing to talk about.
I am lucky to have found my husband, although he does eat all the Cheetos sometimes. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about love, you’ve just got to forgive. And hide the Cheetos.
Speaking of forgiveness and Valentine’s Day got me to thinking about some Valentine “firsts” in my own life, which are funny now that I’m not right smack dab in the middle of them.
First High School crush: a boy who perfected the art of the mixed signal. I would spend four years wondering why he would ask me to come roller skating every Friday night, give me gifts like Supertramp’s 45 of The Logical Song/The Long Way Home, or flowers on Valentine’s Day, but never, ever ask me out.
It could have something to do with the fact that he said something once that my brother Joey thought was disrespectful. “Take that back,” my brother said. When the boy refused, my brother tore off after him.
I’m sure that the boy never thought someone so large and muscular could run that fast. Lucky for him, his years as a tennis player gave him the aerobic capacity to run farther and faster than my brother, who finally gave up a mile or two later.
First flowers: In 10th grade, I sat in front of a boy who was best friends with my first high school crush. When I walked through the door holding flowers the Friday before Valentine’s Day (which fell on a Sunday that year), he looked upset.
“Who gave you those flowers?” he said to me.
Since I was totally clueless and had no idea that I was his first High School crush, I replied, “Your buddy. Why? Are you sorry that you didn’t?”
Well, that Sunday, as I sat eating spaghetti and meatballs with my parents, brothers, grandmother and uncles, there was a knock on the front door. My mom got up to answer it, and came back in with an enormous bouquet of flowers.
“I didn’t buy her flowers,” my father replied.
“No, they’re for Maria,” my mother replied.
Every head turned towards me as I almost choked on my spaghetti. “For me?” I said.
I took the bouquet, which was really quite beautiful, and read the card. It said, “for someone nice to know, and even nicer to be with.”
My brother’s fiancé, Kathie, began to explain the significance of the flowers. “There’s a yellow one, and that means he’s your friend. But there’s also a red one, which signifies love.”
Love? Who said anything about love? I considered myself kind of taken by James Garner, so I wasn’t sure I could go down this road.
I really doubted my classmate meant to convey love, or that he knew what the significance of any of the flowers meant at all. But instead of being thrilled, I was terrified.
Up to this point, the boy I liked dated everybody but me. There was safety there. And despite my fascination with James Garner, I was pretty sure he would never call either. I wasn’t really ready for all the headaches and hassles that seemed to go along with dating. I knew this in my heart, but had no idea how to convey this information to my admirer in a nice way. I completely botched it!
Nothing ever came of that first Valentine’s dilemma. He was a really nice person, but I guess the timing was not right. But now I am bracing myself for the first Valentine’s bouquet that comes here for my girls. I can only hope they respond better than I did.
First broken heart: from a boy who dumped me because he said he was “changing,” much like Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I was wondering what those antennae were all about.
Favorite Valentine’s/Romance movies:
2) You’ve Got Mail
3) When Harry Met Sally
4) Sleepless in Seattle
5) The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
6) Murphy’s Romance
7) Pride & Prejudice
9) Shakespeare In Love
10) A Fish Called Wanda
11) The Last of the Mohicans
13) Beauty and the Beast
14) Mansfield Park (1999 version)
Finally, I loved this article in The New York Times titled “When Love Outgrows Gifts for Valentine’s Day.” It talks about the secrets of success of couples that have been married for many years, including one couple that has been married for over 70 years.
The other night, I used a leftover ham to make something a little different for my husband and kids. As it was cooking, I told my husband that “we might have to abort” because I wasn’t sure if it would all work out all right. It did, so here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
3 or 4 cups cubed ham
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 bag frozen broccoli
1 can mushrooms
6 Red Bliss potatoes
1 bag shredded, reduced fat cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons low fat sour cream
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
Place red bliss potatoes in a pot of cold water and set heat to medium high. Bring to a boil and and leave them there for about ½ hour.
While the potatoes boil, place olive oil in hot pan and cook onions and garlic. When they are golden brown, add ham and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Drain off fat.
Add cream of mushroom soup and milk. Reduce, then add sour cream. Season with pepper to taste. Throw in your frozen broccoli and let everything cook together for about 5-7 minutes.
Remove potatoes from boiling water and slice as thinly as you can.
Spray a casserole dish with Pam. Layer the potatoes on the bottom and pour the mixture on. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
Place in a 350 degree oven for about ½ hour, or until golden brown. Serve and enjoy.
I also made biscuits with this, which goes great with the sauce.
Since there’s a lot of salt in the soup and the ham, adjust the amount you add to suit your own taste.
You can also make this dish vegetarian by omitting the ham and using a “meaty” vegetable like Portobello mushrooms in its place.
So, hungry lifers…do you have any special Valentine’s Day stories you want to share? What’s your favorite romantic movie or recipe? Leave a comment and let us in on the fun.