Husbands and Wives


Our Daily Correspondent


One soon learns the point of a modern honeymoon. In this day and age, when most couples don’t need the time to become acquainted, it can seem like pure indulgence: a well-earned rest after the interpersonal stresses of wedding planning, and the rare chance to see each other without the intrusion of family and social demands. All very wholesome, I’m sure—but not lasting.

Long after you’re home and your muscles have reclenched with tension and those lotus-eating vacation days feel like a hazy memory, you will carry with you the honeymoon’s true legacy. (I don’t mean a baby, by the way—though that, too, I guess, is a legacy for some.) Because by the end of your honeymoon, be it a week or a month or a day, whether you’re in the tropics or Niagara Falls or a nearby motel, you will have a husband. Or a wife.

It begins immediately. “Mrs. Stein?” They ask at the hotel. And there’s no point in giggling and being coy and saying, “Wow! That sounds weird!” because, well, they don’t care. It’s like a crash course, or some kind of super-accelerated basic training.

Then it comes thick and fast. “My husband’s just behind me!” you breathlessly tell a gate agent so she’ll let him on a plane.

“My husband will be joining me shortly.”

“Did my husband already settle up?”

“Yes, that’s my husband’s bag.”

“My wife has a tick on her leg. Do you have a matchbook?”

“Oh, I just have a tick on my leg—I’m waiting for my husband to burn its head.”

“The match didn’t work. My wife still has a tick on her leg—what do you recommend?”

“Yes, I’m the one with the tick. We accidentally killed the tick with the matches and the VapoRub, but then my husband pulled it out with tweezers. Thank you, I’ll look out for the bull’s-eye.”

Soon, it becomes—if not natural, at least easy. In point of fact it is easier: one never felt a plane would wait for a mere boyfriend, or a friend, let alone a fiancé. (I hope they’d leave a fiancé behind on principle, gnashing his stupid fiancé teeth.) But now! Now a city clerk has spent thirty seconds solemnizing our union and what happens if he doesn’t make that plane?! Anarchy, that’s what.

“I’ll hold the gate,” the agent says.

The tick head embedded in your thigh does a dignified victory dance. It has never been on a plane.

Sadie Stein is contributing editor of The Paris Review, and the Daily’s correspondent.