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July 04, 2006

My Husband's Bottle Rocket

By Sarah

The best Fourth of July I spent was a few years ago when we were visited by my in laws - the ones who aren't speaking to me thanks to THE SECRET LIVES OF FORTUNATE WIVES. Secret_lives They came from Ohio, my brother-in-law, his gorgeous wife and their three equally gorgeous children, with a wooden trunk filled with fireworks. Real fireworks. The kind you bought on the state border for gazillions of dollars. The kind that sent you to the emergency room.

There were the Roman candles, of course. But those were just the appetizers. As the night wore on and the wine flowed, the fireworks became more extreme. We have a large back yard so there was lots of room for dangerous rockets. Actually, there is nothing behind us but fields, a woods, a stream and a mountain, so we were reckless. Neighbors gathered, concerned and curious. We shared our cheese and crackers, chips and salsa, the beer, the sodas, the wine, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, watermelon and, yes, the fireworks late into the night. But it didn't stop there.

The next day my husband, Charlie, had a challenge. Hang a sheet (why a sheet?) and fire rockets into it. I vaguely remember a zip line being involved and hurrying after my then young son who, being naturally cautious and wise, hung back on his own. I think there was gasoline on the sheet, more bottle rockets and more explosions. Surely the fire marshal would call. Nope. And, miraculously, no one was injured though our field will be forever scarred.

This year, my husband and son are gone. I have only my daughter who has endured a 4,000-mile criss-cross trip across the Mid Atlantic with her mother promoting THE CINDERELLA PACT. The_cinderella_pact_2 It is a totally different scene. There are no men with bottle rockets or gasoline-soaked sheets. Instead, there is simply us. Mother and Daughter. And Buffy.

Life without men is a strange experience. For the first week after Charlie left taking our son Sam on a wild west camping experience that I prefer not to think about, considering they are in a canyon and unreachable until Wednesday, I slept like a log. Dead to the world. Even with all the worry about how THE CINDERELLA PACT would fare, I was out like a light. What did this mean? That I slept better without my husband? That I was more at peace as a single woman?

Then, of course, there was the noise. Or lack of it. Anna and I spend our days reading chick lit, gardening, sleeping and eating light food like veggie burgers and fruit salad. We barely raise our voices. We rent films we've wanted to see but that Charlie and Sam, being total Lord of the Rings freaks, can't abide: Pride and Prejudice. Sense and Sensibility. Much Ado About Nothing. A Room With a View. Gone with the Wind.

Charlie hates Gone with the Wind because he thinks it mythologizes slavery. Anna and I don't see that, perhaps because we've read the book. We see a story about a woman who, had she been born in a more feminist era, might have not been such a jerk. We hate Sue Ellen. Anna doesn't get Rhett, though I do. Maybe that's a woman vs. a girl thing.

This is life without men and it - sucks. I miss them. Actually, as much as I love my son, and I LOVE my son, it's him I miss. My husband.

It's not that I worry the furnace will shut down - as it keeps threatening to do. Or that I had to mow the lawn myself with the walk-behind (remember that yard) because I'm too chicken to use the riding mower. Or that he's not there to energize me. Charlie has lots of energy. Too much, sometimes. There's always a project. Wood to chop. A wall to take down. Maple syrup to make. Some hole to dig. And it would have been nice to have him around when those first sales numbers for THE CINDERELLA PACT came in, but he was on the Green River and still doesn't know that preliminary reports indicate this book is a success.

No, I'm ashamed to admit what I really miss - the sex. There, I said it. My German background and Yankee mother's ghost be damned.

I guess I'd always assumed that middle-aged sex would be just that. Wednesday and Saturday nights on schedule. A quick been there done that. But after seventeen years of marriage, sex is an entity of its own. I'd say it's spiritual, meaningful, but I would be lying through my teeth. It's raw lust.

Sex after two kids, applying for a mortgage, mopping up water in a basement, paying property taxes, enduring home renovations and lots of gray days is better than when we were in our twenties and couldn't wait to rip off each other's clothes. It's the bomb.

It's a gift. It's what gets you beyond the arguments about bills or the shirts that weren't cleaned properly or the socks on the floor. Middle-aged sex is ageless. You're twenty again. Hell, you're eighteen. You remember that uncontrollable force that brought you together. You forget the kids, the boss, the questionable smell in the garage. It is a tremendously uncelebrated phenomenon. It's a goddamn miracle - especially considering I'm hardly the shape I was in at twenty six when I was a not-so-blushing bride.

So, if on this Independence Day you're middle aged and not so independent, I say, don't bemoan it. Embrace it. Or, rather, him or her. Send up some fireworks of your own. Hell, we're over the hump, but we're not dead. Not by a long shot.

As for me, I'm waiting for Charlie to bring home his own bottle rocket. And trying not too hard to think about Mr. Darcy.

Happy Fourth!!



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Sarah, you just crack me up.

My husband and I are alone for a few days for the first time in quite a while, in between the comings and goings of our kids. I have to say it's nice, and our 12 years of marriage haven't dwindled things down to boredom. Comfort, yes. Familiarity, yes. We certainly want to please each other, but thank goodness no longer feel like we have to IMPRESS each other. Makes things much more fun all around.

I hope your kids have something to occupy themselves the first day or so after the boys come home. :)


First of all, on behalf of all married couples who are inspired to set some things off today, thank you.

Now - take Laura's advice and make plans for your daughter to take your son to an all-day movie marathon or something as soon as the guys return.

In the mean time, this sounds like the perfect inspiration for some writing, eh?

GREAT post!!

I'm that there is still some use for a guy this 2006.

Great post, Sarah, and Happy 4th to you, too!

This is off-topic, I know, but I want to tell you that I just finished THE CINDERELLA PACT, and it was just wonderful. I loved it, loved it, loved it. Nola, Nancy, and Deb were so real. I think there are lots of women like me in the world who will identify with, and be inspired by them. And I have to say, I got a real kick out of finding not only Bubbles, but Harley, in the book, LOL! You did a phenomenal job on this, girl, and I'm thrilled to hear it's doing well. Thanks for a great read.

Jeez, Sarah, now you've got ME hot for Charlie!

Hot for Charlie would be a good name for a band.

Charlie's not a bad-looking guy, but before this, all we read here was that he enjoyed, well, being serviced. Nice to see that he returns the favor, more or less.

Okay, being someone who's only been married for 4 years (even though we have a five year old...whoops...) it's gratifying to hear that, contrary to popular belief, spontaneous, mind-blowing monkey sex does NOT end when you hit your forties!

Damn. It's awesome now...better will probably kill me!

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