Pre-Marriage Counseling by Jack Christian
Seth is Anna and my pre-marriage counselor. We visit him on the first and third Tuesdays of every month, and, among other things, we talk with him about money, house-chores, and sandwiches. At the last session, Seth asked us how we could act as each other’s complements. He had us practice listening to each other’s I needstatements. He called these a good tool for our tool belts. I discussed how when I ask Anna to make me a sandwich, it’s not like I’m asking her to undo the Women’s Liberation Movement. Anna said I’m so good at being charming and teasing her that she worries I’ll always be asking for sandwiches. I said that scared me too because there was a part of me that could do that.
Talking to Seth makes our teasing seem slightly terrible. Our relationship seems anchored by how we poke fun at each other, while Seth seems positively above poking fun. He asked us, “So, what I want to know is which one of you does the dishes?” He says a thing like this, and that thing becomes ripe with symbolism. We didn’t have particularly good answers. Mostly, we wait for the other to do the dishes. We try to sweet-talk each other into making dinner. I think this is not so bad if we’re equals in doing it. I tried to say as much, but it came out to the effect that I think I do more than my share of dishes.
With that line of conversation still evaporating, we eagerly told Seth how when a bat got into our apartment, we acted as each other’s complements. When we saw it, Anna hid in the bedroom and searched the internet. I didn’t feel any need to be overly calm or heroic. Anna didn’t expect me to handle the bat with any sort of overwhelming masculinity. I screamed and ran when it flew from the kitchen into the living room. Then, I shined a flashlight in its face. That’s what the internet said to do. The internet said the level of emergency caused by a bat in an apartment is in proportion to the relative health of the bat. It seemed like a healthy bat. Holding it in the flashlight beam, I could apply most of the criteria for evaluating. The point was maybe a weird one to make to Seth. The point was the third night after we moved in together, a large brown bat flew in an open window, and then left through the same window without us doing anything.
Jack Christian is the author of the chapbook Let’s Collaborate from Magic Helicopter Press. His poems are upcoming in Web Conjunctions and have appeared recently on the web in Drunken Boat, Sixth Finch, Ink Node, I Thought I was New Here, and Cimarron Review. He is from Richmond, Virginia and now lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.