Last weekend as the movie theater lights dimmed, the previews began, and the music blared, my husband and I looked at each other, nodded, and turned back to watch the screen. With a large popcorn bucket precariously balanced between our two seats, we looked like any other couple ready to sit back, share a snack, and enjoy one of the Oscar-nominated movies. But unbeknownst to everyone around us, we were not just like any other couple. We were a couple firmly entrenched in a never-ending clash of wills that first began twenty-three years ago on one of our first dates.
It was 1991. My love for my husband-to-be (HTB) was even bigger than my hair. We were seeing our first movie together: City Slickers. As we settled into our seats with a large bucket of popcorn between us, suddenly everything I thought I knew about my HTB flew out the door of the movie theater.
As the lights dimmed, the previews began, and the music blared, I turned to look at my HTB, smiled, and daintily placed my fingers in the popcorn bucket. As I placed three kernels of corn into my mouth and turned back to the screen, I heard a strange noise. Intrigued, I looked at my HTB who had suddenly transformed into a less furry version of Cookie Monster. As he stuck his hand back in the popcorn bucket, pulled out a handful, and shoved it all in his mouth at once, I swear I heard him say, “Num, num, num.” I looked down at the bucket. Half the popcorn was gone already. How did this happen? I frantically grabbed three more kernels and popped them in my mouth. He grabbed a handful and shoved thirty-five kernels in his mouth. Three. Fifty. Three. Seventy-five. In a matter of minutes, my husband had devoured nearly the entire bucket of popcorn. My stomach rumbled. He patted his stomach, leaned over, and whispered, “I’m stuffed, how about you?”
Fast forward twenty-three years to a dark movie theater. It was 2014 and my love for my husband was still big, even though my hair wasn’t. During all those years, we had become used to sharing most everything with each other: a checking account, countless bars of soap, and even a toothbrush on one memorable camping trip when I forgot my own. But when it came to popcorn … well, let’s just say that was still a work in progress.
As I daintily placed my fingers in the popcorn bucket, pulled out three kernels, and popped them in my mouth, I heard my husband’s hand enter the bucket. I may be older, but thankfully, I still have my hearing, cat-like reflexes, and peripheral vision. Before he could blink an eye, I grabbed his hand, which was full of popcorn, and shook it until just three kernels remained between two fingers. I smiled. His stomach rumbled. Then we laughed together because both of us knew that although he hadn’t changed his popcorn eating habits since that date long ago, one thing had: the movie theater now offered free popcorn refills.
Twenty-three years ago, I was a little more googly-eyed when it came to love. Although age brings things we don’t really want like aching joints, reading glasses, and hair in places that shouldn’t have hair, I like to think that age also brings wisdom about relationships and what is really important in life.
One day, I imagine my husband and I will be happily spending our days rocking on our front porch talking about our grandchildren, our doctor’s appointments, and where we think we left our reading glasses last. As the afternoon turns into dusk, I’ll ask him,”Do you want me to make some popcorn?” and he’ll answer, “Go find my teeth, honey.” Moments later, I’ll scoot my rocker next to his, place the bowl between us, and turn to look at him, knowing it’s not about how small or big our handfuls are, but that we are still sharing a bowl of popcorn after all these years. Then, I’ll eat three kernels, he’ll eat thirty-five, and we’ll laugh just like always have while the world goes by.