I am terrifically bad with dates.
By that, I mean calendar dates—birthdays, holidays, historical events and all other fixed points in time included. Oddly enough, I was actually decent at romantic dates, mostly because I became pretty good at turning around bad situations.
And yes, at its core, dating is a "bad situation." In one way or another, everyone on a first date feels like a perfect stranger. Awkwardness can come from anywhere, no matter how long you've known each other. Maybe you're spending one-on-one time together for the first time, having only hung out with groups before, or maybe you're just realizing that you already passed all the standard first-date conversation topics years ago.
Most times, though, I would create an additional layer of unfortunate circumstance that required expert maneuvering to make sure the first date would not be the last. It's all about perspective. Did you accidentally push your date off a swing at the park? Now you have a chance to talk about funny playground incidents from your childhood. Did you end up taking your date to see a terrible movie? Now you can both spout off jokes like a very quiet version of "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Even on my first date with my wife at the Newk's Eatery in Clinton—don't judge; it was college, and we were broke—I missed the turn-in to the restaurant parking lot. Two times.
Did I say that I was good at dates? I might have meant "rubbish." But despite all the errors that arose from me being nervous and easily embarrassed, I always tried to ensure that whomever I was on a date with had a great time, even if we both knew we weren't the best pairing after.
Since my wife and I got married in October 2013, I've come to understand a lot more about dating than I did while I was on the love battlefield that Pat Benatar sang about. And thankfully, I feel like I inadvertently got some things right.
Now, we haven't been married that long, so I certainly don't claim to be an expert on it, but I have noticed that one of the elements that I gained from my (mostly) successful first dates has also been crucial in making our marriage feel just as rewarding.
As anyone—married or not—can tell you, life is filled with less-than-fun moments. There are dishes to wash, yards to mow, clothes to put off folding and trashcans to sprint to the road when you almost miss the garbage truck. Things won't always be fun, and they won't always go smoothly. What I feel like I sometimes bring to the table in my marriage is my ability to help in those situations. I'm a naturally silly person around those who know me well. I like conducting impromptu Backstreet Boys karaoke while we do laundry and giving our dogs such distinguished nicknames as Hambone and Picklechips. And when my wife and I are sad or upset, I try to make sure neither of us stays that way for long.
While my wife is, of course, equally fun and funny, she's also gifted with something that I don't have—what I like to call "practical skills." She researches before vacations to find an awesome yet cheaper hotel, where I would probably land us in an over-priced Bates Motel, and she finds interesting things to do while we're at any destination, where I would probably wander around the city until I fall through an open manhole.
Her pragmatism also makes up for one of my most common shortcomings. As I said, I'm awful about forgetting calendar dates, and that has never been more obvious in my life than it has since I've been married. While I haven't forgotten our anniversary—though one horrible, dark day, I probably I will—I have forgotten some rather important things, including, most recently, visiting my mother-in-law for her birthday.
Yes, the title comes with negative connotations, but my mother-in-law is actually awesome and easygoing. If I told her I had decided to replace her birthday with a second Arbor Day, she'd probably be fine with it. But we like to visit her for her birthday weekend, anyway, and absentminded me, I scheduled a show for my band that weekend. My wife had even put it on Google Calendar, which syncs up our events so that I don't forget things like this. And I still forgot.
It's a perpetual problem—one that I never seem to learn from—and yet, instead of just shaking her head at my forgetfulness and making me tattoo my day planner to my arm, my wife is always quick to understand and come up with an obvious solution.
"Well, that's a big show, so I don't want you to miss it," she said. "Why don't we just go this weekend instead? That way, we can take my mom to see 'Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.'"
I tell you this because I think that's a great example of what makes my wife and I work so well together and what makes us a good team.
I'm sure this isn't news to anyone, but we all have areas in which we excel and areas in which we falter. Perhaps more than any other holiday, Valentine's Day is about celebrating solid couples—matches that make the most of our strengths and help to cover up our weaknesses. We all need that kind of relationship in every facet of our lives—not just the romantic portions—and that definitely includes our daily lives in Jackson.
The best thing about that is that we already see this happening. As I mentioned in one entry on the JFP Music Blog, there were some fantastic examples of unlikely but brilliant pairings to be found in the first-ever Jackson Indie Music Week recently. I loved getting to watch performers that I hadn't heard of before and learning more about how the local music industry is faring these days. But more than that, I liked seeing people network, build each other up and work together toward achieving a common goal. Jackson singer-songwriters spoke with Jackson venue owners to find out what they looked for in show inquiries. Jackson hip-hop artists spoke with Jackson music producers to find out how they can improve their backing tracks in live performances.
Why should we not see the same variety of collaborations take place between more locally owned businesses, between our other entertainers and artists and between City of Jackson officials? If you want to start accomplishing great things in and for Jackson, a good first step is to meet your match.
Music Editor Micah Smith is married to a great lady, has two dog-children named Kirby and Zelda, and plays in the band Empty Atlas. Send gig info to firstname.lastname@example.org.