marriage or an affair?


We all have lots of opportunities to consider whether a situation will be short-term or long. Maybe it’s a relationship or an investment of time and energy or a significant purchase.

Will it be right for a week, a month, a season, a lifetime?

Or just a couple of drinks.

In other words -- is it a marriage or an affair?

Good to know what criteria to apply.   

For example, a house. You'll probably sleep there a few good years, maybe even with the same person, so deciding based on “I just love it” is foolhardy, especially if it’s 30 miles from Starbucks, Wegmans and Nordstrom.  

Yet . . . isn’t loving something in that wild and silly way the thing that puts the pop in your step, the glow in your sallow cheeks?

And if you’re past the age when your cheeks glow, can you recapture that burst of bold abandon in the everyday meanderings of what to eat for dinner?

This past week, I posed that question -- affair or marriage -- concerning two big items, a couch and a car. I also asked it about designer jeans but everyone knows long-loving blues are harder to snag than a lifelong mate.  

But many purchases cause nearly as much distress, which could be solved by asking, “Will this be a final passage on the road of life or only a passing fancy?”

To figure it out, I wrote two lists. They cover everything that can be bought but Q-tips. Use and dispose is clearly an affair.




Wash ‘n wear

People generally not shocked

Sort of matches with everything

Could lead to pain and suffering

Affair/ Romance /Allegedly Dating:



Might embarrass me

Might shock people

Probably doesn’t match

Get out easy

With these ideas in mind, I go couch shopping. I figure beige, better known as the color no one sees, is a good idea. It’s flexible, people won’t be horrified, it matches everything.

Or I could go with neon orange. Flashy, exciting, the boost in youthful riskiness could be worth it, and in a pinch there’s always Craigslist. Maybe, I realize, it’s a long engagement, something in between. I think perhaps beige with neon pillows.

How about the car? The sturdy, comfortable one, or the speedy, jazzy one with the flat seat and hard headrest? Will its novelty fade with each bump on the noggin? Or will the joy of being in my affair zone thrill me even if my butt hurts and I have a faint headache?

I try to get clear about what’s what.

Sandals, an affair. Hiking boots, a marriage, it takes a long time to break them in. Travel, an affair, there’s always the next time. A dress for a wedding, a marriage, the pictures won’t go away. Nail polish, an affair, a good place to go crazy . A classic black coat, a marriage, a long engagement if you add a red scarf. Tickets to the theater, an affair, you can always skip out at intermission. A midriff top, a one-nighter. A small handbag, a one-nighter. A big roomy satchel with space for a water bottle, antacids, lunch, a change of clothes, a Home Depot return -- definitely a marriage with children.

Back to the car conundrum. It’s not like it’s an arm or a leg, an old family expression. Yet it’s more than an affair, less than a marriage.

And it dawns on me -- could I get it all? Throw caution to the wind but avoid the pain and suffering if it doesn’t work out. Get the flashy car, have the wild affair, but not marry it. A little risk with a little wash ‘n wear then consign it like blue jeans.

Did somebody say “lease?”

May 16, 2018

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