18 things I’ve learned in 18 years of marriage

Today is my 18th wedding anniversary. In honor of our union / in a coincidental bit of publishing schedule good fortune, today is also the day that McSweeney's published a list Jordan and I wrote, called Thoughts on Marriage From a Couple Who Have Been Married for 18 Years. I hope you enjoy it. (For … Continue reading 18 things I’ve learned in 18 years of marriage

A story about buttering bread and learning to ask “why?”

We were in high school, young and in love, and my parents had invited us to join them for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant in Washington, DC.

As we waited for our meals to arrive, we all started to help ourselves to the bread basket sitting in the middle of the table. Jordan began smoothing butter across the slice of bread he'd selected.

"Jordan," one of my parents said (I can't remember which one). "That's not the way to butter bread."

"Sorry — what?"

"The way you're doing it, putting all the butter on at once. It's more polite to tear off a piece at a time and butter each piece — like this," my parent showed him.

Jordan looked around like he might be on an episode of Candid Camera — like, "Was this shit for real?" — and then proceeded to ask a very reasonable question: "Why?"

Now, I say this was a reasonable question, and it was. You might also argue that it was an obvious one. And you might wonder, now that you find yourself thinking about it, why anyone would ever go along with a prescribed way of applying butter to bread without asking why.

It had never occurred to me to ask why.

There are certain things that happen in your life, and from that point forward, you think, always, in terms of "before" and "after." For me, this moment — the moment with the buttering of the bread — was one of those moments.