But as we learned earlier, he was beginning to get pieds froids, as his French friend Maurice called Howard's prenuptial trepidation.
He balked at a contract that compelled him to restrain a passion (spiritual, not sexual) too strong to be restrained, but he also fretted about more tangible issues.
|Is perfection possible in this world?|
As we've noted many times, Howard was not some prude disgusted by this time-tested, biologically-encouraged, Charlie Rose-sanctioned display of fondness, but he just didn't care much about it, didn't see the appeal, much like a native rural southerner sitting through a hockey game while visiting his in-laws in Winnipeg.
The upside of this was that Tally was tolerant of his lack of enthusiasm and usually went out of her way to keep him from feeling awkward about his many nonpreferences.
The downside is that she snickered, chuckled, giggled and snorted every time he referred to sex as "anticlimactic." Howard didn't get why that carefully selected adjective was funny, and Tally's insensitive response embarrassed and angered him.
Okay, there was just one more burr in Howard's saddle.
When he was a child, he often heard his mother say to his stepdad, "We need to talk" or "There's something I need to bring to your attention" or "I feel like you are being dismissive about my needs."
Then his dad's face would mirror the anguish of one whose favorite cat just died. When his parents left the room to have their tete a tete, as Maurice called them, his dad looked exactly like he was entering the gates of Hell.
So by the time Howard was 12, he swore he would never room with, date, abduct or certainly not marry anyone whose partnership -- in any sense of the term -- required meetings, treaties, haggling, reparations, rapprochement (yes, Maurice), compromises, persistence, owning shortcomings, contrition, apologies, forgiveness, resets, priority shifting or shopping at Sam's Club.
No, no! Howard could not bear the thought of living with Tally locked in what was little more than an oversized canary cage with central air and cable.
Somewhere on Earth, our island home with its 7.6 billion souls, surely there was one person -- perhaps in DuBuque or Louisville, who knows? -- so much in harmony with another that no such entanglements and negotiations were required.
The couple could complete each other, as if they were reunited from a more Edenic era, continuing a love that would have no end, without the haggling, without the "sandspurs in their socks,"as Howard's friend J.W. said.
Was that too much to ask?