Value Speak – by Joseph B. Walker


I can relate to Kim Kardashian.

No, really. I can.

Aside from the fact that I’m a 56-year-old, slightly frumpy (OK, more than slightly), conservative male who never stepped on a red carpet in his life, I can totally understand what she went through.

Forget that I don’t know a single detail of her marriage other than the fact that she married a professional basketball player named Kris Humphries (who obviously didn’t have anything else to do last year, what with the NBA lockout and everything) and the marriage only lasted 72 days. Forget that I’ve never watched a minute of any of her family’s multiple television programs on the E! (soon to be K!) cable network, including the two-part “Kim’s Fairytale Wedding.” Heck, forget that I still don’t really know who she is or why she’s famous.

Forget all that. The bottom line here is, I understand.

I remember the 72-day mark in my marriage. OK, maybe it wasn’t really the 72-day mark. Maybe it was the 92-day mark, or the 51-day mark.  I didn’t write it down. But it was early in my marriage, I remember that for sure. Anita and I were living in a small apartment. She was already pregnant with our first child and she was throwing up a lot. I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life (see what I mean? There’s a Kardashian connection if ever I saw one!), and yet here I was with a wife with morning sickness and a baby on the way in a dumpy little apartment and an ugly brown sedan that we not-so-affectionately called “Banal.”

I know. It makes you shudder, doesn’t it? It’s like a parallel universe for the Kim and Kris “fairy tale” when you stop and think about it.

Anyway, I remember waking up on night 72 or 92 or 51 or whenever – I think Anita woke me up with another run to the bathroom – and going out into our postage stamp-sized living room, sitting down on the tiny Naugahyde couch my parents had given us (it was a holdover from the Eisenhower Administration, I think) and looking out the window at the dilapidated concrete parking garage that was our view.

And crying.

Manly? Not exactly. I’m relating to Kim here, OK? And at that early moment in my marriage I found myself wondering what on earth I had done, and how I could get out of it.

I’m not sure how long I sat there in the darkness, crying and regretting while shrouded in Naugahyde. But after a little while Anita called out:

“Joe, where are you?”

I don’t know what it was.  Something about the faint, tired, still slightly nauseous sweetness of her voice drew me back to reality – not altogether unpleasantly. There was something to be said for the fact that someone who I loved had missed me in the middle of the night, and cared about where I was. I peeled myself off the couch and walked the few steps to our bedroom doorway.

“I’m out here,” I said softly. “Are you OK?”

“I think so,” she said as she rolled over on her side. “Could you come rub my back?”

So I was missed, and I was needed, and I never doubted that I was loved. Somehow, on night 72 – or 92 or 51 – that was enough. We made it through that night together, and through thousands of subsequent nights leading to 34 years of marriage. It hasn’t always been easy – not for me, and certainly not for Anita – but I think she would agree that it has been worth it.

Which is something to which I truly do hope Kim can one day relate.

~ © Joseph B. Walker

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