Martyrdom: The Game

I am smug about very few things. I am mostly a balled up bundle of exposed nerves when it comes to nearly every aspect of life. One thing I am smug about, however, is my marriage to Randy.

Our marriage isn’t perfect and has suffered some tsunami sized blows, but we weathered that fucking shit. We were either going to make it, or we were going into the frigid water playing a tune.

Okay, that’s a lie. Randy plays guitar, so he could play a tune, but I don’t play any instruments.

I am tone deaf. I have no musical talent, but I can dance. Oh, and one time, Mountain Girl let me play with her theremin. I pretty much made a sound like annoying feedback and then asked her to play piano for me.

The point is, and believe me, it’s a loose fucking point, Randy and I have a great relationship, but that doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes compete for last place.

We were doing a “comparison” thing and his comparison was lame.

It started because we were talking about the baby boy and how he’ll be 19 in a few weeks. I was looking at pictures of Joey and said how pleased I am that he went to the prom when he was in high school. I said that prom was a cool rite of passage and I ‘m glad he experienced it. Randy shrugged his shoulders and raised his hand and said “I wouldn’t know.” He didn’t have to finish the thought, which was “but you would.”

This is where Randy retreats into his self-imposed Quasimodo role. He didn’t date much and didn’t go to prom. He wasn’t one to try to pick up girls in bars. Or really, anywhere. Because he was too busy hanging around in bell towers.

Me? I went to prom twice. I should have gone my senior year, but just before prom, my long term douche twizzle boyfriend decided he didn’t want to go. I even had a dress, you guys.

But I digress. Also, I rarely bought my own drinks at the clubs when I was heavy into the dance club scene. But if we’re going to be completely honest here, I had some gorgeous friends. Guys usually didn’t buy one drink. They bought a drink for the hot chick and a drink for the friend. Not that I didn’t get my own often enough, but I’m trying to keep it real, here.Β 

He’s right though, he wouldn’t know about prom.

I went to prom.

He went to college.

Me: Motherfucker, really?

Randy: Well, promΒ is a rite of passage. You know. Just one of those things I didn’t get to experience.

I watched his features settle into his martyr mask.

Me: Yeah, like that time you went to college and I didn’t?

Randy: That’s not the same.

Me: No. No it isn’t remotely the same. I went to prom twice. So, I wore a fancy dress and ended up with my pantyhose around my knees in the back of my boyfriend’s car. On two different nights. Where you spent four years in college, lived in a dorm, and had the whole “college” experience. Plus, you have a degree and from what I understand, that is very helpful in life.

Randy: Well…

Me: And as part of your college experience, didn’t you get to live in London for a few months and travel to other European countries while you were there?

Randy: I did get to do that.

Me: I got a job downtown. I did get to eat my bag lunch on Fountain Square whenever I wanted.


Me: Once a pigeon shit on my head.

See? I totally win that round of Matyrdom: The Game and “who is the most pathetic?”.

I guess the grown up thing to say would be “No one really wins when you play “who is the most pathetic?”.

However, I often don’t choose the grown up route and besides, where is the fun in that?

You don’t want to wear the martyr crown for too long.

Martyrdom feels cumbersome, but for a short period of time, the weight of that crown can feel kind of nice.

Randy has been treating me like a prom queen for 22 years, so he and I can try to out-martyr each other, but really, we’re both pretty lucky.

Still, I think a degree would have come in handy.




36 Thoughts.

  1. I honestly think a degree only sounds fantastic to those who haven’t got one. But really if you had, it wold be like, “Meh.”

    A bit like going to a prom.

    I think the grass always is greener.

    That game sounds like bizarre fun to me. I bet I would win, though. I really am the most pathetic at most stuff.

    See what I did there???!!!!!


    Brilliant and funny post as ever, Michelle- thank you. Hope you are feeling better at last.

    • Man, I would LOVE to say I am better now. I mean, I am better than I was, but not great. This week has sucked.

      I get what you are saying about a degree, but it has held me back professionally by not having one. That piece of paper is an invitation and if you don’t have one, a lot of places won’t even invite you to try to work for them.

      • Sorry to hear you still feel ill πŸ™
        Would you consider or be able to do more or higher qualifications? So many more mature students go back to study, if only for your own satisfaction that you have done it.
        I know what you mean about it being a passport- maybe the universe (!?) is inviting you to go back to college?
        I do have a degree, but want to change career, so need to go and do more studies, not at degree level, just different qualification; so I can relate to your dilemma.

  2. I’ve heard they come in handy, although I have three and make less than many of my high school diploma’d friends.

    I not only missed prom, I missed every single dance of my school years – no homecomings, no 8th grade dance, etc.

    I don’t complain. When you’re the Pathetic King, you don’t have to advertise. People just know.

  3. My husband had two degrees and no job. l had a job and no degrees. He complained bitterly for years, but never endangered his martyrdom by actually getting a job.

  4. Some days I feel like you can’t win for losing when it comes to being an adult. No matter what choices you made in life, there is always the opposite side of the coin that seems like it would have been better for some reason. I know this now because of the stupidest thing….

    When I was a teen I had poker straight hair and permed it because I loved curls and body. After I had kids, my hair turned curly and now I spend EVERY DAY straightening it.

    It’s a trivial thing but it made me realize that I will ALWAYS want something I don’t have or question whether the other grass truly is greener. I’m just not the type to be content no matter how hard I try. And I do try!!

    It’s human nature to wonder, especially when we are feeling the martyr coming on. Thankfully when you catch it you can pull yourself back out of it by focusing on the stuff that you know really is awesome about you and your life.

  5. (Attributed to George Burns:) “I can eat and I can sing. Most people would rather hear me chew.”
    I am tone deaf too, and also have no sense of rhythm. My daughters have banned me from clapping along. At concerts, I only sing along when the song is supposed to be zombies singing. I am good at singing like a zombie.
    Grrr! Aargh!

  6. I have some college courses, but no degree. I chose husband #1 (of 3) over going to college. Not my first mistake. I will say, the lack of degree only bothered me once. 5 years ago when I was out of work, all job posts said, Degree required. Still, I got a job I really liked based on connections. Connections have gotten me all but one of the jobs I’ve had.

  7. We’ve played that game around here a time or two. The classic round went something like this:

    ME: Yeah, I remember when we went to Disneyland when I was a kid, and how jealous I was of all the families that stayed in the swanky Disneyland Hotel. I think that was my first real pang of envy, as a child.
    HIM: Really? Did your clothes stink from being washed in a river? Because we stayed at a CAMP SITE. And we didn’t bring enough tents!

  8. See… around here, we don’t have to compare or ‘one-down’ each other. Tim is the martyr and I’m the bitch/cunt/twat…. my words, not his.

    He gets a Thank You card from the Sheriff every year for saving them man hours and paperwork.

    Other husbands make him offerings of whiskey and Kudo’s for ‘taking another one for the team.’

    When I went back for my degree, he took over the kitchen. Pot pies for the next 4 years (… ended up taking me 5 πŸ˜‰ ) apparently equated to starving and I happily lowered the bar on kitchen clean-up.

    And, with confidence, I can say that my degree is much like my sobriety. Not worth much on a day to day basis, but handy when reliability and credibility are called for…

    On the other hand.
    Mama is the true martyr.
    Nothing I’ve done matches the suffering and misery she has endured and lived through.

  9. “When I think back
    On all the crap I learned in high school
    It’s a wonder
    I can think at all
    And though my lack of education
    Hasn’t hurt me none
    I can read the writing on the wall”

    Then there’s this Sinfest comic I almost couldn’t find, but given the subject matter, really wanted to show you:

    Hope you are feeling better really soon, and I’m signing off now before my computer crashes again…

    • HAHAHAH..that was awesome! Yes, the pig wins. I hope I am better soon, too. I am better, but not great. Every day is a little more improvement. I am hoping that I’m back to normal (well, normal for me) by the weekend.

  10. I like this one because I can relate. I know for sure that martyrdom only works for a certain period of time and then the thrill is over…forever. Even playing that game for sympathy doesn’t get the results for very long.

    However, if I were scoring in your game, I would definitely say that YOU win. Missing the prom is just not worth giving any points in my world.


  11. Another post that has me smiling…and admiring your talent. You make it all look so damn easy: just throw together a few anecdotes and whammo! another post that has me smiling. Except the simplicity, the seeming serendipity you achieve is fucking hard to do. Bravo.

  12. That does sound like a heavy crown. But it’s surely not the worst game you guys could play. After thinking about it, if I named our home game, it would be “Chicken”. Two stubborn as hell people, who will back down first? We are well matched. Sometimes it becomes “Chicken in the Thunderdome!” in intensity. but that happens less frequently. Though there are days where afterwards I swear one of us picks a fight out of boredom. Again, well matched πŸ˜‰

    • If anyone picks a fight out of boredom, it’s Randy. He gets bored and says or does things that he KNOWS push my buttons and then feigns innocence. He’s lucky he’s still alive.

  13. Michelle–honestly I would rather have a man like Randy then be degreed to death like I am. But I like studying–took me until my 40s to realize how much and that I would rather do that then be the permanent prom princess who didn’t go to the prom itself because it was hippie days but was Princess of Lamna Signa Delta ( a coed non frat we named for the initials) the next year.

    • I HATE studying and research. I have a horrible attention span and have never been good at it. And I did luck out on the whole spouse thing (well, after the third try haha). We’re just compatible. Except for when we’re not. I was never a prom princess, but I DO really love getting super dressed up once every year or two. I am totally due for that. Thank god I have a wedding to attend soon.

    • I was a cheerleader for peewee football and that doesn’t count because if you showed up, you got to be a cheerleader. I tried out in the 7th grade and didn’t make it. That was it for me.

  14. For whatever it’s worth, I never went to prom (it was 1970, and my high school administration canceled it as punishment for some disruptive anti-war protests, including one where someone threw a canister of tear gas into a classroom I was in). My husband, on the other hand, went to proms both his junior and senior year. I guess we evened each other out. (My son, following in the family tradition, decided not to go to his prom.)

  15. I was going to rant about how annoying it is that we live in a society that rewards people for living in a dorm and dicking around for four years when people who couldn’t, or just didn’t, do that can still be completely qualified but still get passed over for jobs, but YOU GOT TO PLAY WITH A THEREMIN.
    Yes, I’m going to play Martyrdom too and I WIN because theremins are the coolest instrument in all of time and space and yet I’ve never even seen one in person.
    Yes! We are all winners! And losers.

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