Which way is this exotic beast heading? Both ways, you say? Neither way? I think you're right.

There comes a time in all many most some most many all marriages when the “until death do us part” vow seems ill-advised or an invitation for Crime Stoppers. Lorna’s and Chuck’s time was coming.

Dr. Doolittle discovered this impossible enigmatic creature on one of his marvelous adventures: the “Pushmi-Pullyu.” This beast had two minds of its own. When both heads were aimed in the same direction, not much could stop it; but when opinions differed, trouble of the “stuck-in-the-mud” or the “rip-it-to-shreds” kind brewed. Our marriage was a “Pushmi-Pullyu.”

Chuck and I were at our best when each of our heads and hind-quarters were aimed in the same direction. Together, we weathered many storms: alcoholism, parenthood, graduate school, moving home, the “Broken House,” and small business ownership.

By nature choice nature and choice, Chuck lead and I followed. That’s what this fatherless-middle-child-I-aim-please-good-girl did as a matter of survival. My a giant hideous perma-zit button that anyone (especially men) who knew me could pick push screamed: “Disappoint me, Girl, and you’re worthless.” I made sure that “disappointment” and “Lorna” didn’t travel in the same universe (with the exception of Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland and half-sister to Liza Minelli, whose less-than-stellar show-biz career is no fault of mine).

Recognize her? No? Didn't think so. That's Lorna Luft. But wait. She kind of resembles me. Oh darn. She would dye her hair blonde. My luck.

It was 1992 and time for change. Chuck’s Law (Every-Three-Years-Something-Big-Happens) was immutable.

Since my girth was only noticed in the “Women’s Plus” Department of Walmart, I decided to change my eating habits. Chuck had gained a few extra pounds, too, but he was working them off with all his activities with his new best friend, S. Besides eating out, the only things we did together as a family Dining out was only thing we did as a family, so I had to think carefully about my new eating plan.

I decided to become a vegetarian. An animal-lover all my life, I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner. I was always queasy when it came to eating any meat that looked like it did when it was animated. Beginning gradually, I ate only ground meat (hamburgers and meatballs not meat that touched the ground). Eventually my conscience and dignity forced lead me into full-blown vegetarianism. How could I say with any credibility to my friendly server, “I’m a vegetarian, so don’t put sausage on my spaghetti, but you can add extra meatballs.” Vegetarians and blondes didn’t need more jokes at their expense.

Chuck was tolerant of my quirky diet. When 10-year-old Alex joined me in my vegetable vegetarian stand, Chuck’s tolerance morphed to concern, then dismay. Our dining-out menus and venues shrank considerably. Alex hated anything green but Popsicles and Jello, so we became Italian. To Chuck’s credit, he became quite a good vegetarian chef.

Don't let the dark hair and eyes fool you, we became just as Italian as they are. We had the pizza boxes to prove it.

Chuck’s business was so successful that he bought a building, hired more staff and set up his own office. My academic career was on overdrive. Career-wise, we were solid gold. After realizing that substituting gooey Cinnabons, pasta, and potatoes for meat wasn’t the way to lose weight, I realigned my diet and started looking less like a Russian weightlifter sent to Siberia for steroid use and more like me.

Enjoy de applause, Olga. Ve half a tank and XXXL fur coat vaiting for you outside for treep oop nort.

Ever so slowly, I was reintroduced to my self-esteem for having made such a dietary family-altering change, for being such a success in my career, and supporting Chuck with his. I also rediscovered my toes from a standing position. I was getting smaller and bigger all at once. Now was the time to assess my life with a new set of eyes, “Pullyu” eyes.

Chuck was a reasonable man, especially after a couple of big martinis. My plan was simple. Every few days, I would casually bring up one of the few but earth-shattering mind-blowing ball-busting (if I had any) major frustrations that I had brewing frothing tumbling around in my mind and ever so rationally offer a reasonable solution that would satisfy us both. He would finish his second martini, agree, and we’d skip merrily to the bedroom. Simple, even sweet.

Why do the martinis make him think even quicker and shoot even deadlier? It's not fair.

My top three frustrations were:

  1. His office was more finished than our home.
  2. I was a lonely wife who missed her husband
  3. Our approach to disciplining Alex was different and we needed a compromise position.

I put my plan into action.

There was a reason I was never a planner.

When the “Pushmi-Pullyu” is going in different directions, it looks like nothing is happening on the outside. All is still. But look closer. You’ll see the straining and can only guess about what’s happening on the inside…