That’s what we call my husband, David…Bunny. I don’t know why but it just works. The next best word to describe David is “dichotomy.” David is a dichotomy in every sense. To know him is to love him yet to know him is to want to rip his head off. David has led a charmed life until it all fell apart. This man, Bunny, is the man you want on your team because he will not back down, he will not crumble, he will not falter and you will never be the same without him but you also want to punch him in the face. But let’s back up a little… By the way, if this love story is boring, I won’t be offended if you skip today’s blog.
In 2006, my sister called me and said, “That cute French guy just left his wife and moved in next door to me.” My response was, “Well, you better march over to his house right now and tell him to ask your sister out on a date.” Her response: “No, that’s tacky, you slut.” So that was that. She refused. But don’t worry… I was only devastated for a week. The very next weekend I decided to go to the polo match in Santa Barbara with my best guy friend, Max. Max is an arrogant, handsome, funny, macho Italian whose family owned Brioni. Need I say more? Sometimes Max and I spoke on the telephone 15 to 16 times a day. Max is the type of guy who comes early to help you with your party and eats all the appetizers before your guests arrive...Which he did. He’s also the type of guy who sleeps with all of your friends… Which he did. Max is the type of guy who usually gets kicked out of a restaurant….Which he has. Max is the type of guy who whips you with a kitchen towel and draws blood… Which he has. However, Max is the kind of best friend that you want. So, here Max and I were sitting at the polo match in the parking lot drinking champagne in his fancy car like white trash before we went inside. All of a sudden, David drives up in his pale blue/gray Ferrari and parks next to us. I almost spit my champagne out. I started screaming to Max, “Max it’s the French guy! It’s the French guy!” David stepped out of his car and started screaming in French on his cell phone. I told Max to go talk to him and Max agreed that he would. But here’s the thing, we had to wait one hour for David to get off the telephone. David screamed on the telephone in the parking lot of the polo match for a solid hour. So by this time, Max and I were completely tipsy from the champagne. Finally, David got off the phone and Max made his move. I sat in the car impatiently waiting. Max came back to the car and told me to pull it together and that we were going to go inside the polo club and have a drink with the French guy. I had waited five years for this moment! And guess what? I froze, I totally froze. I couldn’t say a word to David. Max kept looking at me like, “You fool.” We had a couple more drinks and Max did all the talking. He and David were having a blast. I stood there like an idiot. Max took me aside at one point and said, “Ellie, I have some bad news for you. I think David likes me.”
Good news. David actually liked me, not Max. David and I have been together ever since that day at polo. But it hasn’t all been roses. David and I are both extremely boisterous passionate human beings. This is not a ying and yang type of relationship. It’s a yang and yang relationship. Neither of us will ever back down from our truth… Whatever it may be. David and I could fight over how we raise children to which cheese to buy for fondue. We will fight to the death. But the good news is that two minutes later we love each other again. I never knew there were men like David in the world. David’s idea of a fun evening is staying home with the children, cooking dinner, and watching a movie. David’s life revolves around his family and he does not give one bit of energy to anything else besides family and his work. I have never once worried that David would cheat on me, go out with the guys to a bar, flirt with women… Nothing. That is not in David’s character. All he cares about is us. David likes to go shopping with me… for clothes, shoes, antiques, perfume, books, food etc. When David is stressed out he goes to Williams-Sonoma. Swear to God. He loves to go to museums and exhibits. Our weekends are filled with stuff that I want to do. We have never done anything that David wants to do. We don’t even know what David likes to do because we’ve never asked and he has never told us. He would spend three days at Disneyland with a smile on his face if we wanted to go. David is in charge of everything and organizes everything. He even packs juice boxes for the children if we are in the car for longer than 30 minutes. He makes all the school lunches. When the children were young, David gave them all a bath, brushed their hair, blowdried their hair, put them in their pajamas, gave them a spray of perfume, cooked dinner, did all of the dishes, snuggled everyone and put everyone to bed. This is what makes David happy.
However, he’s totally annoying. He blow dries his hair for too long, he always loses his keys, he always misplaces his phone, he’s a terrible driver, he falls all the time, he uses shampoo as soap, he hates that we suck at tennis, he over feeds all of us, he refuses to speak before coffee in the morning, he hates that we are computer illiterate, he’s socially inept and doesn’t care, he eats food off the floor, he hoardes clothes, he’s super loud, he calls his mother at least five times a day, argues with everyone including his lawyers, he hates when I buy expensive flowers, he hates when I put nails in the walls, he’s always overheating, and he has that typical pessimistic French attitude. He doesn’t understand the humor of Napoleon Dynamite and eats foie gras.
However, he’s also totally wonderful. He brings me a present nearly every day. He has let me watch anything I want on the television for the past eight years. He’s happy when I am happy. When he is out of town, he calls me at least 400 times a day. He loves music. He loves to watch Westerns with John Wayne. He’s never gross or crude. He doesn’t watch sports. He loves to take pictures of us. He doesn’t snore. He takes baths. He always buys me pretty dresses without me asking. He convinces surgeons to let him go into surgery with me. He puts his hand on my back the entire night while we sleep. He is the best friend someone could have. He likes to look through family photo albums. He is loyal, honest, tender, strong and has great taste and style. I never have to tell him what to wear because he always looks chic. He loves Gracie like his own daughter and tells her to look up words like “altruism.”
When David was going through his divorce and fighting his wife for custody and trying to cure his autistic son… Our life was very difficult. Like I said, David and I do not do well in high stress situations. I would leave his house crying and screaming nearly every week. He would always chase me and bring me right back home. David is one of those types of guys who never says I’m sorry but always shows me how sorry he is. It has taken me eight years to understand David. I finally decided that it’s just best to let David be David. I can’t change him. Letting David be David means having to put up with someone who is overly obsessive about organizing, overly obsessive about dry-cleaning, overly obsessive about the refrigerator being perfect, overly obsessive about the closets, overly obsessive about grooming the cat, overly excessive about watering the plants, overly obsessive about the children, overly obsessive about every single thing that we do. If we come home from a vacation at 3 o’clock in the morning, David will unpack all of our bags, do all of the laundry, fold everything, put it away, organize the house again, download all the photos, charge all the electronics and then maybe he will go to sleep. Every inch of paperwork is organized at our house and David actually owns a laminating machine. All of his shoes are in specialized little felt bags, all of his sweaters are perfectly folded and he has a special area in our apartment for his suits and jackets. Oh, did I mentioned that David loves clothes. David is a total clothes whore. But here’s the weird thing, David usually only wears one outfit. All black or gray. His entire collection of clothes are hardly ever touched. Most of them still have price tags on them. We had to get a storage in Santa Barbara because David had so many clothes… That he didn’t wear! He would go visit his clothes on the weekends. Swear to God. On a sad side note, David’s entire collection of custom-made shoes were stolen out of the storage as well as all of David’s suits and cashmere sweater collection. My response? “See? You should’ve worn your clothes and had them at our house. Now, some hoodlum is running around Santa Barbara in your Hermes suit. Happy?” I have often asked David why he basically wears a uniform of black and gray. He told me that he will wear brighter colors when his son is cured of autism. See how easy it is to love him and then hate him?
June 16. David’s birthday. I was in New York at New York Presbyterian Hospital being tested for ALS by a brilliant doctor who specialized in ALS. David was on a flight from California to New York rushing to get to me. He showed up at the hospital with all of his suitcases. He found me in the doctor’s office a broken woman. I was in a hospital gown trying to prove to the doctor that I could lift my foot up and that I did not have ALS. Sadly, we all knew that I did. I had a talk with David that night and I told him that he did not need to stay in this relationship. My disease was going to get very, very ugly and he did not need to go through this with me. David told me that he would never leave me and that he never wanted to have this discussion again and if I ever brought it up again he would kill me himself. And guess what? This man has been in the trenches with me ever since. David took over. He organized every doctor appointment, read every article on ALS, consulted every type of doctor on earth, made me sit in a hyperbaric chamber, made me get acupuncture, made me sit in an infrared sauna, made me take hundreds of supplements, made me have my blood checked every month, made me have intravenous vitamin drips, took me to every doctor from New York, Chicago, Paris and Los Angeles, forced me to get a feeding tube, forced me to get a diaphragm pacer, force-fed me every healthy food on earth, helped me get my head together mentally, took me to every type of therapist, and basically was trying to do anything in his power to save me. Here’s something you don’t know about me. I didn’t want to do any of it. I wasn’t brave, I wasn’t strong and I wasn’t motivated. I was lost but David basically took on my disease for me. He also decided to remove every bit of toxicity from my life and that included some friends and some family. I fought him at first telling him that not everyone could be like him. Not everyone can handle my disease. Not everyone is as strong as he is. According to David, that was no excuse. He expected my friends and family to step up to the plate like he did. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, not everyone will be there for you when you need them including my own family. That was a big lesson for me to learn. David has protected me from all of it. Unfortunately, this means that the whole load is on David. Every financial hardship, every emotional hardship, every physical hardship, and every spiritual hardship. It is all on David shoulders.
To add insult to injury, not only do I have ALS, but his son has autism, his father passed away from Alzheimer’s and he lost custody of his children. He has a broken heart but he is not a broken man. The only time that I have ever seen David break down was after his father’s death in the summer of 2013. It was just all too much and as usual, David and I took it out on each other. Remember, we are not good in a stressful situation. After three weeks of hell that summer, we regrouped and got back on track. By the way, we just decided to agree to disagree. Neither of us apologized for “the incident” and neither of us took responsibility. We never even bring it up because if we do all hell will break loose.
David has watched me go from a healthy, active, fully functional woman to someone who cannot do a thing for herself and he has never treated me differently. He still thinks I pretty, he still spends every waking moment with me, he still organizes fun weekends for me, he brushes my teeth, wipes my tears away when I have a meltdown, and refuses to let me go.