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There couldn't be a better week to celebrate one of my favorite writer/performers and his husband of 22 years.
Given how immature, I mean youthful, we are, it's hard to believe I've known actor/writer Dan Bucatinsky for more than a decade. We met when I first started producing a live storytelling show about parenting called, "Afterbirth...stories you won't read in a parenting magazine."
A lot has happened since those early years, working out of a bar in Los Angeles. Dan toured the country with "Afterbirth," which also became a book. Then he wrote his own hilarious book about parenting, "Does this Baby Make Me Look Straight?" In the meantime, he continued to act on shows like "Scandal," where he picked up that Emmy, and "Marry Me." He also acted in and produced "Web Therapy" for Showtime and the revival of "The Comeback."
Most importantly, though, he did all of this while staying married to the devoted, understated and oh, so talented husband Don Roos (with whom he also wrote and produced "Web Therapy.") These two have that kind of finish-each-others'-sentences communication that makes you feel deliciously at home when you're around them. I sat with the two of them in their kitchen, interviewing them for "Take My Spouse, Please" and never wanted to leave. It's almost two years later, so I recently caught up with Dan for some of the highlights of what will be 23 years together in October.
For the record, Dan and Don officially married in September of 2008.
Dani Klein Modisett: Remind me where you and Don met?
Dan Bucatinsky: Here in Los Angeles. We were fixed up by our friends. It was a game night party. I was a struggling actor back then, a tad self-focused. I really didn't want to meet anyone. And I was intimidated, because Don was already this big success.
For my 35th birthday, Don borrowed a chimpanzee for me to play with.
DKM: Was it love at first sight?
DB: It was immediate "I-bet-this-would-be-good-for-me" at first sight for me. And probably head-over-heels love-at-first-sight for Don. Once he roped me in that all changed.
DKM: How important would you say timing is in your marriage?
DB: Definitely important. From knowing when to bring up a touchy subject , to understanding each other's own personal "clocks." All of it. For instance, Don isn't a morning person. I am, so that affects our daily lives. But then there are the bigger events, like the timing of when we met. It was kind of off cause we weren't on the same page for a few months. But, ultimately, it worked, so I guess it was right after all. Timing is curious between couples, because there is the stuff you can control and then there is the stuff you can't. If the timing had been completely wrong when we met, we wouldn't be together today. But in terms of lifestyle, for me, a life too synchronized doesn't work either. You have to leave some room for spontaneity. At least I used to think that way. The older I get the more I find I'm like my kids. I want to know everything ahead of time so I feel calmer. You know that kid cliché, "Are we there yet? When are we going to get there?" I feel the grown-up version of this all the time: "When will this be over?" We were on a plane recently and there was turbulence, and I said to Don, "Why don't they just tell us when this will be over?" And he said, calmly, because he's Don, "Don't you think that if they could tell us that they would?" I find I used to be Mr. Impulsive, but now I really like things planned.
DKM: But alot of what I've read about marriage is that surprising each other is great for a marriage, it keeps things interesting. Is that true for you guys?
DB: The only thing surprises do for our marriage is keep Don annoyed. He is NOT a fan of surprises, no matter how hard I try. I've packed a bag and surprised him with a hotel room, booked massages that magically appear at our house, even a surprise menu can deflate him. All of which, frankly, I do for him selfishly, like, you know, hint, hint, I could use a little at home masseuse! But it never fails, whatever I plan to surprise him with five minutes before, he will say, out of the blue, that he hates that thing, that whatever is I have planned is the worst possible thing he could imagine happening right now. But I haven't given up! HA!
DKM: So he's never surprised you with anything?
DB: Oh, no, he definitely has. For my 35th birthday, Don borrowed a chimpanzee for me to play with. This had been a childhood dream of mine. It was funny. But also thoughtful and wonderful.
Don doesn't have to do all the things I'm doing, and I don't have to do everything with him.
DKM: That is perhaps the most specific surprise I have heard. What about parenting? You have two young children. How did you keep a sense of humor during the chaos of the early years?
DB: With a lot of help. And wet wipes. And Pinot Grigio. And babysitters. And each other. And laughing. We laughed a lot. You have to or you will go crazy.
DKM: So what's the pay off of staying married for a long time?
DB: Building a family together. Feeling a sense of home. Not having to date. Or trim your ear hair.
DKM: Any other wisdom learned over the years?
DB: Don doesn't have to do all the things I'm doing, and I don't have to do everything with him. We have couple friends who do everything together, write together, work together, parent together, that works for them, to be totally in sync every second. That's not right for us. We like different things. I love a party, Don not so much. And that's OK. I do a lot of social stuff by myself, and I've made peace with it. In fact, it's probably good. We're both people who need a little independence, being able to have it is probably what has kept us together all these years.