The Wife:

I might have a new favorite How I Met Your Mother episode, kids. I just might. Aside from the totally friggen’ awesome Marshall and Lily story which I adored, I loved everything about “Three Days of Snow.” This episode is a testament to the great things about HIMYM and its storytelling style. It broke the narrative into three distinct components, layered those together in a way that built humor, tenderness and storytelling momentum and still contained a goodly amount of misdirection and the show’s signature time manipulation.

Hey, at least this beer thought it was being a clever pun.

Hey, at least this beer thought it was being a clever pun.

Marshall and Lily are the kind of couples that survives and thrives on their silly traditions, whether they be normal such as kissing at midnight on New Year’s Eve or slightly more odd, like sharing a list of all of the things they’ve eaten during the day when they both get home. Or even as middle-of-the-road as their lunchtime phone calls, just to say I love you and, occasionally, to have phone sex. (“I might have to adjust my briefs.”) But now, Marshall and Lily want to change one of their greatest traditions. Every time one of them goes somewhere, they return with a six-pack of microbrew from wherever they’ve just been, which they will present to the other, who will be waiting at the airport in a chauffeur’s cap and a sign reading either Lilypad or Marshmallow. The tradition began during their sophomore year of college, when Lily returned from a trip with a six-pack of Fort Lager Dale and found Marshall waiting for her, all dressed up. It has continued ever since, except of course when she returned to New York after her summer in San Francisco. (Although, I bet Marshall would have loved to have some of our amazing microbrews, even though I can’t think of any being nearly as punny as Fort Lager Dale or Puget Stout.) But this year, Lily asked Marshall not to go out of his way to pick her up from her trip to Seattle. She didn’t want him to take a cab all the way out there just to take a cab back. Ted cannot believe this, because he sees Marshall and Lily as a model couple, leading to this hilarious exchange:

Ted: When I look at your guys, that’s all I want in the whole world.
Barney: There’s college girls outside and they look easy.
[Ted leaps up from the table to head outside with Barney.]

With Ted out chasing college girls with Barney, Marshall heads up to the apartment to help Robin fix the radiator. He tells her that he’s not going to go pick up Lily, quoting the chestnut about their maturing relationship that he and Lily continually spout off to people in defense of changing their long-standing tradition. Robin tells Marshall that Lily probably bought him a six-pack anyway, and that they should go pick her up regardless of the fact that she asked him not to. Fearing that she will leave him for a European man with abs who would gladly drink a free six-pack, Marshall and Robin head out into the snow. But Lily has not purchased any beer at all, which she tells her single-serving friend on the plane. As Lily begins to fear that Marshall will be waiting for her at the airport, expecting a six-pack and willing to leave her for the first woman he sees with beer, she begins to panic. (“Wow. A six-pack and you’re an appropriate height for me. Hello, new Lily!”) Luckily, her plane is landing an hour early, giving her ample time to get a six-pack of some punny Seattle microbrew.

Ted and Barney, meanwhile, invite the college girls to meet them at the bar, but the storm of the century (although its only 2009, so its really too early to call it the storm of the century) is brewing outside, and they’re left waiting in an empty McLaren’s until Carl the Vampire Bartender is ready to close the place early. They beg him to stay open a little longer, and Carl takes pity on them, leaving them with the keys to the bar and asking them to lock up after the girls arrive. It’s okay, you see, because Carl trusts them. Meeting these girls is very important to Barney because they go to Arizona Tech, which will get him a very important space on his Party School Bingo board, a game derived from Playboy‘s annual party schools list in which players (just Barney, actually) try to get a Bingo by boning college girls. Alone in McLaren’s, Ted questions the point of the game, and Barney cannot provide a satisfactory answer other than the fact that he needs to get a Bingo. Just because. When Carl hands them the keys, Barney and Ted realize that they have the opportunity to live out every man’s dream, the often ill-fated idea that “we should buy a bar.” And at that bar, they will never, ever, ever have last call. The two then burst into a Cocktail-inspired sequence where they practice their flair bartending, juggle citrus fruits and practice making drinks and living out their bar fantasy for the empty room.

And then their girls finally show up, claiming to be held back by the storm. Ted calls dibs on the girl who refers to the blizzard as being like the ice planet Hoth, while Barney calls dibs on the one with daddy issues. The girls wonder if, since it’s so cold out, they could invite in the rest of their band. Ted and Barney agree, figuring more hot girl rocker chicks is never a bad thing, except that the band turns out to be the Arizona Tech marching band, making the place become jam-packed with people and only two unskilled bartenders to serve them all. The bros valiantly try to keep up with the drink orders, until Barney starts freaking out and can’t remember what’s in a gin and tonic. And then Carl calls to inform them that he’ll be coming by the officially close the bar. Ted suggests that they kick everybody out, fearing Carl’s wrath, but then he overhears two dudes in the band planning their “owning a bar” fantasy, and in their bar, which won’t be called Puzzles, there will never, ever, ever be a last call. Not wanting to disappoint the next generation of bros, Ted and Barney close McLaren’s/Puzzles and move the party upstairs to Ted’s apartment.

When Lily lands at the airport, she sees Ranjeet, ready to pick up another customer. When she explains that she needs to buy beer for Marshall, he ditches her fair and helps her pick up the oh-so-necessary six pack. When they get to the liquor store, Lily discovers that, because of the storm of the year (although, again, it’s only January, so it’s really too early to call it the storm of the year), all the shopkeeper has is a keg of the beer he promised her. Figuring a keg is better than nothing, Lily and Ranjeet take it and head back to the airport.

Meanwhile, Marshall and Robin are headed out to the airport to meet Lily, and while Marshall tells Robin about all of the rituals that are so important to Lily and him, she insults their romance. Marshall, irritated, calls Robin a love hater, to which she counters that he is a love snob who thinks that corny displays of affection are the only way to really be in love. Marshall then calls her a robot, and Robin pulls over and allows their car to get buried in snow-plow slush as they hash out their argument. Marshall eventually apologizes for calling Robin a robot, insinuating that if she is a robot, she’s a really advanced model and the human race doesn’t stand a chance. Robin then tells Marshall to close his eyes . . .

“I don’t know how you heard any of that as me hitting on you, but . . .” – Marshall

. . .and opens the sunroof, spilling snow all over them and allowing them to climb out of the car and go get Lily. But when they arrive at the airport, driver’s cap on and sign in hand, they realize Lily’s not there. And she won’t be there at all because her flight was delayed. You see, it was a three day storm, and Marshall didn’t check his message on Tuesday, when he let Lily’s lunchtime call go to voicemail, so he showed up, not knowing her flight wouldn’t get in until Thursday. On Wednesday, he shows up at Barney and Ted’s bar party and announces that he won’t be going to pick Lily up at all on Thursday, taking Tuesday’s incident as a sign that they really should let their airport tradition go. So on Thursday, Lily sits at the airport alone, with a keg of Seattle microbrew, waiting for her Marshall even though she’d asked him not to come in the first place.

And I was fucking heartbroken. I wasn’t quite “Marshall sitting alone on the steps because Lily left for San Francisco” heartbroken, but I was so, so, so sad in that moment. And then the marching band started playing “Auld Lang Syne,” and Marshall walked in with his sign and his chauffeur’s cap to give Lily the New Year’s Eve kiss they didn’t get to share this year because they fell asleep and I wept for joy. It’s actually really hard to write about that moment without tearing up a little bit, sort of like how I can’t even think about the scene in Big Fish where Edward first sees Sandra at the circus and time stops and he pushes the popcorn aside just to walk across the room at get to her without crying.

I know that I’m probably more pro-Marshall and Lily than most, but I think sweet moments like this are a testament to why we should love them so much. The world needs Marshalls and Lilys, couples who get by being sweet to each other and silly and always, always remembering the things that are important to them, like lists of foods and New Year’s kisses and lunchtime phone calls and airport six-packs. I much prefer looking at their idiosyncrasies as a demonstration of their love for one another than any kind of traditional grand romantic gesture, and I know I’m biased because I see so much of my husband and myself in Marshall and Lily. We don’t have many grand traditions like that, but I can tell you that one of the sweetest things he’s ever done was to inscribe the iPod he bought me for Christmas with the phrase, “For those about to rock, we squee you.” It’s silly, and it doesn’t really mean a whole lot, but because we call each other Fee and Squee and variants thereof, that inscription makes me feel just as good as Marshall and Lily’s new airport tradition, which now involves kegs and marching bands.

Oh, and, by the way, Barney totally got a Bingo.