The Simplicity of Men

Man’s simplicity
Brings joy, laughter, easiness;
Yet often ignored.
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Happy (belated) Fathers Day to all the men out there who are dads. And if you don’t have children, well, happy guy day. Because I think we need to celebrate guys. As a genus, I am very fond of them. There are some species and subspecies that I think are a**holes (like ones who hurt women, kids and each other), but I choose to believe they are few and far between.

One reason I like them so much is they are simple beings, really. Food, water, sex and the gratification of a hobby are about all you need to provide Man.  If that just offended you I implore you to listen: I like men. I really, really do.  But you are simple. (Example: How many men just read that last line “I like men. I really, really do” and went instantly to some whore-like thought? Some of you, for sure… that’s what I mean. You are simple and predictable… fun.)

(I feel compelled to clarify: I don’t sleep around; I am happily married and faithful…despite my lustings for bathrobe man and running boy…)

My dearest exemplifies this simplicity often. Case in point:  on his birthday back in March, I had a fever, the baby sitter canceled, no date night…  his birthday was shaping up poorly… and I asked “What can I do to make your birthday special?” knowing he had all these strikes against him.

“Pole dance. Check! I can whip up the pole pretty quick,” he deadpanned. Relative to the answer I expected — cough cough coblowjobugh cough cough — this was quite original.  And just another example of the wonderful, simple, predictable Man.

Some women don’t appreciate this. They want men who can read minds, anticipate their feelings, pay full attention during the 4th quarter. These women are insane and clearly so high maintenance they shouldn’t breed.  Men can’t read minds. You have to tell them what you want. And you know what? I have found if the request is reasonable, they’ll deliver.  I told my beloved that our wedding anniversary was a mandatory flower-giving event. The only one in our calendar. I could have have chosen to not tell him and then get pissed off when he gave me only candy or a card, but I didn’t — I told him. I did so because he said once “men typically don’t want to piss women off… just tell us what’s going on…”. So I did. And 19 years strong, he is still delivering the goods.

So to those women out there who live their lives disappointed in the men they claim to love, step back and count your blessings. Learn to laugh and be grateful for the companionship of one so easy to understand. Be clear what you want (but don’t push it…). And I think you’ll find they’ll do right by you. Learn to appreciate how they love you; how they love their children (even if it isn’t how you would do it); learn to love how they fold your shirts (even it if isn’t how you would do it).

And if that doesn’t work, install the pole and I’m guessing they’ll forget all the other bitchin’.

Addendum: Since this post is about guys, I asked Frank to read this. His concern was that it made him/other guys seem shallow. This is not my intent. I think relationship-wise, Man is simple. But this doesn’t preclude depth of feeling, depth of intelligence, depth of capability across all the domains of life.  More reason to love Man: depth and simplicity, a lovely combo.

Do your new reading glasses make my ass look fat? The evolution of a marriage…

Small, square, the ad read:
“…A cuddly renaissance dude…”
With that, I was hooked.
———————————————-

Today I celebrate 19 years of wonderful marriage to Frank. Wow. Nine-teen. That’s a lot. We’ve known each other 20 years – yikes!  that’s like two decades! It has both felt like a very short period of time and like forever, because it seems I can’t recall much before we met.

I’m not sure I’m going to add anything new to the “anatomy of a marriage” genre, but I thought a trip down memory lane would be fun to write. So I present to you my marriage, in 6 stages:

Dating, 14 months: We spent a lot of time at my apartment. I lived alone and it was snuggly.  During this time Frank killed a rat in my apartment (the rat had the strength of 10 men and the daring of a playboy centerfold; I was terrified). He took me sledding for the first time in my life (winter snow is a little thin on the ground in middle Georgia).  It was a lovely place and a lovely time. I enjoyed our courtship a great deal. (I know, I know, who the hell calls it a courtship…)

Marriage years zero to 4: Our first apartment together. I moved in first, a few weeks before the wedding. I knew when the washer and dryer arrived the day after I moved in — my first major appliance purchase ever, let alone with another person — that this was serious. Why the 100 wedding invitations and the white dress hanging in the closet didn’t also convey this, I don’t know. But the washer and dryer… that was it. It was a great apartment. All new building, third floor on the back. We could watch the fireworks at Kings Island every night from the deck (ok, so you had to stand at one end and lean over the railing a little). We lit fires in the fireplace (also a novelty to this childhood victim of gas heat).  We sat on the floor and ate on the glass-topped coffee table in front of the TV so often I made a little table-cloth. (It currently lays folded on a shelf 4 feet from me now; we’ve never been able to part with it.) When we started rehabbing my husband’s childhood home, spending all but sleeping hours elsewhere, the place felt less lived in. Imagine my surprise then when we moved out in 1997: I sobbed uncontrollably at the loss of our first marital home. Even Frank shed a tear.

Homeowners, Part 1: We were virtually immobile for the first 2 years of our life in this home. The previous 18 months of near constant rehabbing had stripped us of our youthful vigor (being newly married and mostly broke, we did almost all the work ourselves. We started by removing the entire roof, trusses and all, and setting new trusses with a crane, if that gives you an indication of how much work we did…). The walls remained boring beige. The last few bits of rehab went untouched for years. But we enjoyed being homeowners. Frank bought me a go-kart disguised as a lawn mower which I joyfully drove like a maniac every summer weekend. I planted a few vegetables. I took a landscape class and redid the front yard. Frank put in a concrete driveway that could withstand the landing pressure of the space shuttle.  Five years after moving in, and nearly 10 years into our marriage, we decided to start a family and quickly (and thankfully) after that, our daughter was born. (I loved painting her nursery (thanks Teneal!) and would silently weep when years later it was undone by another family.) We had cats and house plants and relatives next door and across the street. It was a good party house and the vaulted ceiling hosted a 12 foot tall Christmas tree each year. When we sold the house in 2005 to the first people who looked at it, we were pleased someone who appreciated our hard work, craftmanship and obvious love of the place had purchased it.

The Expat Years: In 2005 we moved to England for my job; Frank became a stay at home dad. We learned to drive on the other side of the road and call it rubbish and motorway and car park and mum. I loved it… and it was hard. Redefining your roles in a marriage and as parents isn’t easy, and often I struggled balancing work (and my perceived higher expectations being an expat) with being a second-in-command parent with being a mom with being a wife with wanting some alone time. But we learned to go with the flow.  Two years into it our son was born and I watched with amazement as my husband grew into an expanded role as caregiver and home-keeper and I chilled out about being the primary breadwinner and an expat. Although we were happy to come back to the US in 2008, I will always love England. I never did fully say goodbye to our rental home there… not sure why.

Growth & Maturation: Remember 2008? Gas prices were sky high? House prices were rock bottom? We returned then, rented a home and stood ready to finally build a house on the 5 acres we had purchased in 2000 in a dream location in the country. But we had to wait. Had to get one kid in school and one in daycare. I had to get used to a new job with what seemed like a 24 hour clock. Frank had to restart his engineering business. And we had to decide on how to proceed with building the house.  Have Frank be the general contractor or use a builder? Will the bank loan us the money in this economy? The house we designed will cost HOW MUCH to build? Meet with the architect and redesign the house smaller with fewer bells and whistles. Revisit the budget, crunch some numbers. Argue with the homeowners association that we weren’t quite yet ready to build… These were the longest 18 months of our marriage I think. My son wasn’t getting along in day care; we were falling deeper in love with our daughters school 45 minutes in the opposite direction from our 5 acres. Did we really want the custom home? Was country living really the right thing for our little family? Was day care really the best option for AB at this time? Did we want a nice house but no money for vacation for the next 20 years, or some other path? When the universe presented to me, one January afternoon in 2010, a 4 bedroom house less than one mile from school on over an acre… an English Tudor no less… with one of those rock bottom prices nearly half of the dream home’s… well, the rest as they say is history. It was one of the most mature things we ever did – picking the collective future of our family over an old dream that didn’t really fit anymore. It was like finally parting with that really cool pair of designer pants that you bought on deep sale at Saks on a whim… they fit, but you never really had the right place to wear them, but you couldn’t bear throwing them out.  Selling the 5 acres felt like taking those pants to Goodwill. You know it’s the right thing, but you still wonder if you made the right decision – will you have just the right event to wear them to come up in a few days…

Homeowners, Part 2, No regrets: 2010 – to present.   I love my marriage. I love my kids and husband and the family we make. I love my house. I (mostly) love my job. We have a good dog and a short commute.  We sold 5 acres of specialty property in a down economy. We can take a vacation each year. The cars are healthy. I have to honestly say I am more content now than I have ever been. Don’t get me wrong — the first 19 years have been wonderful and I’m happy for the journey (and often dumbfounded at my good luck that started with reading that personal ad one NyQuil-drunk March evening…). And yet right now, everything seems to have come together at the same time. I have always mocked those 40-ish actresses who report that their 40s are sooo much better than their 20’s and 30’s. That they know themselves better, feel more comfortable with themselves, etc etc. I don’t feel like I have that level of self awareness – I have no clue if I “know myself better” or not. However, when viewed through the lens of the last 20 years… of the evolution of my married life, well then I must agree. It is, right now, the best. Amongst all the really amazing and wonderful great times, now is the best.

All my love, Frank. So very glad you picked me.

Bathrobe Man, Where Are You?

Infatuation
clutches me, pawing at my
inner teenager.

………………………………………………………………….

I miss him. I really do. We had a lovely relationship a few weeks ago. It was full of mystery, wonder, humor and enough strangeness to keep me coming back.

Oh Bathrobe Man… where are you? For three days I drove past your house to find you standing in the front yard. I was captivated. And now, you are gone…

On the first day, I admired your bathrobe. I’m not sure I’ll ever see its likeness again. The color somehow walked that fine line between light brown and gray-peach that is really hard to pull off. Some might call it taupe. Others might call it morning-after poop.  I liked how the nap of the terry made the color dance in the morning sunlight.

And how you moved… was that tai chi you were doing? You were so graceful. That’s hard for a man of your size. But it occurred to me that perhaps you were once a football player, as your physique hinted at a past power, now, unfortunately, gone with age and maybe a little ill-use. But nonetheless, I thought your dance, your moves, whatever, were nice to watch and made my morning commute all the better.

The next day of our too-short relationship I planned my commute so that I would pass your house at about the same time. Would I be so lucky as to once again glimpse you? Would you reveal more of your self to me, there in your front lawn? Oh, how I hoped. And alas, you did not disappoint.

In my 20 second drive-by that day, I was able to admire your foot wear and legs. Not sure how I missed them on day one, but that day I couldn’t take my eyes off them. The calf-high white socks worked perfectly with the just-below-knee length of your bathrobe. The black slippers, a perfect accompaniment. I reaffirmed my belief in your historic footballer career as I noticed your calves approached thigh proportions… round and strong-looking.  Yet today, your mood seemed to indicate contemplation. Standing there, coffee cup in hand (surely you drink coffee, not tea), you gazed skyward. I’m sure we breathed deep in unison. It was nice.

The next day I cursed my work schedule, which required an early arrival. What did I miss? What if you had noticed me absent and thought my affection waning? I rearranged meetings for the following day to ensure I would be available for you.

And that next day, you were there again. But I was a little alarmed. I was still about 100 yards away when I saw you come out of your house, still bathrobe clad, but more purposeful than prior days. You stepped briskly down your porch stairs, across your yard and down a second set of stairs into your driveway. Now level with you, I was shocked at how crisp your left turn was (perhaps military, not football?) and wondered, wickedly, whether your bathrobe would flutter and reveal more of your mysterious self to me. But then I was past you and, gazing concernedly in my rear view mirror, I watched you march across the street and down a few houses… Now so far away as to not be totally sure, I think you mounted the porch of a neighbor, where you disappeared from view.

You bastard. You are seeing someone else in the morning. These are my mornings. We have something here. I miss one day, just one day, and you decide to move on. I was crushed, devastated and beyond curious as to who this wretched devil-woman was that had lured you away from me.

It’s been four weeks now, and you are nowhere to be seen. No morning coffee. No sunlit tai chi routines. Just me, lonely, slowly driving past your house wondering if you miss me too. What we had was special, don’t you think? Or have you moved on… now shacking up with the woman in the gray house down the lane. Is that why I don’t see you anymore? Have you moved your morning ritual inside, a performance only for her?

I miss you bathrobe man.

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