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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Schmuck With the Really Big Problem

I've got this really big problem in my life.

See-- my wife actually likes being with/around me.

Ain't life a total bitchskies?

I work with/around lots of middle aged women, and I know many others who talk shit about their husbands non-stop. They join gyms and clubs and Alcoholics Anonymous and Gilbert & Sullivan societies and book circles and knitting trapezoids just so they can get away from their husbands for an hour or two each week.

They regale each other with stories of their husbands' ineptitude, skullduggery, and affiliated moronia to any other cluck ol' hen who will listen, nodding her head appreciatively while she bends down to peck and pick at some birdseed on the ground, stopping only to adjust her feathers.

My wife doesn't do that. Maybe it's because we're sweet, cute, young 20somethings. Maybe it's because our relationship was founded and is grounded in mutual respect and admiration. Maybe it's because we recognize what's good in each other, and accept each other "with our lumps."

We're lumpy, as people go. Everybody has lumps-- even seemingly perfect people like Sean Connery, Michael Bubblie, and that bitch on TV-- you know-- whatsherface. After four years of datery and three of marriage, my wife and I are intimately acquainted with each other's lumps, and we acknowledge that we falter and fail at certain things-- in certain ways, we don't measure up. But, that's life-- and mature, compassionate, in love people know that, and keep on loving anyway.

'Cuz we're good like that.

Recently, though, I feel like one of my lumps has been growing larger, to goiter-like proportions, and that lump concerns my job. I work at a small non-profit and, because I'm such a fucking cracker-jack at relating to younger folk, I teach on certain nights. I'm also in stage plays, because I've been known to assert my cracker-jackery at onstage antics, too. To make up for the fact that I often am here until 8 or 9pm, my boss allows me to come into work late, sometimes at around 12pm. This, of course, is no help to my wife or my marriage, as my wife is on her way to her job by 7:30am or 8:00am at the latest. To add insult to injury, I do not get paid for the teaching component of my salary, when other per diem teachers make $30.00/hr.

"That's included in your salary," my boss says-- a salary that is about on par with an entry level position at any comparable non-profit organization-- a salary that any 22-year-old living in his first apartment and getting his car and health insurance paid for by Daddy Warbucks-- would be very happy with.

But, let's face it, motherhumpers-- I'm going to be thirty soon (May 12th-- love me!) and, not to fucking brag, but I'm a published author and have a Masters degree and I'm getting kind of tired of working around the clock till my chapped ass bleeds for mostly peanuts and the occasional cashew. And my wife is getting tired of it, too, and I don't blame her.

So, after finishing work at 7:30 tonight, I went over to my parent's house to talk about it, as my wife had chorus rehearsal tonight and I had the "night off." It wasn't a particularly productive conversation, but it did bring me hurtling back in time to other trauma-ramas in my life that had their airings in the living room before my parents. At least my father, on this particular evening, politely refrained from doing sit-ups on the living room floor while I spilled my empassioned guts out. He did let out some extraordinary farts, but extended the usual courtesy of offering me foods I didn't want.

"Mummy-- do you want... eh.... prailine and vanilla diet ice-cream?" This receives an icy stare from me.

"What about Veggie Straws-- they are from Don Juan."

For some reason, my father refers to "Trader Joe's" as "Don Juan." Don't ask me why, I have no answers. He's Israeli, that's the only answer I can give you and, if you've ever lived with an Israeli, that's all the answer you need.

They basically told me that what is happening to me at work is purely my fault, and that I need to keep track of my hours and show my boss that I am working like a slave, and that I should refuse to teach, act, or direct or help in any way after five o'clock.

"And, if she wants to fire you, say, 'Hey, that's fuckin' great!'" my father says. My mother, for the most part, sits pensively, wrapped in a soft, white blanket, staring at the careworn, peach carpet beneath her slippers, quietly blaming herself for everything that goes wrong in all three of her children's lives.

"Daddy and I went to that new park today, the one they just spent all that money on a few years ago, and took a nice walk," she says to me while my father's in the kitchen making me coffee I don't really want.

“Yeah?” I ask, “was it romantic?”

“No, it wasn’t romantic. But the weather was nice—it’s a beautiful park.”

I look at her.

“What do you talk about, when you’re alone—just the two of you?”

She laughs at me.

“We’ve been married for thirty-six, Jesus—thirty-seven years—we have plenty to talk about.”

I find this intriguing because the avowed stereotype of ancient, married people is that they have nothing to talk about.

“Well,” I press, “what do you talk about?”

“We talked about Aunt Mickey (you remember her—she’s barely clinging to life in Florida), we talk about our children and what’s going on in their lives. Why—why do you want to know?”

“I just want to make sure that you have some uplifting things to talk about every now and then, too.”

She laughs at me again, this time shaking her head as she smoothes out a piece of already smooth carpet with the toe of her slipper.

”Jesus,” she says, “you really kill me.”

And that may be true. But I suppose, despite all of our troubles and travails, there’s something uplifting about all three of her children. My eldest daughter may be a prematurely, physically ill geriatric and an emotional infant—but she’s easily the most financially successful of all of us—and she’ll be able to make the payments on the Maserati she’s going to buy herself for her fiftieth birthday with no sweat at all. My middle sister, though she may be married to a failure, and makes $11.00-an-hour busting her ass behind the counter of a cafĂ©, has a beautiful, giggly, lovely son.

And me? While I might be miserable in my job, utterly directionless and haphazard in my daily affairs, with the anxieties of life keep me awake from 2:00am-6:15am when the alarm goes off-- my wife actually misses me when I’m gone.

And what could be more uplifting for a mother to know about her son than that?


  1. Great read! Your parents should be VERY proud! I too have a husband I love to be around, and when my job and everything else in the world gets me down, I stay happy knowing that I get to go home to him.

  2. What a sweet, beautiful post! It almost makes me want to get into a blissfully happy relationship. Except then I'd have to give up my knitting trapezoid...

  3. No fair, you pulled a switch on us in this post! I was expecting some real rage, and instead we get...seriously touching and heartfelt. I want my money back.

  4. My mother, for the most part, sits pensively, wrapped in a soft, white blanket, staring at the careworn, peach carpet beneath her slippers, quietly blaming herself for everything that goes wrong in all three of her children's lives.

    -perfect line! that's my mother too!

  5. i've been a member of the bitter hen club. whether or not it was warranted is neither here nor there... i just wanted to point out that someone very wise once told me that you can only bitch about your spouse so much before you look like a dumbass for marrying them in the first place.

    as for your job, if you're feeling taken advantage of, you're probably going to have to leave. i hate to be that way, but we train people to expect things of us, and if they've been trained to think you'll do everything for nothing without so much as a peep of complaint? that's how they'll always see you, and any violation of their expectations will be seen as you being unreasonable. at least that's been my experience.

    parents relish the little things. my dad took my mom out to a celebratory dinner shortly before thanksgiving. why?

    he walked through the door, and she said "i talked to both of your daughters today, and they wanted me to let you know they've had their tires rotated and balanced for the season". he hadn't reminded us, or suggested it, and he took mom out for filet mignon, so pleased he was at raising TWO DAUGHTERS with the good sense to have their tires rotated and balanced. ;)

  6. Is prailine and vanilla diet ice-cream any good?

  7. This is the second mention I've read of this elusive book of yours. I want a copy!

  8. "that bitch on tv...whatshername..." Meredith Viera? i agree!

  9. Trader Joe's as Don Juan? That, my friend, is the funniest thing I've heard in a really long time.

    I love it.

    And yes, totally understandable to just equate that with being Israeli.

    About the other stuff? We all have stuff that's making us crazy; it's hard to see the good stuff through all the crap - good for you for noticing you have kick-ass relationship... that's (the relationship but also the recognition) definitely more than most...


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