Now I Know I Can’t Be Somehow Getting It Right….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:07 am

….but given the number of folks I see getting it totally wrong, that’s the only conclusion I can come to.

Case in point: I made some yummy roast pork the other day. Pork loins rubbed in garlic, seared, then baked in a dutch oven with some beer, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, some potatoes from Margaret’s garden and some carrots (not from Margaret’s garden). Heavenly, if extremely simple. Being of the Costco tribe, there was plenty left over, so I jokingly told her, “take some for lunch tomorrow; make all your coworkers jealous.”

She did, and they were. One of the front desk folks walked by her as she was nuking her lunch and made some sort of appreciative comment. But her true amazement came when my sweetie informed her offhandedly that (gasp!) her husband had cooked it! Exclamations to the effect of, “I can’t ever get my husband to cook; either I do it, or we order out” followed.

This is hardly the first time I have heard this sort of thing from Margaret. Every place she has worked, she has brought home tales of her female coworker’s ceaseless wonder at my willingness to cook, to clean, to basically divide the household chores down the middle and consistently complete my half. It’s not universal, certainly, but the scenario presents itself often enough that I would be willing to guess that the majority of the female staff in her various places of work have considered our egalitarian domestic relationship to be the exception rather than the rule.

Every time I hear one of these tales, I have approximately the same reaction: do these women somehow manage to miss the fact that they are making these observations….at work? You know, pretty much the exact same circumstances that their darling hubbies/boyfriends/domestic partners are experiencing day to day?

Another example: every once in a while I send Margaret flowers at work. No particular reason; I just happened to have thirty or forty bucks burning a hole in my pocket and decided against all of my usual impulses to not spend it on myself. When the flowers arrive, the response from Margaret’s female colleagues is invariably along the lines of, “oh, Man, Andrew must have really messed up!”

What? Whatwhatwhat?

My initial impulse to take offense is almost immediately suffused in an overwhelming sense of pity for these women. I can’t help but feel sorry for anyone who only receives tokens of affection from their significant other when said other (“said other”?) has first done something to really piss them off. That’s nothing but sad.

And just so we’re all on the same page here, I don’t consider myself to be some kind of award-winning life partner. I’m a good husband: I make sure my wife knows how much I love her, I do my chores, I have the common sense to turn our household finances over to her so that we have a house and a retirement fund instead of a shitload of cool electronics and tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt. But I’m not one of those husbands in the Kay Jewelers commercials. I don’t shower my sweetie with gifts, compose her love poems, take her out dancing (hate dancing, have ever since some girls made fun of me at a dance in sixth grade….yes, I’m still working out shit that happened to me a quarter-century ago, you got a problem with that?), I don’t fill the bedroom with candles and rose petals. And yes, I occasionally make a selfish, immature ass of myself and have to rethink my game plan and maybe make amends. I’m not fairy tale good. I’m not even FTD-ad good. But I’m good.

But my God, how low, how selfish, how unfathomably crummy do all these other boyfriends, husbands, life partners and fuck-buddies out there in the world have to be to make me feel—much less look—like Husband of the Year? We’re not even talking about the abusers, the embezzlers, the cowards who refuse to tarp their load and then run like rabbits when they find themselves on the threshold of Daddydom. This is a higher order of domestic life form than these despicable human skidmarks. But, in one sense, these middle-of-the-road types are even harder to justify to my way of thinking than the true predators out there. A woman—I’m restricting these observations primarily to the heterosexual relationship, though of course every possible human interrelational dynamic must apply to both hetero- or homosexual couples, but my personal observations tend to be geared more towards my own orientation—who gets into a relationship with a pure abuser is likely to do so because of some pathology of her own, over which she may not have much control at this stage in her life. But the woman who finds herself “trapped” in a relationship with an irresponsible foot-dragging recliner carbuncle would seem to have far less to explain her choice….or at least her continued refusal to choose an alternative. Oh, sure, she’s probably still acting out the roles she experienced at home as a child, as is the guy in this scenario. But we’re all Adult Survivors of Childhood to one degree or another; at some point you have to start acting on your own initiative and in your own best interest. A pathological tendency towards shacking up with bums would seem to be on the lower end of the scale in terms of behaviors to overcome.

Amongst our circle of friends there is almost none of this sort of dynamic between partners. There are a lot of factors involved in this, I am sure; level of education, level of income, family upbringing, to name a few. But the fact that these relationships are populated almost to a one by strong-willed women who simply do not tolerate this sort of bullshit factors heavily into it. While I am certain that all of my male counterparts in these couples are, like me, conscientious and attentive partners within the limits of our capabilities, were we to suddenly decide to comport ourselves otherwise, we’d have one or perhaps two chances to clean up our act before we were out on our asses.

And this is the way things should be. This is hardly an original observation, but men are like dogs; we’re opportunistic and aggressive, but with a little effort we can be domesticated. A bit of common sense in the initial selection is recommended, but the effort can really pay off.

And if for some reason the training doesn’t take hold, there are millions of us out there just waiting to be adopted into a good home. Just remember, ladies; the mutts and mongrels often make better pet—um, partners than the purebreds, no matter what we look like. 😉

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