Making my wife happy
My wife has never said this, but I get the impression she loves the fact I am out of shape and stupid.
My kid’s fourth birthday party got me thinking about it. As I looked around the swimming pool, I saw something pretty impressive. Scattered across the landscape were women who spend hours working on their bodies–toning legs, buffing-up arms, and tightening stomachs. Standing at a respectable distance from the ladies were men of my ilk. Some had beer bellies and big foreheads like me. Others had hairy backs. We were, as a group, a picture of the suburban, sloppy male. National Geographic is considering doing a feature.
This phenomenon is no accident. The moment our wives start seeing us look good, they will start asking questions. For instance, if my wife suddenly noticed me building muscle and cardiovascular ability, she would get suspiscious.
“And who might you be doing that for?” she would ask. Then she would hire a private detective.
With precious few exceptions, suburban men are of a similar mindset. It goes like this: I love her, she loves me, and if I get in shape, she is going to think I’m cheating on her. As my friend G-Rob said later, “Getting caught with a Stairmaster in the garage would be the same as having a condom in my wallet.”
So, that’s why I kept my shirt on at my boy’s birthday party. It’s embarassing for me to maintain this sloppy physique (again, to keep my wife happy) and be around a pool full of women who spend ten hours a week in the gym. I also stayed very quiet and made sure not to do anything that seemed the least bit impressive. I burned myself on the grill. I tripped over a few things. There was next to no chance that I was going to stand out as the guy who might be trying to catch the eye of Suburbanas Wifeus.
After an hour or so, however, I got the impression that I wasn’t doing a good enough job at looking stupid, sloppy, and incompetent. So, I stood in a patch of grass for five minutes and chatted with a friend. I waited until the appropriate quiet moment, then I danced around like I was a little girl with her knickers on fire. I waited for my mother-in-law to scream, “Put your feet in the pool! Put your feet in the pool!”
Then I put my feet in the pool and sighed like a cartoon character who had just jumped in a lake to put out his fur-conflagration. And there I was. Completely, without question, and exceptionally undesirable to any woman at the pool or on the planet.
I’d never even heard of a fire ant until I moved to Mississippi in 1997. I learned my lesson quickly when I got down on a knee in front of a pile of them and said, “Hey, little guys! What are you up to?” And then I screamed like a little girl with her knickers on fire.
For those of you who live in areas not blessed with the fire ant, the process goes like this:
- Mild irritation akin to “Hmm, something feels a little odd. I think I’ll ignore it.”
- The feeling off a thousand tiny needles pricking you at once. “Hmm, that hurts like a mother. I think I’ll scream like a little girl.”
- Scream like a little girl.
- Several days of itching and ugly boil-like things on the affected area that make you say, “I am a very good husband.”
My wife has never looked at me with such desire. She knows how much I love her. It’s evident in my expanding waistline, retreating hairline, and fire ant bites. Just to show me how much she loves me, she’s been spending hours upon hours in the gym with a personal trainer.
I haven’t thought to ask his name yet.