Monday, July 20, 2009
Our straight, married friend Lenny once went so far as to joke that SJ's piano playing even made him want to sleep with SJ, who wasn't interested. "Narrow-minded f***er!" Lenny grumbled.
SJ can still play the heck out of a George Winston song. The problem is that after awhile it gets old. SJ may be a fabulous player, but he hasn't learned a new song in the dozen years that I've known him.
Everyone has initially charming characteristics-- party tricks, humorous anecdotes, and favorite jokes -- that grow tiresome in the umpteenth retelling. This may be a big reason that people divorce their spouses and start over: your wife may roll her eyes and grit her teeth, but just bring in a replacement and everything old is new again.
I mentioned my theory to SJ.
"So you're saying that I could trade in for a newer model wife and I wouldn't have to learn any new songs?" "Plus," he threw in gallantly, "you wouldn't have to hear the same songs over and over."
He was totally joking, but I was a little annoyed that he took my commentary as an appealing suggestion. I had to admit that on paper, this sounded like a reasonable option -- and a little too good for comfort. Time for Plan B.
It's a lot more work, but I guess we'll have to put an effort into keeping things fresh and not taking each other for granted. More shared activities, continued time together, lots of communication, yada, yada, yada. You know, like on Oprah.
And I'll look to SJ to learn a new piano song every decade or so, though no recitals when Lenny's over. No need to rub it in.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
My kids wear helmets on their bikes, booster seats in the car, and hold my hand when they cross the street. I chose a daycare with a webcam. I don't let them run with scissors.
I occasionally take my caution to neurotic levels, like when I videotaped a new babysitter before we left (similar to using The Club on our car steering wheels in the nineties; it wouldn't prevent a criminal from kidnapping my child, but it might make her pick the next kid instead) and when I used a thermometer to check my bath temperature when I was pregnant (it was in the baby books, so it must have been important.) In general, though, I think that I usually strike a reasonable level of over-protection.
Unfortunately, there's only so much you can do, as I learned yesterday at the pool. Everything turned out ok, but it left a mark.
My kids take swimming lessons, are extremely comfortable in the water, and wear lifejackets when they are anywhere near our dock at the lake. I also make my two non-swimmers wear floaties or lifejackets when I'm outnumbered at the pool.
Unfortunately I can't watch them every single minute.
Last night we went to our neighborhood pool for the older kids' swimming lesson and stayed afterwards to play in the pool. It was a particularly fun evening, since all three kids -- even little Bennett -- were jumping off the side of the pool for the first time without me catching them. After an hour of "on your mark-get set-go...SPLASH!" I began collecting our things to go home.
The lifeguards were on a break, so all the kids were cleared from the pool. I got everything into our bags, took lifejackets off, and headed for the exit. I noticed that our diving rings were still in the pool, so I got in to retrieve them. The last lingering lifeguard was helping me fish the last ring from the filter when I heard a splash behind me.
I turned around and saw Colin -- my best swimmer -- facing away from me in the pool. "Honey, the lifeguards are on a break. We can't be in the pool..." Then I saw Colin looking at me quizzically from up on the dock. In that second I realized, horrified, that it was little Bennett -- not Colin -- in the pool.
"OH MY GOD, THAT'S BENNETT!" I yelled. The lifeguard and I rushed to him, and a moment later he was safe in my arms. He surfaced with wide, terrified eyes, then bawled for the next five minutes.
The lifeguard said later that this all transpired in about three or four seconds. To me, it seemed like an eternity; my heart rate still hasn't returned to normal. I keep seeing his little blond head under the water; I suspect this is now a permanent image in my head. Bennett is fine, though he has brought it up a few times: "I falled in and then I cwied." I'm the one with emotional scars.
As expected, it kept me up last night. After waking with a start at 4:00 a.m., thoughts of these three or four seconds kept me up for an hour. What if I hadn't been right there? What if he jumped into the deep, dark lake instead of the clear water of the pool? What if, what if, what if?
Despite all the padding, restrictions, and advice we give our kids, they have a mind of their own, and sometimes free will is a bitch. When they're little, they don't know any better, and it doesn't get much better in adolescence. Having co-invented a game called "Drivers from Hell," played lights-off car tag in a cemetary, and attended my fair share of frat parties in my youth, I know of which I speak.
And as if human stupidity weren't enough, there's life/fate/chance to reckon with. I think of Olympian Cody Marshall's parents; they spent decades trying to keep him safe on the ski slopes, yet he's currently in critical care due to a combination of bad choices and bad luck at a shopping mall. You just never know, so you do what you can.
As I crawled back into bed before dawn this morning, I made SJ promise to never let the kids out of arms' reach without a life jacket at the lake.
"OK," he agreed sleepily. "On the bright side, I bet this cures your writer's block."
Friday, July 3, 2009
My husband, SJ, has been robbed several times. He recounted another incident to me last night while watching an episode of Gene Simmons' Family Jewels (I know, I swore off reality TV, but there was NOTHING on!)
Turns out that SJ totally could have thought up the idea for KISS. I was commenting on a room in Simmons' palatial mansion featuring KISS memorabilia, SJ muttered, "Right place, right time."
Surprised to hear this, I countered that it was pretty impressive that the immigrant son of a divorced holocaust survivor started a completely original rock phenomenon, but SJ remained unmoved. Apparently if he were in the same situation, SJ would have thought of it himself. Grown men dressed in full face makeup parading onstage in a macabre spectacle set to heavy metal? COMPLETELY OBVIOUS!
This contemptuous, embittered sliver of my husband's personality is fascinating to me. In general, SJ is a total mensch - kind, gentle, unpretentious. It's this last trait that is apparently double-edged. Since he has taken the high road, it really bugs him when others exploit things that are generally available. He could have been a groundbreaking, blood-drinking rock superstar, for example, but he didn't.
SJ finds the Wiggles to be irritating for the same reason.
You may know the Wiggles as a colorful, kid-friendly fixture of preschool culture. SJ thinks of them as no-talent ass clowns in bright t-shirts who are undeservedly the highest-grossing entertainment act in Australia.
SJ kicks himself everytime he sees or hears the Wiggles. "These guys are raking it in? Are you kidding me???"
We don't listen to the Wiggles in our house.
Occasionally, SJ's contempt extends to seemingly innocent civilians. An acquaintance's husband is known for his "sensitive, new-age guy" persona. Steve sees it as an act that he himself left behind in college.
When I mention something charming that Robert did (or "F'ing Robert," as SJ calls him), SJ immediately starts rolling his eyes. When Robert -- an artist by trade -- skillfully decorates a dinner table, hangs tapestries for a wedding, or brings us a tray of tea, SJ calls him out as a poseur. "That's so transparent - the senstive guy! Let me guess, was it chamomile tea (it was)??? Give me a break!"
The worst culprit of all is John Mayer. To SJ, Mayer is a complete sell-out, slapping on a fake persona just to get money/fans/laid.
"Your body is a wonderland, fathers love your daughters, high school sucks. Blah, blah, blah!"
Clearly, SJ could have done the same thing, but he didn't. Or maybe he's secretly mad because he did do the same thing, and it didn't work quite as well, thus leading to his "right place, right time" theory. Maybe little SJ was also dressing up as a goth rocker in 1977, but Chaim Witz (Gene Simmons) got all the glory. How else to explain it, but arbitrary fate?
At least, in my heavily biased opinion, SJ got the girl. Now where is that chamomile tea?
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Pride - What is your biggest contribution to the world? It's the thought that counts, and I've tried many great things. World peace, eco-friendly living, philanthropy. You're welcome!
Envy - What do your coworkers have that you wish was yours? The ability to not give a rat's ass about anyone but myself! Off with their heads! (This answer really deserves its own therapy session.)
Gluttony - What did you eat last night? I gave in to the irresistable lure of one last down-and-dirty night of Harris Teeter's "Super Coupon" sale. Mommy like!
Lust - What really lights your fire? When my husband cleans the whole house while I'm at the spa (at least I'm pretty sure that would inspire lust. I'm totally willing to give it a try, Tiger!)
Anger - What is the last thing that really pissed you off? When my blog tool totally gooned up my carriage returns. (I'm sorry; I've been informed that blog machinations are completely uninteresting, but in a dearth of witticism, I've turned to the truth)
Greed - Name something you hoard and keep from others: The good ice cream/cake/candy that I hide from my children. They're cute, but they're like insidious food Dementors, trying to horn in on my stash!
Sloth - What’s the laziest thing you ever did? Well, I should be cleaning my house right now, but that's not happening, is it...?