Irreverent Mama

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Every couple develops their own little rituals, little domestic patterns of behaviour, patterns that you very often scarcely notice, but which give comfort to both: the comfort of consistency, the comfort of familiarity. Two people moving in the comfortably worn, familiar, soothing patterns of mutually satisfactory domesticity.

Little rituals that you scarcely notice unless one of them drives the other mad.

Every night, when I get undressed for bed, I put such items as require it in the laundry basket, conveniently located on the floor next to the shelves on which our clothes are stored. Such items as can be worn again are hung or folded, and put away. Then I wash my face, read for a bit. If Matthew is in bed and awake, there's usually ten minutes of snuggling and talk before we turn out the light. Sometimes the snuggling becomes more ... focussed ... and takes considerably longer than ten minutes, but we'll fade to black on that. It is not the point of this post.

Every night, when he gets undressed for bed (often, though not always, at the same time as me), Matthew leaves his clothes in a heap on the floor beside the laundry basket. Then he brushes his teeth, reads for a while. (Ditto the snuggling and talk and fade-to-black as per paragraph above.)

I have no idea why his laundry has to spend the night on the floor. Usually (though not always) it makes it to the basket in the morning. I have asked him why; as I have utterly no recollection of his answer, it is clear to me that it was neither convincing nor compelling. However, whatever it was, it is both convincing and compelling for Matthew, because, happy in having explained all to my satisfaction, he blithely continues in this irksome habit. Not wanting to disappoint his cheerful self, and, because generally he does put it all away in the morning, I have decided to let it go.

So what if the socks'n'boxers'n'shirt'n'jeans sit in a rumpled heap in the dark overnight? No skin off my nose. Once it's dark, I can't see them. Once I'm asleep, I'm unaware of them. It's a small thing, a fleeting thing, an insignificant little quirk.


But here is my dilemma: To object to such a small thing would be petty, and I deplore pettiness. I will not admit it in myself, nor, worse, display it to the man I love. The nightly freeing of the laundry is a very small thing. And he has his reason -- whatever it was -- for this little domestic Chinese water torture ritual.

Despite all my nobler inclinations, despite my efforts to rise above it all, it still irks me. Whenever I pass by the laundry basket -- sometimes to see a sock, or even the sleeve of a shirt draped, in tantalizing potentiality, right over the rim! (Why not all the way in? Why? WHY?) -- it irks me.

So I've come up with a solution, brilliant in its simplicity. Every morning, when he is in the bathroom, I take from his pocket the largest value coin in there: a loonie or a twonie. So far, in two weeks of employing this new strategy, I have accumulated close to $20.

Now when I see that heap o'laundry in the evening, instead of an itch of exasperation, I feel a small rise of smug vengeance, knowing that in the morning, he'll pay for the privilege of parking his clothes outside the designated area.

It's a system that works for both of us. One of those little domestic rituals that evolve between couples, enabling us to rub along with minimum of abrasion, a ritual and a pattern that brings comfort and satisfaction to both.

And it's not petty. Nuh-uh. Not at all.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Some of you have been wondering what's happening here lately. One of you even worried that I'd given up blogging altogether. Not to worry!

I do have a project going, though, in my Real Name. I am going to tell you about the project, but I won't write my name here so as not to draw a certain family member, inveterate busybody with a tendency to moral superiority, and compulsive googler of friends and family, to this blog. However, if you go to Aisledash dot com and look at any of these posts, those are mine (and yes, that's my real name).

It's not an elite venue, I know. It's an entry-level writing job. One might even cynically call it sweatshop writing. Particularly if one knew what it paid. HOWEVER. It is writing, it is writing for pay, and I am loving it.

The reason I'm telling you this is not to brag, but because it's clear I'm going to need SOMEWHERE to talk the occasional weirdnesses over there.

For two weeks, it was calm, quiet, and unexceptional. And then, suddenly, one afternoon someone picked up on my post, "Lingerie for Him". Well, sixty THOUSAND someones. Yes, indeedy. That post got 60,000 hits in about three hours.

And, though I'd written about all sorts of male underwear options, I made a small little joke about the man-thong. (I am a live and let live person in matters of personal attire. Whatever floats yer boat, and all that. But as for me? Personally? I think thongs are a wee bit tacky. There are very, very few men -- or women, for that matter -- who look good in them. And those that do (the men, I'm talking about now) I don't find attractive: no matter how sleek and lovely their asses, they are too full of themselves. Lovely ass ON an ass, as it were.

Now, I'm quite ready to admit that my sample size, from personal experience, of men who might look good in a thong and would actually wear one, is small. But it is MY experience, and all I have to go on. He was a self-absorbed ass. So, my personal feeling is that buff men who'd wear them are self-absorbed asses.

But I said NONE of that in the post. NONE. I just tossed off one frivolous line about them. In a 300-word post outlining various options in masculine undergarments. (Because I am such an expert on the subject, don't you know ... )


I could have just written one line: "Man-thongs are tacky", stopped right there and saved myself the effort of the rest of the post. The comments, they came rolling in. Of the 60,000 hits, there were 60 comments. I let about 30 comments stand. The rest were absolutely too ridiculous (or too vile) to post.

We had Rob9 who complained about - and described, in excruciating detail - his manly bits. Then we had VENUS, who offered to give Rob9's sad parts a little encouraging lingual attention. And that just got Man4U so excited that HE COULN'T SOP HISSELF FRUM YELING. (That is pretty much how he expressed himself, though I paraphrase. Strangely, there was ne'er a spelling mistake in any of the many obscene words he used.)

Oh, and we mustn't forget the several homophobes. Nasty, they are. And TruckerDude, who ranted on about how he (a trucker dude) din't wear nothing but his big hairy ass under his kilt. Yes, yes. Thank you for the detail. I shall treasure that mental imagine, indeed I shall.

There were more, but this, I think, suffices to give you a picture. Just imagine these things pouring into your e-mailbox!

I have hereby decided that the collective maturity level of the American public in matters of sex is nine years old.

And, for the record, I was talking about UNDERPANTS. Gawd help me if I ever really talk about sex ...

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

From Denguy.

Four Things Meme.

Four Jobs I've Had:
1. Checker on a highway construction site
2. Childbirth class instructor
3. Medical editor
4. Teacher

Four Movies I'd Watch over and over:
1. Sense and Sensibility (Oh, that Col. Brandon! Beats the snot out of brooding Mr. Darcy in the masculinity stakes.)

I loved The Shawshank Redemption, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Thelma and Louise, but they all had scenes in them that, terrific as the movies undeniably were, I could just not bear to watch over and over again.

2. OH! Late addition: Fiddler on the Roof.

Four TV shows I really like (reality version)
I hate reality TV. I watched one episode (two?) of the first Survivor, and broke out in hives. Ugh.

Four TV shows I really like (non-reality)
I don't watch TV much. This past year, I have watched...
1. 10 or so episodes of House. (Bekah is a HUGE fan.)
2. 2 episodes of Grey's Anatomy. (Bekah is a consistent fan.)
and ... ummm ...
3. That's it.

But if I do like Denguy, and go back a ways to when I did watch regularly:
1. Seeing Things
2. Magnum, PI
3. M*A*S*H
4. Bill Nye the Science Guy (Okay, I watched with my kids, but I'd have watched even if they didn't want to!)

Four places I've gone on vacation:
1. England
2. Scotland
3. France
4. Nova Scotia

Four Favourite Foods
Ask me tomorrow, and you'll get a different set of four. The one constant? They'd probably all be spicey and/or have lots of cheese.

1. Thai coconut curries (wet)
2. Spinach paneer
3. Black beans and rice
4. Hot and sour soup

Four Websites I visit daily
1. Work it, Mom!
2. Woulda Coulda Shoulda
3. Greavsie
4. The Daily Dish

Four Places I would Rather Be
1. Tahiti
2. Tahiti
3. Tahiti
4. Tahiti
(Tahiti is my fantasy destination. Would the reality live up to the fantasy? Oh, likely not. But since the likelihood of my actually being able to compare fantasy to reality in this lifetime is pretty nearly nil, my illusions will almost certainly remain untainted by reality.)

Four bloggers I Tag:
Do I know four bloggers? Well, actually, I know lots more, in one incarnation or another. But tagging people makes me nervous, so you can tag yourselves. If anyone cares to do this, leave a link in the comment box.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

I look at my reflection in the mirror. And sigh.

"It's a nice shirt, otherwise, but I just don't like the neckline," I tell Bekah, who stands at my side, considering the image before us. "I hate it when the 'v' ends way up here. It should come down to..." I loop my finger at the nadir of the 'v' and give a vigorous tug, "... at least here."

She nods. "Yeah, because otherwise it looks like 'My boobs should be up here'..." She waves her hands roughly in the area of her clavical. Which, as it happens, is right where her 14-year-old breasts hang out. If such a word as "hang" can be used of their perky perfection.

"'...but I'm old, so they're way down here." The hands flicker somewhere slightly north of her elbows.


Thing is, she's nailed it. That's exactly what's wrong with the shirt. And, while not exactly a National Geographic woman, I am 46, and these reasonably substantial breasts have seen three pregnancies and a little over three years of nursing. Perky they ain't.

"Hey, missie. Enjoy those while you can, because you're built just like me." We are. Sometimes she borrows my bras.

She grins. "I am! But I just mean that shirt makes your boobs look old and saggy, not that they are."

And again, she's absolutely right.

The shirt is now in the going-to-Goodwill bag. My long-suffering, well-served and still-noteworthy breasts do not deserve to be so maligned.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

“I did start it. I mean, maybe I hit him harder than I intended. Maybe he didn’t realize it was supposed to be playful.” I'm on the phone with a good friend, venting, questioning, ranting, debriefing; trying to gain perspective on an event that had shocked me to the core a day prior.

“Your first marriage was abusive, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, but - “

“But nothing. There is never any reason to hit someone in the face. It is never all right for a man to hit a woman in the face. Don’t start excusing his behaviour.”

“I’m not trying to excuse his behaviour. I was shocked, humiliated and absolutely livid. I’m just trying to determine if my emotional reaction is fair, if it’s justified.”

“Your reaction is justified. Your poke in his stomach was playful. Everyone could see that. When you hit someone in the face, that is not playful. It's never playful. A blow to the face is intended to put you in your place, to establish dominance.”

“Huh. I hadn’t thought that through, but it would certainly explain the humiliation I felt. In fact, it was the intensity of my response that had me wondering whether I was over-reacting.”

OVER-REACTING???? You were the fucking BRIDE! This asshole didn’t just hit someone on the face, which would have been bad enough, male or female. He didn't hit some poor sap at a dinner party. He hit the fucking BRIDE, at her fucking WEDDING.”

Yes, indeed. At my very own wedding, the boyfriend of one of the guests smacked me across my face. Not just any guest, one of my two closest friends.

A moment to remember, indeed.

Let me recap.

The wedding had drawn to a close. People had met, people had congratulated and hugged. The ceremony - short, sincere, and touching - had gone without a hitch. More chatting, some eating, some drinking, and then a gradual drifting away of the guests until only a handful of us remained: me and my wonderful groom, my two friends, and the one friend's boyfriend of five years.

Now, I've met the boyfriend before, and we hadn't quite hit it off. We didn't not hit it off, either. I just didn't feel comfortable with him. He's a bit intense, a bit persistent, persistent to the point of aggression, almost. I've felt judged by him when my opinions didn't mesh with his standards. But we live in different cities, and I've not had a lot to do with him, so it didn't really matter. I did my best to be nice, because I value my friend and don't want to alienate her.


The five of us are chatting, and my local friend suggests that we three women get together before my out of town friend has to leave with the boyfriend. We've spoken many times of the possibility of getting together, the three of us, but never had we had such a good opportunity as this. Out-ot-town friend defers the decision to her boyfriend. She further defers the responsibility of asking to me. In BF's presence, she tells me, "YOU try asking BF."

So, it's my party. Though Matthew's entirely sober, I've had two glasses of wine, enough to put a small spring in my step, and we've all been getting along famously. Lots of laughter, a little flirting, lots of light-hearted fun. I'm feeling more comfortable with this fellow than I ever have. So, with everyone watching, I approach him, put my hands on his collar bone, say his name with a saucy grin and a bit of a wheedle in my voice. "Oswald? Do you-"

He shoots out an abrupt "No" before I finish my sentence. I stick out my tongue - done right, this is charming and coquettish and just a little naughty - I stick out my tongue at him and pop him in the tummy with my fist. Not enough to wind him, not enough to dent his (not too toned) abs. Just a poke.

He laughs and puts his arm around my shoulders so I am swung to face the others. And with his other hand, he slaps my face.

Had he poked me back in my stomach, I would have laughed. Had he smacked my ass, I would have grinned. Like my poke in the stomach, those would have been playful.

He slapped. my. face.

Everyone went suddenly silent. Local friend was dumbfounded. Out-of-town friend was uncertain. My groom was shocked. I don't know how the jerk was feeling. Triumphant? If I didn't want an Incident to mar the very closing moments of my wedding, I had to react carefully. I didn't want this to be The Thing that everyone remembered. I didn't want this bizarre event to taint the whole day for my sensitive husband. Further, if he comprehended the depth of my rage, he'd do something dramatic in defense of me. The way things were going at the moment, an incautious response from me could have this ridiculous Thing devolving into a fistfight between these two men. Further violence would taint the day for me even further.

So I swallowed my rage and humiliation, and smiled. Just as I had swallowed it so many times in my first marriage. Swallowed hard, smiled, said something - I forget what - light and flip and casual. Swallowed very, very hard, and moved across the circle to join hands with my beloved. My warm, kind, courageous, firm, sensitive beloved. Within moments the out-of-town friend is on her way, and my in-town friend is walking home with Matthew and me. She reads my mood well, and we talk lightly about how wonderful the afternoon had been. Which it had, all but that surreal 90 seconds.

Out-of-town friend called a couple of hours later on her cell phone, "just to check in", but in reality to probe about my response to the slap. She was in the car with him, so I didn't feel free to really get into it with her and besides, I was still recovering and not ready to talk about it. I said as much. As she hung up the phone, I heard her telling him I was "all right".

And I am, once again, shocked. On the two occasions in ten years when I've felt Matthew has treated someone inappropriately, I have responded clearly. Once, in private, "That was unkind. I think you need to apologize." Or once, in the presence of the offended person, just a shocked, "Matthew!" In the first case, he did not agree with my assessment of the situation, but the discussion that followed was respectful and helpful. In the second instance, he immediately realized what he'd done, and his apology to the offended party was immediate and sincere.

My 'friend' did no such thing. No shocked exclamation. Not even a dismayed murmur. No drawing him aside. Nothing. Though evidently distressed at the time of the incident, she drove away without a word, and then made the call for him. Is she abused? Not physically, I'm fairly certain. Is she emotionally abused? We've had that conversation. She says not. I'm not so clear. There's something "off" about that relationship, something that makes me uncomfortable every time I'm near it. But she won't hear it. I've tried to be there for her, for the time when she sees the nastiness in their dynamic, but that's over. A line has been crossed, and there's no going back.

This phone call, which he had not the integrity to make for himself, was for his own reassurance. He was not seeking to know how I felt - only that he was in the clear. He did not speak directly to me, and he did not apologize. He did not apologize!

Apparently, he thinks it's okay to slap the bride at her wedding.


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