Strong as Gay

      John Stillman, AKA JAck wrangler – “The Marlboro man”

I was talking with a good friend this morning.  We were lamenting on the fact that we were both sort of married to the Marlboro Man, well different versions of, not the same guy, lest you be confused.

You know.  The Marlboro Man!  Rugged.  Strong.  Masculine.  Not bad to look at.  Works hard.  With their calloused hands no less, which always have grease lined-nails and jagged edges.   Yes, they are the quintessential man’s man who know the definition of HARD WORK and have an inexhaustible supply of energy to draw from in order to work– usually ten or twelve hours (on a slow day).

Maybe you know a Marlboro Man.  He probably smokes.  And cusses when he gets mad.   They leave the seat up just for you, ladies.  They like steak and potatoes and they despise casseroles and anything that comes from a recipe.  They like a nice cold one after work.  They like Monday night football and they don’t do chick flicks—ever!  They don’t see dust and above all they never ever cry.

They’re Dodge Ram tough!  They fix transmissions and they fix broken sinks.  They have tools that are too heavy for you to carry.  But mending broken hearts?  That’s another matter.

Ah yes, these steel boned, iron-willed men are what we chose and what we are indeed grateful for.  But sometimes, if life were absolutely perfect, we wonder what it’d be like to at least borrow a man like this:

Strong as Gay

     Yes, I said it.  For just one night, I want a reprieve from reality.  I want to spend time with someone who is characteristically and  fastidiously neat and would be horrified to see urine on the side of the porcelain and would instantly reach for the nearest spray bottle of Clorox.

In this alternate universe we’d have our moment.  My dream date would go down something like this:

First, I’ll go out to dinner to an elegant restaurant with a name I can’t pronounce, attached to the arm of a man who has never publicly belched or farted and knows what a linen napkin is for.  I want to see that Polo pony emblazoned proudly on his shirt in all its embroidered glory.    Yes, this is the steed for me.

I want to smell some nice Givenchy or Hermes with fruity overtones waft across the candlelight as this beautiful man sits there and compliments profusely my long ago-forgotten beauty.  As he gazes into my forty-something eyes, he’ll reach for my hand and hold it softly in his, as I’m acutely aware of how his baby-bottom like soft skin touches mine.  He’ll look longingly into my eyes as he gently inquires how was my day and how am I doing?  Yes, how are you actually doing–he’ll insist on knowing.  Then he will even wait for and even listen to my response. 

Even if it involves tears.

Especially, if it involves tears.

    “Oh dear, dear, dear, dear,” he’ll say as he wipes my eyes.  “We can’t have this.  This absolutely won’t do; your mascara will run.”  At this point, this perfectly caring strong beautiful man will jump up and then kneel down beside me on my side of the table and wipe my tear before it even starts the slippery descent down my cheek.  He’ll lean over and kiss the crown of my head and my heart will just melt.  I will think for a moment what did I ever do to deserve such a sensitive man.

By the time the maître d arrives, the perfect Pinot Noir has already been ordered and the definite possibility of dessert is being discussed.  No, make that relished.  We are laughing as we fork through our shrimp and avocado salad discussing dessert choices.   Next the topic of conversation will slowly shift to the time-treasured topic of:

Hopes and Dreams

     We’ll slowly savor each bite of our pan-seared salmon entrees with asparagus as we spend a good hour discussing the finer details of the above-mentioned topic.   Yes, I’ll try and get a word in edge-wise about what about you and your dreams, but this strong as gay man will have none of it.  We’re not here to discuss me he’ll say; tonight is all about you.  “But it’s not even my birthday,” I’ll insist.  “Shush, shush,” he’ll say, “as you were saying?”  He’ll beg for more details in his compassionate quest.

After dessert, we’ll sit facing one another in his new luxury Mercedes S class Sedan.  As I inhale the fresh-off-the-lot cleanliness of new leather, I’ll surreptitiously notice that not a solitary object exists in his car, save for the most recent copy of Architectural Digest and Traditional Home tucked neatly away in the backseat.  He’ll check his watch and remind me that we still have an hour before the movie starts.  He’ll ask me which movie I want to see more, the one with Sandra Bullock or the one with Hugh Grant.  He’ll tell me he is good either way.

We’ll continue talking about life and he’ll offer wisdom and real words of encouragement when I mention the things that are bothering me.  He’ll lean over and say, “Is it okay if I just hold you?”    This will make me cry and I’ll say, “Of course!”  Then I’ll start crying in that slobbery kind of way reserved only for deaths of loved ones and true break-downs, and he’ll just keep holding me and have a hanky close by on ready reserve just waiting to wipe away my tears.  In between sobs and slobs, he’ll just say, “There, there, it’s gonna be okay.”  And he’ll just lightly kiss the side of my face once or twice but mostly he’ll just hold me.

I will calm down and feel strangely comforted.  I may even feel like this is LOVE.   I’m relieved because I know I don’t owe him anything later for this abundance of kindness and caring.

As the evening winds down, we’ll finally go and see our movie.  We’ll laugh and cry together as we stuff our already full bellies with popcorn, soda, and chocolate.  Yes, we’ll have lots of chocolate.   He’ll probably reach over for my hand just to hold it during the tear-jerker scenes.

Finally, he will take me home.  He’ll look into my eyes one last time and say, “Thank you darling for tonight. It has been such a lovely evening.  You mean the world to me!  Never change, okay?”

We’ll lightly peck one another’s lips as I savor one last time the smells of his car, of him, of a reality that isn’t mine, never was, and never will be.

He will drop me back off at the house of the Marlboro Man.  The house where I live.  The house where there is both duty and love.  Heartache and heart full.  But every now and then, I will pine for the man who comfortably wears pink, has a small stud earring and smells really good, and a heart that goes so deep I think I’d like to drown there for just a little while sometimes.

Yes, we suburban wives of Marlboro need just such a strong man sometimes or at least the dream of one.  Even if it goes up in a puff of smoke.

Post Script:  John Stillman who played Jack Wrangler, aka The Marlboro Man, first worked as a model, than became well-known for his rugged good looks as The Marlboro Man.  He then went on to become a porn star and died from emphysema at age 62 in April 2009.

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Life is Messy

Murphy was an optimist.  ~O’Toole’s Commentary

      Life is good!  At least that’s the theme of a certain trendy store full of happy clothing, coffee mugs, baseball caps, bumper stickers, hiking gear and the like.  Yeah, it’s good alright, but it’s also downright messy!    Ask any mom of one or more, and you will find confirmation.  In fact as I write this, I’m thinking I may want to market my own clothing line “Life is Messy*” with a disclaimer on the back that says “And That’s The Stinkin’ Truth!”

Wear one of my shirts, and barf and poo will just look like the latest urban trend in fashion design.    You’ll be more than shabby chic, you’ll be the genuine article of the Life Is Messy cult following.  Wear your stains as badges of honor.  The more you have the better parent you clearly are.   Digging in the garden?  Throw some extra dirt on there for good measure.  Kid has a blowout diaper, and you’re out of wipes?  That’s what the shirt is for dad!  Forgot the Kleenexes?  Again, use the shirt.  No hand sanitizer?  Get real!  Use that shirt mama!

Here’s the rub.  That cute little baby you see above?  Well, he grew.  He finally stopped sharing his mama’s milk and his lunch by yellowing every shirt I ever owned, but all that really happened was that the mess was reconstituted into new form.  Now very door frame has a tinge of blackness, and dark fingerprints and hand prints dot the mid line of our walls like ghost chair railing.    Shoes that trampled in dirt have darkened our ivory carpet to a dingy shade of brown.  While the broom catches it’s breath in the closet, the house silently screams, “Warning!  Children live here!”

See I have older kids too.  I’ve already been thru this—twice, in fact.  One day you’ll look back, and you’ll agree it pretty much will have happened like this:

The first few years go by, and the expensive art prints you had framed when you were single will have been replaced by collage frames of your children, of all different ages and places haphazardly thrown together in a single frame.   And of course the real art work.  Yellowing and corner-curled preschool paintings dot your walls and smother your refrigerator.    You know you really should get rid of some of it, but just what if your child really is the next Renoir prodigy?

After five or six years, you’ll tire of sorting and organizing the thirty or so plastic tubs and fabric bins in shelves that you once had the novel  idea that you and your child could practice “sorting skills”.  Now the lessons in sorting get reduced to, “Get this CRAP off the floor right now; I mean it, or this time I really will throw it all away.”

The calendar pages keep blowing into the wind.  Soon you are in the elementary years with school projects and friends and sleep overs.   More food; more footprints.   Bug collections, princess costumes, thousands of stuffed animals,  Barbies, Legos, Beanie Babies, Poke E Mon cards, happy meal toys,  DVDs,  VHS-tapes (if your kids are “old school”), train sets, board games, paperback books, hardboard baby books, rock collections, sticker collections, crafts, and a few hundred other things move in when you aren’t  paying total attention.  While you are sleeping, the toys all have breeding parties and when you wake up, you find they multiplied, but still you’ll be too tired to pick it all up.    Though you’ll weed things out from time to time, they’ll still viciously and systematically take over your house room by room.

Three years of middle school will come and go faster than a rotating door in a hotel lobby.  With these years comes “The Age of Electronic-us”.  Each child will successfully convince you their life will cease to be fully functional without any of these necessary items:  cell phones,  Wiis, Super Nintendos, Guitar hero guitars, digital cameras, portable car DVD players, Ipods and Ipads, Laptops, and chargers, so many chargers.  The batteries that made you nuts only a few years ago, get replaced by long spindly, tangled up things that live like nomads roaming your house and are never in sight when desperately needed.  It’s all good; you’re thinking if the Dollar Tree ever has a half-price sale, you may even try to get some new clothes for yourself one of these days.

By high school, you’ve made an uneasy truce with living a “highly charged” life and you are just mentally counting down the 1,460 days or so left, of “Life with Baby”.    The choking hazards of yesteryear have been replaced by the scary realization that the child who still doesn’t know how to properly put a comforter on a mattress is now actually driving five thousand pounds of deadly force with one or more equally mature friends to an alleged destination they possibly may have told you about three weeks ago.

Three hours after their curfew passes, you’ll attempt for the seventeenth time to get some answers.  You text them this profound philosophical question, “Where are you?” even though your eyes are growing dim, due to your advancing age of forty–plus.    Since their phone mysteriously doesn’t seem to ring or “must be on silent” when only you call, you’ll  get your answer texted back a few hours later, once the consensus has unanimously been crafted as to what is most likely to be the answer that will worry you the least.  Even if it’s a tad short of the truth, it’ll have to suffice for now.

Then the big day arrives!  Graduation!   Congratulations and celebrations ensue.  Suddenly—they’re gone.   You look at your house.  What happened?  The carpet’s long past shot.  Walls need to be repainted.  It’ll take years to just carry all this stuff to the Goodwill or the curb.  And all the ribbons, and trophies, and pictures, and artwork, what in the world are you going to do with it?  You know you have to get rid of it, yet how can you?  This picture they finger painted, this student of the week ribbon, this tattered Cinderella costume, this baseball trophy, that’s who THEY were!  Throwing some of this stuff out seems like parental heresy.

Family life is this:  It’s hard, with moments peppered with hormones, deadlines and cruel calendars, worry and fear, silent treatments and arguments.  It’s also good with clay pinch pots made just for you,  family vacations, hugs when you cry,  and handwritten cards that say, “I love you becuz yur my momy and you play wth me and let me eat chikn” as I tearfully received recently.    Through it all, life is messy.  Be sure to savor the sweetness found in the dirt!

 

Taken from A Friend’s Facebook Page — Author Unknown

The Ambiguity of Clarity (The Metaphysics of Taking Out the Garbage)


Metaphysics is a dark ocean without shores or lighthouse, strewn with many a philosophic wreck.  ~Immanuel Kant

“Let me be clear,” someone will say as they proceed to dole out specific instructions, demands, or an account regarding what happened, or what will happen.   Chances are, many of you will forget everything said after those first four words.

“Why didn’t you take out the trash?” I asked my husband as I toted the trash out to the bin for the ten hundredth time.   “I asked three times and you said you would,” I muttered resentfully.

After all I’m tired too!  I worked today, and have slightly more to do each morning than simply put my wallet in my back pocket and go. Did I feed the cats?  Are all the beds made?  Is the house cleaning itself as much as it can before I walk out, that is are the dishwasher and washer and dryer all going?  Did I check the back pack?  Is homework done?  Are notes from teachers replied to?  Is snack packed?  Did I write the lunch money check so my child won’t have vegetables only for the third day in a row?  Did I gather  all my necessary work supplies, cell phone (is it charged I pray?), IPODS, car charger cord?  Did I grab the grocery list of staples to cram in after work, but before my son gets off the bus?  And as I slam the locked door, and look down at my arms full of supplies, child, and breakfast on the run, I prayerfully beg God that once again, I made it out alive without forgetting the car keys and grateful I have an automatic shut off on my curling iron.

“I got a phone call.  Joey told me his next door neighbor is going to jail,” my husband says, as if this is a legitimate excuse for forgetting the trash.  What?  Joey who?  And this so called Joey’s next door neighbor has exactly WHAT to do with our lives?    “You know Joey–my brother’s friend,” he replies.  Then he’ll just stand there and tell me all about his brother’s friend’s neighbor’s sins as I have now moved on from re-bagging the trashcan to emptying the dishwasher, feeding the cats, and pulling out a can of whatever it is I deem is dinner worthy.

The story will drag on.  My husband will continue standing  there repeating the second-hand drama of someone I didn’t even know existed when my trash first started cascading over the brim.

I get it.  He’s tired.  He finds this story interesting.  But frankly, well, I care about it as much as he wants to read what I write, or hear about the lives of my friends, or best of all, talk “relationship” talk.  That hobby died many moons ago, probably our early thirties is my best guess.

The point is this.  I was so crystal clear.  I packaged my request in as few words as I possibly am capable of:  PLEASE TAKE OUT THE TRASH.  I tried to speak cohesively, coherently, and effectively:  DID YOU TAKE OUT THE TRASH YET?  And one final attempt, as I race upstairs to transfer another load of wet washed clothes to the dryer, before remotes are powered on, and brains check out, “YOU ARE GOING TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH ALREADY,  RIGHT?!?!”     Which part of my words were obscure or incomprehensible?

I race downstairs, after quickly folding a small basket of dry clothes, mentally choosing a dinner plan, eagerly hoping to get the family fed, kitchen cleaned, and spend a little quality time with our 6 year old son.   Then, hopefully if the planets of the universe line up exactly right, and all my chores are finished, maybe, just maybe, I can start on some writing before midnight.  One can hope, anyway.

In the grand scheme of marriage and of life, it’s not a big deal.  Deep down, I know this.  But on the surface of life, those repeating annoyances of everyday life, I’m sorry, but as Vice President Joe Biden would say, “it’s one BFD!” only for me, it’s not a blunder, but reality!  What is it about me I think that with pin point accuracy, often causes me to verbally hit the hubster’s aural blind spot?

Lest you think he’s a really terrible ogre, let me be clear; he’s not.  He’s worked over twenty five years, ten to twelve hour days bent over fixing cars so that our three kids were always able to do every sport, activity, group or team event they ever wanted to, send two of them to college, and every expense related to owning a home.  Now, nearing fifty, he goes to work enthusiastically each morning, knowing we still have at least a good twelve to sixteen years to go, counting college with our littlest one.  My husband took the brunt of the work load, so I could have the benefit of staying home when we could afford it, and working part time when we couldn’t.

In the department of selective hearing loss-impaired husbands, I take comfort in knowing I have a million moms as my sister wives.  I also know the problem is not me.    I state things clearly.  It’s just that men sometimes hear things ambiguously, another words, they hear things vaguely.  Their brain may process more than one interpretation.  Possibly, my husband thought I meant to take out the trash whenever he gets around to it, or one of these days, or just thought I was fleshing out an idea for a blog topic.

You see, marriage is built upon the foundation of The Uncertainty Principle.  Yes, it’s quantum physics, but trust me, you’ll clearly understand the dynamics here.  Basically, whenever the position of something is a known factor, it’s corresponding momentum becomes an unknown factor; and vice versa.  You see your spouse standing there.  You see the trash.  But will a movement occur here that will change the fundamental dynamics of your kitchen?  Or conversely, you see the trash can is now empty, but where in the world did my wife disappear to?

Yes, in marriage and in life, it’s about making our desires strategically clear.  Hopefully, there’s flexibility and forgiveness to see the big picture and enough faith to survive all that is ambiguous and uncertain from moments of inconvenience to disasters of epic proportions.  Clearly, you will have them, if you move or stand still long enough!

To teach how to live with uncertainty, yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy can do.  ~Bertrand Russell

Related Reading:  Transcendental Algebra and The Uncertainty Principle: http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p08.htm

Also I have read (it’s easy and fun!)and LOVE this very colorfully illustrated book:

The Principles Of Uncertainty

http://workrepository.com/work_pages/maira_kalman/index.html