founder of M.I.L.D.E.W.
Men with Intimacy and Learning Disorders Experiencing Women
Content to be Nobody
Last Fall, even before the arrival of Omicron, the wife realized my social distancing funk was not dissipating like it did for most people we knew. She worried because when I returned home from work, I’d stopped scratching our new rescue dog, who faithfully waits for me on the front porch every night, and once inside, I didn’t want to come to the dinner table to eat … on Thursday nights, I stopped playing masked poker with the boys, but I explained to her the masks hid who was bluffing.
The wife sat me down and suggested that every night I simply disappear into the backyard and look up at the sky, or I quickly retreat into the bedroom to watch ESPN propping myself up in our bed eating cheese doodles … all of which is wife-speak for sucking your thumb. She also told me something I’ll never forget – that I was becoming content to be nobody.
I have to admit, when I first heard her say that, it felt like a low blow. It’s common knowledge that guys don’t deal well with low blows. Only recently, at one of our M.I.L.D.E.W. meetings, did I learn that women don’t deal well with low blows either.
The wife went further and said I was becoming idle and uninvolved. She called my condition EDF – the ‘eat, drink, and fart’ syndrome that many men experience in their mid-50’s … look, the wife and I met just after she graduated from Sarah Lawrence where she apparently majored in being right, so thirty-one years ago, I knew what I was getting into when I met her. Yes, I do fart a lot. I’m not sure any more than when we met … so that’s on her in my book.
There’s this guy in group who I listen to a lot. This week, Jeremiah asked the therapist – “Does marriage always have to be a journey?” He added, “I don’t know about the rest of you guys, I know they’re supposed to be good for you, but I’m tired of journeys. I mean, my wife and I are good – last time I looked we’re still married. It’s just that everything in life these days has to be a goddamned journey … and that’s beginning to piss me off.”
Jeremiah might be unemployed, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t intend to ever over-exert himself, but the man has a point. Take the journey we all have at M.I.L.D.E.W. dealing with women. We’ve tried our best to understand what women want and when they want it, and for most of us, in spite of our efforts, we find ourselves continually coming up short. I asked the therapist “Is it us, or is it them?” She replied something like marriage is complicated and it takes two to tango. For that she went to graduate school?
So being a nobody – the more I thought about it, the more I realized as long as I bring home the bacon, like my father did, and his father before him, I’m trying to be honest here, but being a nobody – the more I thought about it, the more it didn’t seem like such a bad thing … as men get older, the less chores, the less pressure to be a man/ the better chance of not having a heart attack … so I’m thinking to myself, why bother overachieving when you can live longer by being a nobody. Besides, the wife has a PhD. Nobody here I come.
On the other hand, there is another possible reason for my funk – the wife’s sister, Joy. This despondency of mine might be more related to the fact that Joy has lived with us for months now, and this is not just me talking … the woman is completely nuts. Ask the kids. Ask our neighbors. Ask the guy at the liquor store.
You know how some people refuse to take the vaccine because it causes (pick one) sterility, male breast enlargement, the compulsion to vote Democratic, or blindness? Well, Joy – and believe me she’s anything but … how can I say this? Joy believes her body is a shrine and she’s currently trying her best to create a second identity so she can have both vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna.
Yup, all four shots and after that, both boosters … I kid you not. The woman aspires to be a pin cushion, which seems to me more like what Andy in our group calls a V.I.P., a victim in pursuit. So the wife thought it would be a good idea to rent an RV and tour America to cheer me up, you know, to get me away from my nine to five, get me away from my gloom, and most of all, for me to have time away from Joy and tour a country full of so much joy.
With optimism in our back pocket, we eventually decided to spend ten days of our only vacation time in Utah. I don’t get it – why do so many people feel they’ve found Heaven in Utah? Look, I gotta tell ya straight out, I’m afraid of Mormons. I had an accident on a ski slope once and I’m deathly afraid of any form of white-out.
These Mormons – do they all have square chins and prominent cheekbones? Even the women look like Mitch Romney. You have to give them credit, though – Mormon businesses are everywhere you look. And boy do they plan ahead. They pop out children like they pop out businesses, employing their progeny to work for them as soon as they know how to manage the cash register. I was lucky if my kids agreed to take out the garbage.
Unfortunately, the uneventful end of my story is that we wound up traveling in a rented RV through a number of Utah National Parks where I swear I will never go again – not because of the preponderance of Mormons, but because I’m done with traveling at 16 mph, forced to stare at tailpipes and absorb gasoline fumes, made to endure bumper stickers from Texas and Oklahoma asking me to Honk For Freedom. If only freedom were that simple.
Me? I need things that are far less convoluted … maybe watching ESPN and being content to be nobody is simply who I am these days. Maybe being a nobody is only a brief glimpse, a chapter, a chapter to stand between what comes next and what’s come before. Do a few hundred empty bags of cheese doodles have to define an entire book?
The wife is cool. She’ll forgive me for most anything I do as long as I shower. Besides, we’re still in Christmas mode and I told her my New Year’s resolution is to give Joy to the world … I think she misinterpreted what I meant.