Live from lockdown Ammo Grrrll meditates on HUSBANDS: A Long and Winding Meditation in the Wuhan Era. She writes:
First of all, let me stipulate that I know almost no single men. By this age, virtually all the men I know are husbands. And darn good ones. I am a big fan of men in general. In my mind, the male sex is tied for First Place in my Favorite Sexes Competition. But, sadly, not all husbands behave as well as the ones I am privileged to know.
There are many varieties of terrible husbands in the world: wife-beaters in sweat-stained wife-beaters; raging alcoholics; a wide variety of druggies (only a vanishingly-small number of which are obscenely wealthy Ukrainian utility board members named Biden); chronic cheaters (see, Also, Ukrainian utility board members named Biden); spendthrifts. And I have even known three women whose husbands lied to them about being heterosexual. The poor ladies didn’t even have any animus toward gay guys – they just didn’t want to be married to one! Seems reasonable.
I recall one of Letterman’s great Top 10 Lists, when I believe the topic was Top 10 Ways You Know Your Husband Is A Loser. The #1 way was “His teenage girlfriend shoots you in the head.” So, yes, Joey Buttafuoco would definitely be on my Top Three Terrible Husbands List, though it would be a 3-way tie.
The second of that Terrible Troika would be Anthony Weiner, afflicted with the same attraction to very young girls. Is that because adult women have been around long enough to guess that anyone with the self-inflicted moniker of Carlos Danger was undoubtedly a terrible in the sack, despite his deep infatuation with his own pectorals?
And, lastly, George Conway would be the third leg on the Stool of Husbandly Disgrace. Poor long-suffering KellyAnne. To be constantly humiliated and undermined in your professional life by a bloated gasbag attacking your employer – who also happens to be the President of the United States — on a regular basis would be more than I could take, for sure. Okay. It’s possible for couples to have opposing political views, although I am very glad Mr. AG and I have always been on the same page. But, for example, Mary Matalin, and James Carville not only manage not to humiliate each other in the public square, but have even found a way to monetize it. Yay for capitalism! I wouldn’t personally pay a nickel for their shtick, but I don’t begrudge them the fact that some people did.
Parenthetically, isn’t it remarkable how when Conservatives don’t like a piece of theater, a musical act, a political speaker, we just don’t go? We turn off the radio or television or at least change the channel. But when Stalin-worshipping leftists don’t like something, they must disrupt it, cancel it, and PREVENT anyone else from enjoying it or attending? Why is that?
As a teenage girl, I tried to be a kind of Stealth Presence, lurking near the adults to observe unseen and listen and learn. The husbands of the ’50s were almost all WWII vets. They worked hard, but were not “woke” in the current meaning of the word. At least in small-town Minnesota, there was a pretty ossified and traditional division of labor.
Cooking – with few exceptions – was for women; childcare, which was incredibly time-consuming and moist, was DEFINITELY for women. Was it not 17th Century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes who observed that “Children are sticky, cutish, and short”? (Wait, that may have been Wm. Robt “Billy Bob” Hobbes, Tom’s slightly less depressing cousin…) On the rare occasions when men minded small children, they called it “babysitting,” not “parenting.” Daddy babysat us while Mama was at Bridge Club. We were routinely in bed by 6:30 p.m. “Okay, kids, hit the hay!” “But, Daddy, we get to watch Bonanza.” “One of the Cartwrights will fall in love with a girl and she will die by the end of the hour. Brush your teeth and get in bed.”
In our family, after a lavish company dinner, the men repaired to the den to smoke and watch an athletic event. Mother, who had just spent hours cooking, would now clean up with the other ladies. Frequently, Mother never even sat down for the meal. In my house, men were always served first, then company ladies, then family. At all family holiday events, a cheerful gaggle of Old Aunties cooked and cleaned up. Now I AM the OLD AUNTIE. My only alternative was to move far far away.
And so it is possible that some things needed minor tweaking in the name of fairness. Back in the early days of the feminist movement, one of the worst offenses of the male species – long before the toxic “manspreading” and “mansplaining” – was the mantra that women “had to wash men’s socks.” As someone who had already been married for several years when the movement gathered steam, it puzzled me why SOCKS – more than sweaty t-shirts or briefs – were the worst thing unmarried women imagined they might be forced to touch while doing laundry. When I had my foster kids living with me, there were four males in residence, so I have washed my share of boy cootie socks. I’ll be danged if I can figure out why they came to represent all oppression. Or why they were worse than ladies’ socks, come to that.
In a couple of weeks, the famous novelist Max Cossack and I will have been married for 53 years. Though we are both retired now, we were also both self-employed for many decades of that time. We are totally USED TO sharing a home, all day, every day, in much more cramped quarters than we have now. We enjoy each other’s company. We have a lot of fun together. We are compatible and laugh a lot. We both have home offices, though only his has a door.
And yet … and yet … there have been times during this lockdown that I am quite sure each of us has looked at the other and thought, “I hope the next time I see that face… it’s on a milk carton.” You may feel like screaming, “GO SOMEWHERE.” But there is no place to go! So how much worse is it for people used to going to work, seeing workmates and friends, going to the exercise club on the way home, maybe out for wine with the girls or beers with the fellas, and coming home for a late dinner together and an hour of television?
Togetherness is great and if you don’t enjoy it a little bit, marriage would seem to be kind of pointless. But Good God Almighty, humans deserve and NEED some alone time, some privacy, some SPACE. And time with friends as well. Not JUST for the economy. Not JUST for our liberty. But for our SANITY. In late-breaking news, Max has a haircut scheduled for next week! Joy to the world! Maybe I can call Joe the Barber and offer him an enormous tip to cut very very slowly. Very.