Friday, February 12, 2010
Matrimonial sarcasm for Valentine's Day
My domestic wife speaks with a foreign accent detectable only to married men. It’s not German. Not French, nor Spanish.
The accent is sarcastic.
So I understood immediately she wasn’t being complimentary when she said, “Man, that’s some outfit you have on there.”
She was expressing a matrimonial concern that my disheveled appearance might offend the sensibilities of the people I encounter as I go about my daily routine.
I work all alone, use the drive-thru ATM and the self-scanner checkout at the grocery store. Other than family, my days are near devoid of human contact save for the lone appointment on the daily social calendar: Happy Hour with the boys. That’s it. Just me and about a dozen other dudes who -- and I don’t wish to seem judgmental -- are even uglier, balder, rattier and more ape-like in appearance than me.
And who cares? We like each other for who we are. The guys are always expressing how much they care about my well-being by asking things like, “You ever gonna pay me back that $20 you owe me?”
So my wife’s subtle shot at my appearance stings.
I remember back when our union was new and we’d be destined for a night of fine dining or a swank party.
I’d be dressed in my most dashing tailored suit, nice shoes shined to a high polish, bright accessories, a $60 silk tie dangling from my neck like a sartorial exclamation point.
She’d look at me, sigh with adoration and say those exact same words: “Man, that’s some outfit you have on there.” I could practically see the cartoon hearts floating out of her eyes.
I suppose I should describe the outfit that caused today’s sarcastic reaction.
The tattered gray cargo pants are dappled in the princess pink she and the girls chose for me to paint the walls of the second bathroom I now use only during intestinal emergencies.
I have a black Wild Turkey t-shirt beneath a green and olive pullover sweater that’s covered in a partially buttoned drab green, flannel-lined wind buster coat/shirt. For footwear, I’m wearing camouflage boots that keep me from slipping on the driveway I’ve shoveled 12 times in the last five days.
On top, and I just noticed this, I’m wearing a Wild Turkey hat that, dig it, matches my t-shirt. What a stylish coincidence! If I could time travel four hours into the future, I’d complete the promotional ensemble by sipping a nerve-soothing glass of the fine hooch.
But the outfit she was so pleased to disparage sends an important message during this, the most bitter winter of my 46 years. It says, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about how I look, I want to be warm . . . and drink Wild Turkey!”
The first part of the message is key.
My sole motivation is to be defiantly warm. If the Queen issued me an invitation to high tea I’d breach etiquette by insisting she provide long novelty straws so I could sip the Earl Gray through the fuzzy opening in my big puffy parka.
Because a winter like this makes me feel a kinship with the sailors serving in nuclear subs patrolling beneath Arctic Circle ice packs.
Venturing outside isn’t an option. The tedium is relentless. Morale is low. We’re all suffering from a cabin fever so acute that little things like the way we dress can become points of conflict.
One sassy sailor may insult an otherwise handsome sailor and hurt his tender feelings so much he may want to crawl into a bottle of Wild Turkey until the mission ends and it starts looking like golf weather again.
Hypothetically speaking, of course.
Valentine’s Day is Sunday. Maybe I’ll give her a thrill and dress up as the dashing young man who used to make her swoon all those years ago.
I’ll tell her that it’s worth it for me to dress up every single day, weather be damned, even if the only people who see me are the ones who matter most.
I’ll just have to convince her I’m not talking about her and our daughters. Not the boys in the bar.
See, I’m fluent in matrimonial sarcasm, too.