There are a lot of men in trouble these days. Donald Trump, for anything you can think of, Boris Johnson for emulating him, and Justin Trudeau for brown-facing and enjoying the dramatic life just a little too much. There are others who’ve been caught harassing women, men, and children. Some out there are thinking, why is nobody pointing the finger at Mick Jagger? I’m sure he’s done something. Every rock and roll band from the seventies has to be guilty of SOMETHING. Anything went, back in the day, if you were rich and famous. Even if you weren’t. But nobody cared. Nowadays, men are always in trouble.
The married ones, anyway. Since my husband died, I am exercising my ‘man chastisement’ muscle on my brother in law, Bob. He’s a good sport, and since I often stay at their apartment in Winnipeg, I have plenty of opportunities.
One morning, I entered the bathroom and drew back in horror. In a small dish by the sink were two shrivelled brown things resembling:
a. Preserved and shrunken (but not by much) penises
b. Two cooked hot dogs left over from last summer.
c. Something the witch from Robin Hood, (the Kevin Costner version) would use to cast a spell.
I was informed that this hideous couple of lumps was once soap on a rope. Bob is thrifty, and also sentimentally attached to the thing. It looked like wood, he said fondly, but now the bar had shrivelled into a left over body part from Night of the Living Dead. Bob’s defensiveness made me nostalgic for the days when my husband was in trouble.
There were the clothing offences, like his penchant for high tide pants and loud shirts. There was his sense of humour that was almost always fun until it wasn’t. Like the time he was the MC for a Chamber of Commerce dinner. The trick with Clarence, who was not generally a big drinker, was to keep him from imbibing BEFORE he had to speak. This time he decided to warm up the crowd with a story about a man who was well known for his moose calling skills. After setting up the scene nicely (a cold fall day, breath in the air, the sense of anticipation) my husband leaned into the mike and said:
“Come here, you fucking moose.”
By the stunned silence that followed, he came to understand that perhaps he’d misread the room. I can’t remember much about the rest of the evening because of my shock, but I know that a wifely smackdown took place once we got home.
It doesn’t need to be a thing of this magnitude to make wives feel irritated. Hearing from friends and strangers, I’ve realized that any of the following may get a man into trouble at home:
1. Loud throat clearing or nose blowing, especially over the phone, as well as excessive coughing. Having a cold is generally not considered an excuse.
2. Pretending to clean out the garage while basically farting around and rummaging through all the old junk lying about, then simply moving it across the room.
3. Disregarding our health advice, no matter how good it is is or how long we drone on about it.
4. Being gormless: ie: bewildered by our ongoing and ever changing expectations and their own constant failure to live up to them.
5. Walking around with stunned expressions. Not knowing they’re walking around with stunned expressions.
6. Snoring, having sleep apnea and not believing us. Telling us we snore too, which we never believe.
6. Basically, whatever gets under our skin on any particular day. They won’t know what it is until we tell them, which we don’t often do, choosing instead to make them guess. They never get it right. (Is it the socks? Wearing my underwear two days in a row?) We turn away, disgusted. Why can’t they read our minds like they’re supposed to?
Dear women of the world, (and gay men who feel the same way) I’m not defending the other team, or making excuses for the things men do that drive us crazy. I’m just saying, mine would be in a lot less trouble with me now than he used to be, if only he weren’t dead. Though now that I think about it, he’s still in trouble for that.