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Archive for the ‘Random Glimpses’ Category

I’m taking a break from my somber “What’s the Point of Marriage?” series to bring you a stupid and rather pointless story. It is also a scandalous story. So, siblings, parents, or other easily-scandalized friends: you may want to redirect your browsers away from this page rather than reading on at this point. If you ignore my warning and go ahead, and as a consequence get the jibblies, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

* * *

This Christmas both sets of parents – that is, Ben’s parents and my parents – pooled their money so that Ben and I could get ourselves a couch as a Christmas gift. We needed it. Ben and I have a long, narrow, empty room in our house on the main floor that hasn’t had any furniture in it since we moved in two years ago. We refer to this empty room as our “gallery.” It makes it seem not-so-purposeless-and-weird. The walls are bedecked with framed Pre-Raphaelite paintings (prints, of course), medieval weaponry (OK, one sword) and a few of my own medieval-inspired drawings. Ben and I went to a few furniture stores to find the right couch and, with the money from the folks, picked out a sleek, mocha-coloured leather sofa that would fit in with the décor. Me likee.

We picked up the couch from the furniture store in Ben’s truck a couple days before Christmas. We unwrapped the plastic and cardboard coverings and set it up in our gallery. We then proceeded to test it out, with him seated normally and me sprawled out across the length of the couch with my legs over his knees. It felt so nice and cozy. We were both very happy.

“It’s long enough to lie down on!” I said happily.

“You know,” he said slowly, “We could totally have sex on this couch.”

I rolled my eyes. Of course that was the first thing he thought of when we were testing out our brand new couch in the gallery. He could turn anything into a love bed if he put his mind to it.

“We could also have sex under the Christmas tree,” I pointed out, motioning to the glimmering gold wonder in the corner. It was the only other substantial thing in the room.

Inexplicably, his eyes widened as if I had just made an outrageous request – as if I was being very foxy and seductive. He liked it. He was obviously totally misunderstanding me. I protested.

“I’m just saying! We – or anyone – could technically do it anywhere! There’s nothing especially sexy about this couch!”  I wanted to be clear: I was not making a request, I was making an observation. You can do it anywhere, technically, is what I was trying to say.

But he had already decided how to interpret my words.

It didn’t come up again (I swear!) until a few days later when we were at our friends’ house with a bunch of other married couples.  Ben and I were sitting on the floor next to their Christmas tree, and a couple of guys were sitting together on the couch nearby.

“You know, the Christmas tree here and you guys on the couch over there make me think of something Kathy said to me the other day,” Ben began.

This is where I began to wish my husband had a mute button.

He retold our conversation on the couch, repeating my words in a liquidy voice, dripping with lust: “We could also have sex under the Christmas tree.”

The room filled with hoots and whistles. Above the noise I tried to holler, “I so didn’t say it like that!!”

When the room finally quieted down I was able to shout, “You are so completely twisting the way I said that! I was just making a point that all it takes is a horizontal surface.”

That was only met with multiple objections – “Not technically!” – and a few more winks and understanding nods.

“No . . . you guys . . .” was all I could muster. “I’m just sayin’!”

But it was no use. Of course. There was no changing the thoughts happening in the room. Ben and I were now the sex-crazed couple of the bunch, and I was apparently the more adventurous of the two. Not a word more could be said about couches or Christmas trees without knowing nods in my direction.

“I don’t know why you had to tell them that,” I whined to my husband in frustration after the third reference to me and Christmas trees that night.

“Hey, if Ben hadn’t told us the story, you would have eventually written about it in your blog,” one friend argued.

“Why would I ever do that?” I shot back.

* * *

I tried really hard, but I couldn’t come up with a life lesson or anything for this story. I really want to be a good blogger with lots of good life lessons but it is difficult.

The only “lesson” I learned from this very annoying episode is that no matter what I like to think, I will never have any real amount of control over my husband. He is his own person. This incident was a vivid reminder that Ben and I can be totally united in so many ways, and yet his mind and his mouth are his own. I will never possess a mute button for him or anyone else I love.

And I guess it’s a good thing. It can be irritating, realizing we can’t control our loved ones, but it is also the reason we are able to have relationships: because we are two distinct people with our own thoughts, each bringing our own unique ideas to the table. Er . . . couch. If we really could control or predict what the other was going to say all the time there would be no room for a relationship. It keeps things . . . interesting.

I guess I could also point out that married life is far from boring, and that hanging out with other married couples can be way more scandalous than you’d think.

I’m not sure if that counts as a life lesson but that’s all I’m giving you. It’s the weekend and my brain is tired from all the “What’s the Point of Marriage?” stuff.

Just to inform you, though, we have not AND WILL NOT ever use either of the aforementioned pieces of furniture (if you can call a Christmas tree a piece of furniture) for the aforementioned purposes. Although my friends would love to convince you otherwise, you have no reason to ever feel weird or ickified if you find yourself seated in our brown leather couch in the Quiring gallery.

I PROMISE YOU THIS.

Stay tuned next week for the final installment of “What is the Point of Marriage? To Fulfill Basic Human Needs.”

For a comment, feel free to tell me story about your spouse saying something completely embarrassing in front of your friends. It will make me feel better.

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“Here, practice with this,” said Ben, crossing the kitchen with the blue crazy-straw in his hand. He had just retrieved it from the silverware drawer and was handing it to me.

“Um,” I said, but he didn’t notice. He put his pipe back into his mouth.

“I don’t want you to accidentally inhale any of the smoke because you don’t know how to do it. You don’t want to get any smoke in your lungs. Now do like me.”

I followed his lead, slipping the straight end of the crazy straw between my lips.

“So you’re creating a vacuum with your mouth, sucking in the smoke not with your breath but using your cheeks and tongue, like when you suck on a straw. Then you just let it out of your mouth without breathing.” He demonstrated a few puffs for me, releasing the smoke dramatically each time. “See? No breathing.”

He had already demonstrated how to pack a pipe, which he had only learned himself that afternoon from YouTube.

I don’t know when I became interested in learning how to smoke a pipe: one day I thought it was a vile form of recreation, and the next day I wanted to be like C. S. Lewis. I had always known C. S. Lewis smoked a pipe, and I had always wanted to be like him, but this was the first time I wanted to be like him by learning how to smoke a pipe. And Ben had reassured me that pipe smoke was never inhaled, so it didn’t sound so bad. I puffed away on the crazy straw while he puffed away on his pipe – the one he had bought in an outdoor market in Leeds for ₤2 when we were there last fall.

So there I sat, bare-foot and cross-legged atop our kitchen table, with my husband in front of me on a chair. I had a blue crazy-straw between my lips, grasped lightly between my forefinger and  middle finger the way I had seen adults hold cigarettes in my childhood. I scraped at the aquamarine nail polish on my toes with my fingernail absently. It was very late – the kitchen window that opened onto the back yard was a rectangle of black. Sweet, woody-smelling smoke curled like dancing ghosts between us as he showed me how to hold it in your mouth for a few seconds before blowing it out.

And I became conscious all of a sudden that I had never imagined a scene even remotely close to this when I had envisioned marriage before our wedding day. There was no place in my imagination for such bizarre and unexpected fancies. This was my marriage in real life: learning to smoke a pipe in the kitchen with my husband, on a loopy blue plastic straw. How could I have foreseen that married life could be so . . . peculiar?

Once he felt satisfied with my performance on the straw, I graduated to the real thing. I put the stem of the pipe between my teeth and sucked as I had practiced. I was delighted as my mouth filled with thick, musty warmth.

“Awesome,” I said, releasing a gray cloud from my mouth; but in speaking I felt some of the smoke slip down my throat. “Oh, crap!” I said, slapping my hand over my mouth.

“Don’t breathe in!” he warned.

It took me a while to get the hang of it: despite the formal practice I kept letting the smoke into my body. Each time, I clapped my mouth and yelled, “Oops – crap!”

We took turns with the pipe, showing off our newly-acquired skills, until I started to notice the awful dirty taste in my mouth. It had been OK at first but now it was starting to get gross.

“I’m done. My mouth tastes like old man,” I announced.

“Yeah, let’s go brush our teeth. It’s late,” he said.

“OK,” I said, slipping off the table onto my feet to follow him into the bathroom. “But first I want to see how I look smoking a pipe.”

“You look cute,” he said.

“Thanks,” I replied, sincerely touched.

How about you? Have you had any of those moments where you thought, “I can’t believe this is marriage?” or “I can’t believe this is my marriage?”

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I recently went through my journals from when I first started dating Ben.  I have kept a journal basically ever since I could write, and they provide a lot of entertainment.  But this time I was specifically looking for insights for this blog.

While reading through my journals, I also spent some time reflecting on what I was reading and writing down some of my thoughts.  I originally meant to build on all the different topics that I came up with, but I’m kind of lazy.  So for now, I’ve just made a list of random insights that I gained from re-reading that time in my life.

1. I fell in love with an illusion.  But that’s OK.  I still love the real Ben.

It’s really hilarious to go back and read all the stuff I wrote when I was falling in love with Ben because I was totally wrong about so many things about him.  For example: at the time, Ben struck me as an intellectual.  I thought he was a scholar-type who spent all his time reading books and learning new words, because he knew a few words I didn’t know and had read a few books I hadn’t read.  I was crazy about that.  It turns out Ben is actually more of a tradesman.  He had actually only really read the dozen or so books that he referenced within our first few dates.  In reality, he’s really good with his hands and he’s really practical.  He builds stuff.  He repairs stuff.  And I’m really crazy about all that.  He does read, and quite often, which is cool; but he can only read for about fifteen minutes and then he has to go work on his truck engine or install a light fixture.  And that’s awesome.  I love it because it’s so masculine.  Now I love the real Ben, although he is nothing like the imaginary Ben I first fell for.  Good thing the real Ben turned out to be so much cooler than the one I thought I had fallen in love with.

I’ve come to see, then, that it’s OK if your partner changes or your perceptions of him change so much that he becomes a different person from the one you first fell in love with.  Because the real one could turn out to be even better than the one you thought you wanted.

2. I expected our relationship to get boring a long time ago. But it still hasn’t happened.

It’s funny how after three months of dating I was surprised to find that I still found Ben exciting.  Our relationship was so old already, so familiar, I thought; and yet I got the jitters every time I heard him ring my doorbell or saw his car pull up to pick me up from school.  How was I not bored of him yet?  I thought this was miraculous.

This is hysterical to me now, after having been with him almost seven years and married to him for over four years, because I still find him so fun to be around.  I never tire of him.  We can go on a two-week vacation together, and see no one else but each other the whole time, and be perfectly content.  I don’t get sick of him.  He’s always fresh, new, and interesting to me.  After four years of marriage!  I can’t believe that way back then, after three months, I already thought we had been together a long time.  Three months was nothing.  And in a few decades I will probably be saying that four years of marriage was nothing – it was just the beginning. That’s pretty rad.

3. Before we were married, I was incessantly writing notes to Ben.  Long, long letters trying to explain my feelings.  I tried to clarify things that I had said in earlier conversation, and explain why I had said them, and explain why I was writing this note, etc.

It felt like I was explaining myself all the time.  Trying to explain who I was, and who I used to be, and who I wanted to be, and how I was a different person when I was apart from him, and on and on and on.  It was exhausting work, trying to get him to see who I really was.

It’s so great that I don’t have to waste all my time on that anymore.  He already knows me.  He lives with me.  He knows what I mean when I say stuff (most of the time); I don’t have to explain every little thing.  It’s so much better now.  Thank goodness for marriage.

4. Most of what I wrote as a lovesick teenager is totally lame. But here is one cool thought that I included in my journal:

“Falling in love is terrifying. The hugeness of it all; the sudden loss of control of your own emotions; the sudden vulnerability as you place your heart in the care of another.  Sometimes you become so afraid and overwhelmed that all you want to do is run . . . . And then you realize the only place you want to run is into that person’s arms.”

Awwwwww.  Wasn’t I just poetic?

5. I cannot even believe I was willing to go through all that for the guy. When I first started dating Ben he was struggling through a really severe bout of depression.  He was a real pain in the butt, to be honest.  He was über-dark and dramatic.  And he didn’t appreciate my attempts to help him.  He was always ignoring all my words of comfort, wanting to be alone all the time, talking about wanting to die.  He talked about his “destiny” to be alone – he felt he was called to be a lone, sad ranger sacrificing himself to God somehow.  By being a bum or something.  And he didn’t want my help.  He wanted to be miserable.  It was terrible.  And after six months of being with him, I was unhappier than I ever had been in my life.  And yet I was constantly declaring things like the following: “I have already decided to love you forever.  Do what you will, but you cannot change that.  You can either try to fight my love, or you can make it easier on both of us by letting me love you.” This was an actual quote from one of my notes to him.  I know: pretty intense, right?

I don’t know what made Ben so worthwhile to me at the time.  Honestly, I can’t put my finger on any particular quality or characteristic that made him worth the suffering.  He was mopey, insecure, antisocial, indecisive, self-absorbed, and rather pathetic, as depressed people generally are.  But oh – how I loved him!  I wanted to be with him always.  It’s quite inexplicable to me.

I’m glad I did it, though, because Ben turned out to be a pretty fantastic person when he got through his depression.  Luckily, he has gotten so much better since then.  And I’ve realized that I have to give him some slack: he was a teenager.  Teenagers are idiots.  They are all melodramatic like that . . . or at least I was.  So he’s allowed to have been a royal pain – that’s what teenagers do.  I just don’t know why I put up with it.  But I’m glad I did.

 

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A Good Morning

I wrote this Sunday morning but didn’t get around to typing and posting it until today.

I just had the best wake-up ever.

Normally, this is how my mornings go: I begin to surface into consciousness about half an hour after the alarm radio has started playing.  As I continue to flounder into some semblance of wakefulness I become aware that Ben has already vacated the bed.  I can usually hear him preparing breakfast for himself downstairs.  Frig, I think.  I am such a lazy wife.  Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I feel these thoughts: at this point, words are still too concrete for my damp, sleep-logged mind.   I only feel.

As my brain starts to drain of its drowsiness, my thoughts begin to drift towards the weird dreams I’ve just had – about being lifted in a car by a tornado or getting a Western-style shirt in the mail.  Then I start to remember that I am awake, and that this is a new day, and I have to get up.  I curl up under the covers into fetal position and groan.   I think about how my life is a grand garbage dump.  I wonder pessimistically how ugly I look this morning –worse than yesterday?  I whimper pathetically as I think about the work that has to be done for my research job.  I roll over and bury my face deeper into the blanket as I realize I will never make anything of myself, because I am lazy and lack talent, inspiration, and originality.  I grudgingly start to roll towards the edge of the bed in preparation to get up and out.  I rest my heavy body for a few minutes.  I roll a little closer to the edge of the bed.  I rest a few more minutes.  Sometimes I fall asleep at this point and then have to repeat the whole thing over again, dreams and all.  Sometimes Ben calls me from downstairs because he has a question about his lunch.  Eventually, with a mighty groan, I then heave myself out of bed, miserable to the core; I bulldoze the heavy comforter off my body with my arms, and weakly begin to walk through the chilly, raw air of my bedroom to the stairway.  There, I say resentfully to the Universe.  I’m up.

But this morning was different.  My eyes were open before I realized I was awake, and I found I was in the middle of enjoying a jubilant piece of music.  My heart pulsed cheerfully in time with the rhythm of the song.  It was Simon and Garfunkel’s Cecilia, but not by Simon and Garfunkel.  It was better.  Everything had been perfected in this joyful rendition.  The instruments were all fine-tuned and the voices sang in blissfully perfect harmony.  My mind skipped along with the melody and I smiled.  My face was already towards Ben, and I found myself examining his peaceful, handsome face.  So still and sweet.  I slipped my hand under the covers toward his arm and just grazed it with my fingers.  His eyes opened, and I gave him an enthusiastic thumbs-up above the comforter.  He must have understood that I was referring to the song because he gave me a knowing smile before closing his eyes again.  I sighed happily.

♪♫Cecelia, you’re breaking my heart; you’re shaking my confidence daily . . . ♪♫

I was so completely happy.  It was the Sabbath.  I was lying in a warm bed with my beloved, who smiled at me.  One of the greatest songs ever written had just been made perfect and was dancing in the air around us.  Without opening his eyes, Ben wrapped a warm arm around me and pulled me toward his glowing body.  I smiled and kissed both his warm fragrant cheeks profusely, like moms do with their babies.  He breathed out a laugh and looked up at me.  I contentedly laid my head down on his pillow next to him, and stared into his open gray eyes, and just loved life.

There is nothing like waking up next to the man (or presumably the woman) you love.  I am so grateful that when I blink open my eyes at the crack of dawn, I look directly into the eyes of my beloved.  I breathe in deeply and think that this must be the way God meant for life to be.

When I fall asleep, he’s there with me, and when I wake up, he’s still there.  It feels sometimes as though eternity slips in between those unconscious hours and engulfs us, so that we are somehow together for an eternity every single night.

In these moments I forget that I have done almost nothing with my life, and that things don’t look too much better for my future.  I forget that I have bad skin and that I am a slow worker and that my life feels directionless.  In these moments, I realize that life is not about accomplishments but about relationships, and that I’ve been blessed with one of the best ones imaginable.

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Underwear.

Before we were married, I was completely uncomfortable with the subject of Ben’s underwear.  I’m not sure why.  I just didn’t feel right thinking about my boyfriend’s undergarments, under any circumstances.  Unfortunately, though, Ben had a strange and decidedly indecorous fascination with the subject.  He loved to talk about his underwear.  He always had a way of bringing his boxer briefs into the conversation, no matter who was in his audience.  And one time, when he got a new package of said unmentionables, he thought it would be hysterical to cut out the picture of the male model featured on the front of the package and sneak the image into his friend’s car at church.  He propped it up against the dash and then snuck out.  Later, when the friend found the cutout in his car, Ben literally rolled on the grass laughing.  Boys.  I was obviously not very impressed.

All that slowly changed after we got married.  Today, Ben’s underdrawers are just a part of my everyday life.  Kind of a funny part, in fact.

Despite the fact that he vows he wears only one pair a day, there seems to always be an unreasonable amount of Ben’s underwear in the wash.  I always feel like I’m hanging up those grey and black articles for an unseemly amount of time.  I can’t figure it out.  I swear there is more of his than mine in the wash every week.  What’s going on?  Is he changing in his sleep?  Is he suffering from some kind of chronic underwear-related amnesia?  Are little laundry elves breaking into our house and throwing handfuls of clean undergarments into the wash?  Are underpants capable of spontaneous multiplication, Jesus+bread+fish style?  It seems almost supernatural.  I complain about his underwear problem regularly, but he always defends himself by declaring that he only changes once a day – it can’t be his own fault.  Yet one evening, when we were side-by-side in the laundry closet, hanging things up on the hooks and wires he’d set up for that purpose, he said to me in all earnestness, “Sometimes I worry that the amount of underwear I have to hang up is something to be concerned about.”

I took down of that fabulous quotation for posterity.  Never would I have imagined that Ben would  become concerned about the amount of underwear in his possession.

Another nice underwear moment occurred last winter: I went upstairs into our bedroom to bring up a basket full of clean laundry, and I found Ben standing frozen in the middle of the room, glancing up at me with wide and frantic eyes.  He was in his big winter coat, his tuque, his gloves, his heavy wool socks . . . and no pants.  His skinny legs were bare and pink while the rest of his body was heavily clad for the snow storm outside.  I was just about to blurt something out when he stopped me.

What are you doing here?  You’re not supposed to be here!” he exclaimed frantically.

“I’m . . . um . . . what are you doing?” I asked, struggling to keep my laughter in check.

He quickly explained that he had been all set to go outside to shovel the snow when he realized that he was wearing his uncomfortable underpants. He had one time accidentally bought a whole pack that was sized specifically “for short men.”  At 6 foot 2, Ben does not exactly qualify.  Now, all dressed up in his winter gear, he had suddenly realized he was wearing these ill-fitting underwear, and about to go out and do all that manual labour.  It didn’t seem like a good idea.  He had decided to go upstairs to change them before he headed out. But he didn’t want to change out of all his winter stuff first.  So he had snuck up to the bedroom quietly in the hopes that I wouldn’t find him there like that.  But alas: fate had not been on his side.  I caught him in his tighty-whities. [OK, to be honest, Ben doesn’t actually own a single pair of white underwear, but “tighty-blackies” just doesn’t have the same ring to it].

I couldn’t help it. He looked so ridiculous.  I howled with laughter.  I was just dropping the basket in preparation to give him a nice butt-smack to humiliate him further when he put out his arms to usher me out of the room.  “Come onget outta here!” he bellowed.  Ahh, how the tables have turned, I thought with satisfaction as I scampered out to let him have his privacy.  Mr. I-Love-My-Underwear was suddenly not so anxious to discuss his underclothes.

These are the fabulous kinds of things that come from living with and loving someone of the opposite sex.   I am honoured to share these things with my Benjamin.

P.S. – I am also grateful to Ben for allowing me to post these stories.  When I asked him if it was OK, he just shrugged and said, “It’s not like I have a reputation to protect.”

(Do you have any awesome underwear stories with your spouse?  Come on, there have got to be more!)

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The Sweater Vest

I got Ben a new sweater vest the other day.  He probably won’t wear it.  He’s not really into wearing clothing that makes him look attractive.   But I thought the vest was cool and it was on sale for only four dollars, so I got it anyway.  I mentioned it to him that evening when we were eating supper together.

“Sure!” he said. “Great!  Now I have a sweater vest that I can hang up in my closet next to the other sweater vest I never wear,” and he added a little more sauce to his noodles.  “Can you pass me the juice?”

“But this sweater vest is cool,” I objected.  “You don’t have to wear the other one because it is ancient and ugly.  You’ve had that one since the beginning of time.  Try this new one.  I think it’ll look really hot on you.”  At the last sentence I raised my one eyebrow at him suggestively.  He poured himself some more berry punch and dug into his fettuccine.

Later that evening when I was in our bedroom I pulled the new vest out of the plastic shopping bag that it came in and laid it out on his side of the bed so he would at least look at it.  It was solid navy with an argyle print woven into the front.   Totally sexy-nerd, I thought.  I went to the closet in the adjoining room where we keep our dress clothes and groped around for his old vest at the very furthest end of the closet. I pulled it out – ugh.  It really was ugly.  All stretched out and faded and not trendy at all.  I think he wore it to his grade eight graduation.  I decided to lay it out next to the new one on the bed to highlight the contrast.

When he came up to bed that evening Ben noticed the two vests lying there.

“Hmmm . . . so this is the new one?” he asked, inspecting the clean, shimmeringly new vest.

“Yes.  See how much nicer it is?  The old one has huge arm holes and it’s too wide and stretched out.  No wonder you never wore it.  It’s ugly.  You never had to wear it again,” I said.

His eyes lit up. “I can get rid of it?” he asked.

“Sure.  Totally.”

A roguish look crossed his face.  I could see him thinking for a moment.  It made me nervous.  He never speaks when he gets an idea, he just acts.  Then, without notice, he whipped open his underwear drawer and pulled out the broad machete he has stowed away there. (He’s weird like that.  It was an item he had gotten at some shady market across the river in Detroit.  He has a cheap pellet gun mixed in somewhere with his pants too).  Before I knew what was happening he had seized the old sweater vest and was stabbing it unceremoniously with his blade.

“Oh my gosh!  What are you doing?” I cried out with horror.

“You said I could do whatever I want with it!  I’m testing out my new knife!” he yelled.  And with that he began sawing back and forth against the seam of the v-neck. “Dang it!  It’s too dull!”

“Stop! Stop!  I never said that!  We can give it away!” I said.  I made a lunge for it, but he turned away from me and continued sawing.

“I’m making oil rags for my shed!” he protested, stabbing again with intense concentration.

“It’s still a perfectly good vest!” I hollered.

“You said yourself it was garbage!”

“I said it was ugly!”

We were both shouting, and I was frantically throwing my hands in the air and chasing after him as he continued to twirl away from me and disfigure the front of the garment.  He was still hacking away at the vest. At last he managed to tear through it with his knife.

“Dang it, Ben!” I yelled.

“Come on!  Oil rags!” he yelled back.

Exasperated, I let out a loud sigh and yanked the new vest off the bed.  “You better at least wear this new vest!” I shouted, heading for the closet to hang it up.

That seems to be the fate of all old clothes in this household: merciless butchery, by sword or by Ben’s hand.  It’s like the Roman Empire for clothing.

postscript: Ben informs me that the blade in his underwear drawer is not in fact a machete but is rather a mere “hunting knife.”  Which is apparently way less wierd?  Tomaytoes, tomahtoes . . . .

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I have already mentioned the mayhem that often is our dinnertime.  Many of our weirdest moments happen over our evening meal.  Allow me to paint you another picture.

On more than one occasion Ben has ripped off his shirt at the dinner table.  In each of these instances, it wasn’t out of rage or anything, it was just that . . . he felt like it.  The first time, we were at the table having just finished supper.  We were chatting, poking around at the remaining leftovers in the casserole dish, probably discussing what we were going to do that evening, and he lazily stretched his arms up and rested his head back on his hands with his elbows up in the air.  In this position, he noticed a hole in the right armpit of his faded red t-shirt.  It was an old shirt, and it looked pretty ragged.  He examined it intently for a couple of seconds.  I paused what I was saying and looked at him.  Then, without warning, he reached over to the hole with his left had and pulled – and tore the whole shirt right off his body like a wrestler.  I was stunned.  Did my husband just tear off his shirt like Hulk Hogan right in front of me at the dinner table? There was my gaunt, rosy-skinned husband sitting across from me in his dining chair, bare-chested, with a torn red shirt in his victorious upraised hand yelling, “Heck, yeah!”

There was a moment of silence.

“What the frig?” I finally shouted, wide-eyed.  He just looked at me with one of those brazen, dignified, “You can’t mess with this, baby” looks.

“I cannot believe you just did that.”  He shrugged his bare white shoulders breezily.  Yes, he really did just do that.

Unfortunately, after that display of his vigorous masculinity, Ben acquired a taste for rending his garments.  A couple of times I’ve seen it coming – a gleam comes into his eye that says, “I am so going Old Testament on this superannuated raiment.”  And it usually happens after a particularly satisfying dinner.  Perhaps these are the times he most feels like a man – after devouring a hot dinner prepared by his little stay-at-home wife?  I have no idea.  The inner workings of the male mind are sometimes impenetrable to me.

Does life get any . . . um . . . weirder than that?

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