Saturday, February 18, 2006

Beloved Wives Day ( 30)

“Beloved Wives Day” (30)

A group of Japanese men hoping to encourage the nation’s legions of workaholic husbands to head home early and show their wives some appreciation have proclaimed Tuesday “Beloved Wives Day”.

“This is from Reuters, their Oddly Enough news, just in case they’re listening in and want credit”, I said to Phyllis, who sat patiently while I read to her from an article a friend had sent me.

“I don’t think Reuters is here in your computer room. Oh, no, you’re going to write about this, aren’t you?” Phyllis said.

I ignored this outburst and kept reading: The group, which calls itself the “Japan Doting Husbands Association” urged men to get home by 8 p. m. and say thanks to their wives for all they do. Many men can’t put their feelings of gratitude toward their wives into words. Work is number one for them.

“That doesn’t sound like you.”

“You mean you think I’m good at expressing myself?”

“Oh, no. You can talk all right-- you’ll say anything to anybody. I mean you’re not exactly a workaholic.”

“That’s good, isn’t it? I come home to my wife and puppy dog.”

I read another bit of the article. “Here’s another section I’m good at. It talks about the five “golden rules” including going home early, calling wives by their given name and looking them in the eyes when talking.”

“Oh, that’s rich. You never look me in the eyes—you’re always staring into your computer screen, or watching TV, or reading something. You are actually married to your computer. When I want to get your attention, I practically have to e-mail you.”

“Say, that’s an idea. Why don’t we set up your own personal e-mail account—you could send me a message—I always check my mail.”

“No, thanks. I’ll just call from work to make sure you haven’t set the kitchen on fire.”

I ignored this—I’ve never actually set the kitchen on fire. I did once try to pop some microwave popcorn and mistakenly set the dial on “beverage” rather than “popcorn”. I’ll have to admit that there was a lot of black smoke and the house smelled like it had been on fire. It’s also true that particular bag of Orville Redenbacher had a hole in it, as though it had been shot, but no real damage was done.

“Here’s something else: The group—the Doting Husbands –has its own homepage, which includes a column where husbands can write down their feelings they are to shy to say out loud.”

“You mean to tell me these guys have to get on the Internet to talk with their wives? What kind of a wimp does that? Sounds to me like they need a dose of Dr. Phil.”

“I thought women liked the sensitive type—you know, like that English guy, Hugh Grant, in Six Weddings and Three Funerals, or whatever it was called”.

“Hugh Grant? Who’s he?”

“Oh, that’s right-he doesn’t do those slasher pictures you like. Maybe they’ll show one of his movies on Lifetime so you can catch it.”

“Anyway, the article goes on to say the Japanese marriages are under great pressure. In 2004, more than one in three marriages ended in divorce.”

“Sounds like some of those Japanese girls are getting smart”.

“You mean you wouldn’t put up with a husband who was married to his work and who wrote comments at a web site, because he couldn’t get home on time?”

“I would be setting him out on a street corner.”

“Kind of harsh, isn’t it? Isn’t that what you say about women whose husbands don’t work?”

“No, I say women who support husbands who won’t work should throw them out. If it were me, I’d set them out with the garbage.”

I try one more time. “Here’s a guy with a broken heart—listen to this: I’m sorry I had a car accident. I’m sorry I’m away so much on business trips. I’m sorry I end up sleeping at the office so often.”

“He sounds like a “sorry” excuse for a husband, I’d say.”

“Maybe we should start “Beloved Wives” night right here. On your nights off, I could make sure I get home early, make it a point to call you by your given name (Sweetheart), and say thanks for all the things you do”.

“No, don’t do that—I’ll think I’m in the wrong house. “

“Why don’t we start tonight? Hey, how about I fix us some microwave popcorn?”

“How about you staying out of my kitchen, Buster?”

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Movie Night (29)

My wife, Phyllis, works evenings as a nurse. When she has a night off she likes to watch movies in the comfort of our bedroom; she prefers Lifetime movies and scary movies.

I like to say if you’ve seen one Lifetime movie, you’ve seen them all. They even have similar titles like, When a Tall, Good-looking, Rich, Stranger Calls, What Shall I Wear?; The Stranger in My Bedroom Who Looks Exactly Like My Brother’s Picture on the Milk Carton; and my all time favorite: Stranger in the Guest House Who Walks Around Without a Shirt Most of the Movie (he turns out to be the pool guy).

I can at least rest my eyes (snooze) during these movies, but if Phyllis settles on a horror film, I know I’m in for it, as scary stuff makes me nervous. I know I’ll be hiding under the covers for half the movie; the other half I’ll heading out to the kitchen to take on truckloads of extremely nourishing snacks. I eat a lot when I’m nervous.

I’ll start with the closest thing in the cabinet, while keeping one eye on the TV; it may take me a few seconds to realize I’m eating raisin bran from the box. Then I may mow down a bag of chips and a quart of ice cream. Next it’s time for more salt, so a few pretzels are in order. I’ll stall until the mayhem slows down, or maybe even, a commercial blessedly shows up.

I time my kitchen breaks to coincide with the moment the axe murderer or serial killer is about to do somebody in. If my timing’s off, I’m still in the bedroom, I dive under the covers, but not always quickly enough as I sometime catch a glimpse of the latest victim with flying body parts, which are later stuffed into a Hefty bag.

There are three of us watching the movie as our puppy dog, Precious, always joins us, or to be more accurate we join her as she lets us sleep on her bed. Precious doesn’t care what we watch as long as the volume is down so she can get her much needed puppy rest.
Sometimes I enlist her assistance as a ruse to leave the movie when I know a crucial moment is coming up (the slasher is getting ready to strike, you can tell by the creepy music).

Usually, I’ll say to Precious: “Do you need to go out? Don’t you need to potty? Daddy will take you out right now”. Precious will yawn and stretch and indicate that she wants to continue napping, but will go out if I think it’s absolutely necessary, i.e., I sense another round of flying body parts.

Phyllis recognizes this move as the dodge it is, but contents herself with asking, “Don’t you think you ought to tie yourself up before going outside?” (My robe belt is trailing along beside me after my latest dash to the kitchen.)

Going out often turns out to be a bad idea, as Precious will think it’s a fine time to tour the neighborhood rather than keeping her mind on Puppy Business. She is sometimes distracted by giant worms, night crawlers, which are creepy in themselves. She would love to bite into one and take it home to Mom, but I discourage her. Since I’m in my bathrobe I’m not exactly dressed to go touring.

And I soon begin hearing footsteps though I see nobody; the neighborhood is very dark; there are way too many shadows, the hair on the back of my neck stands up, which means the Serial Killer is behind us. At this moment I pick Precious up and run back to the house.

I’m out of breath when I return to the bedroom. Phyllis says, “Did you see a ghost or something? Maybe we should have watched Lifetime.”

“We could catch the last half of Switched at Birth”, I say, “or How I Married My Twin Brother. I bet nobody is hacked to death in that one”.

“Maybe next time—I want to finish this one”.

“Why don’t I just take a shower and meet you back here for the news?”

I like to take long showers. By the time I get out, Phyllis has finished her scary movie and started a Lifetime masterpiece, The Suzie Wilkinson Story: Based on The Absolutely True Story of How I Ran for My Life from my Handsome But Brutal Ex-husband/Boyfriend Who Was a Box of Rocks, But Looked Dreamy Without a Shirt.

“Oh, this looks good”, I’ll say. As I head to the kitchen.