STEVE OUELLETTE, You Had to Ask
---- — I will readily admit that my marriage contract has been noticeably slanted since the very beginning.
My wife is smarter than I am. She's more attractive, more compassionate and has more fashion sense.
My wife works harder, she earns more money, and she has much, much better hair. She teaches our kids important things, like math and how to eat with a spoon; I teach them how to make rude sounds with their armpits.
My wife handily beats me in Scrabble, sometimes even when I cheat. She's nicer than I am to old people and kittens, and when something breaks, she's the one in the family who knows how to fix it.
In short, she's superior to me in most every way — which in the long run works great for me, even if it is a little emasculating.
Still, whenever I started to feel completely useless and inferior in the past, I would find solace in my physical superiority. I was bigger, stronger, faster. She needed me to open those tough jars, to move that heavy furniture around the room, to chase down the dog when it escaped.
Now, however, my wife has decided to add physical fitness to her life. In an effort she chronicles on her own blog (www.failureatfitness.com — great, now she's writing better than I am, too) she has started to exercise on a more serious basis. She's taking walks, going to the gym, lifting weights, Zumba-ing. She's talked about running a race — a previously unthinkable task. Soon she'll be climbing a mountain and swimming the English Channel.
Before you know it, opening a jar will no longer be a problem, and I'll have lost my last vestige of usefulness. She'll probably find some kind of stretching regimen that will allow her to reach things on the top shelf, too. Crud.
I suppose I could get in shape, too. Get off the couch and exercise. Get back to the condition I was in during my athletic prime (age 12). Instead of sitting behind my desk all day, I could take little exercise breaks every hour. I could do some running and bike riding. Borrow my mom's old "Sweating to the Oldies" videotape.
I could pump some weights. Hire a personal trainer. I could punch a side of beef and run on the beach with Apollo Creed. I could join a spinning class. In no time … Man, that sounds like a lot of work.
Instead, I'm planning on pretending to get in shape.
I will go out for "long runs" in the morning, which will end at a certain booth at the Dunkin Donuts, around the corner. Before I return, I'll dowse myself in used sweat (squeezed out of towels and dirty T-shirts from a high-school football team's locker room).
I will make a spectacle of going to "the gym" twice a day, but will actually spend that time shopping for things to add to my Hummel collection.
When walking about the house, I will constantly dangle a celery stick from my mouth (but the inner half will be coated in Pringles and Cheese Whiz). I will do curls with 100-pound (Styrofoam) weights and insert prosthetic biceps under my sleeves.
Still, none of my faux fitness will make any difference if my wife continues on her current trajectory. First I'll have to sabotage the blog. Using a series of assumed names, I've begun leaving hurtful and angry comments to discourage her. When she's asleep tomorrow, I'm planning to post something — under her name ("Honey, you must have been hacked!") — so spiteful that the Justice Department will deem the site a hate crime and shut it down.
I will sneak tempting chocolates into all of my wife's meals, and when she goes to the gym, I will hire a couple of college interns to do nothing but point at her and giggle, in hopes of shattering her self-confidence.
I realize that none of this will earn me a Husband of the Year Award, but it's the only way I can think of to realistically keep the balance in my marriage. Is that so wrong?
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