Forget Grey’s Anatomy. No more Desperate Housewives. We’ve even abandoned PBS.
In fact, apart from the occasional baseball, basketball, football or other game involving men and sweat, the television in our household displays none of the variety implied when we switched to whatever that cable thing is which gives something like 687 television channels. No, for all the variety available, we might as well go back to the days of the dinosaurs, also known as the big three networks.
For in the Bontempo household, only three television shows reign supreme: Man vs. Wild, The Deadliest Catch, and Dirty Jobs (none of which, ironically enough, is found on any of the “big three networks”).
As you might imagine, the person watching, or rather, mesmerized by these fascinating tales of men triumphing over messy, yucky stuff is not me. No, the individual glued to the escapades of these rough and tumble fellas (only when he can’t find the zillionth rerun of any of The Godfather movies, of course) is my husband, Dave.
In a way, I get it. The lives of our former hunter/gatherers are drastically different from the days of yesteryear, when our guys spent most of their time matching wits with Mother Nature in a daily game of survival. Way back when, the men really did find themselves locked in a cage match with nature, forced to fight their way through face to face meetings with creatures possessing really big teeth that were just as intent on finding food for the young ‘uns as were the guys. And in those situations, it really may have been important to know how to avoid detection by lions or how to navigate one’s way out of the perfect storm.
Now, not so much. My husband really doesn’t need to know how to determine if the dead zebra he’s just come across is fit to eat, nor does he need a lesson in how to skin the poor creature and consume it. And considering the fact that he’s rarely been dropped in the middle of the Amazon or the plains of the Serengeti and forced to find his way out, it’s also not essential for him to be able to build himself a bed of mud and sticks between two trees over a river, so he can get some sleep before continuing on his he-man journey back to safety and civilization.
Now, he pretty much just needs to remember how to find his car keys and the box of Tastykakes he keeps hidden in the garage for breakfast. As far as journeys go, the trip from home to office to coaching job (with a stop at the soft pretzel store for rations), isn’t all that arduous.
But I can see how his genetic makeup is screaming for more action. It doesn’t seem fair that men who are only looking to behave as men are wired to do should be denied the pleasures of some heart stopping guy fun.
To that end, each of the shows mentioned provide websites which, while probably not completely satisfying the male urge to get lost in the wilderness and hunt for something, can bring a guy close with interactive games. Depending on their choice of adventure, a guy can forge his way through the jungle, captain a crabbing ship on the high seas, or test his knowledge of any number of dirty, filthy jobs, all from the comfort of his favorite blue chair.
This summer, Dave won’t be navigating anything more threatening than the hot sand of a beach, except through television and cyber-space, and that’s fine with me.
I never liked zebra meat anyway.
This is a public apology to my husband.
Just when I thought I was approaching perfect, too.
They’ve really gone and done it this time.
The phone was ringing, as usual, at an inopportune time.
“Give me a minute and I’ll see if I can fix it,” I called down to the basement. Then, “Your dance shoes are in the laundry room,” I barked up the stairs to the second floor. “What are you talking about?” I asked my husband, as I finally turned my attention to the phone.
Three women and a female dog. You gotta feel for the guy.
I thought it was because they missed me.
Eventually, I did come home, and they tried, really they did, but all I could repeat to myself over and over was, “What do they do when I’m not here?”
“I just want to let you know, the kitchen faucet is broken.”
“What do mean? What happened?” I asked.
“I don’t know. We were just trying to turn on the water and all of a sudden it was spraying all over the kitchen. David’s going to fix it.”
Sure enough, I walked into the kitchen to find a paper towel roll stuck over the faucet handle warning everyone not to use it. Ah, the decorator touch.
Anyway, when I finally returned home for good, the kitchen faucet was “fixed.” In other words, it dispensed water. But for some reason, the hot water side was the cold water side and vice versa. (Sigh.) Fortunately, the washing machine worked; I threw in the sheets and towels and set it to “boil.” But later, when I turned on the faucet in the upstairs bathroom, I was greeted with a clanging and thumping which shook the very walls of the house.
“Oh yeah, I forgot. There’s something wrong with that one, too,” Dave said.
And let me just say that whoever coined the phrase, “Man cannot live by bread alone,” never met my two men, who, apparently, live only on bread, if the kitchen cabinets and freezer are any indication. Bags and bags of bread and rolls. I stopped counting at seven.
Like I said, “What do they do when I’m not home?”
On second thought, never mind. I really don’t want to know.
We were out of dog food and the only size the store had was the twenty pound bag.
“Come on, out with it; what else did you buy?” I asked.
“I can’t believe this!”
Dave was silent.
Spring cleaning at my house bears little resemblance to the same enterprise conducted by my mother when we were kids.
Once a man has used a power washer, he can never return to a simple hose and bucket. My husband introduced his father and brothers to the wonders of power washing, and all five regularly trade stories of their conquests over mildew, dirt and grime. And if, for some reason, the device refuses to work, as was the case this spring when my father-in-law prepared to zap his garage doors, their anxiety is almost palpable.
I watched bemused as my husband and his father stood in the driveway bending over the machine as if ministering to a sick child. They pressed various buttons, plugged in and unplugged the connections and spent endless minutes musing about the possible problems. When it became clear that the contraption was not going to work despite their best efforts, the pained expressions on their faces mirrored those of any child told his favorite toy had just been demolished.
Their disappointment was short-lived, however, when they realized they could now buy a new power washer, one with even more horsepower.
Nothing like a little spring cleaning to make a man smile.
It all happened so gradually that neither of us noticed until the transformation was complete. After twenty-seven years together, fully believing that I was married to a “Dave,” my husband and I have discovered that he is, in fact, a “George.”
The first clue came when our new neighbors moved in next door. A lovely young family with three children, they reminded us of ourselves when we moved into our home sixteen years ago. Throughout the last year, while doing various yard work, my husband began to find all manner of balls strewn over the lawn. Despite the fact that we still store every ball they ever played with in our garage, our children haven’t tossed a ball in the yard in years.
So, each week, Dave would dutifully mow or rake around the balls, stopping every so often to throw them back over the fence.
“Franny, I’m beginning to think those kids next door are pitching balls over here on purpose, just to see if I’ll throw them back. When did I turn into Mr. Wilson?”
“I don’t know, George, but you missed a tennis ball in the corner,” I smirked.
Next up were the inevitable calls from my mother, or anyone house-sitting for my mother while she was away. Usually the burglar alarm went off, requiring my husband to drop whatever he was doing and race to the house, trying to explain to the police that even though he didn’t know the password, he wasn’t a burglar. Most recently, while Mom was away, my sister called with a plumbing disaster that sent my beleaguered spouse to Home Depot at 9:30 PM armed with a piece of PVC pipe that had to be replicated and then installed, keeping him out until after midnight.
“I think I’ve become your mother’s personal handyman, just like George Utley, the fix-it guy on the old Bob Newhart show,” he said, resignedly.
“Just don’t start wearing plaid shirts and overalls, George,” I pleaded.
“Very funny,” he said.
And finally, there is George Jetson. Blessed with a plethora of gadgets at his fingertips, hapless George ran into one problem after another as the technology that was supposed to make his life easier seemed to conspire against him, causing all manner of difficulties and delays as he tried to navigate his way through life.
A recent call to the office confirmed that George Jetson had indeed come to life in the person of my electronically unlucky husband.
“Hi, honey, how is your day going?” I asked.
“Well, the email is down, the back-up for the main computer crashed last night and my palm pilot just deleted my entire address book,” he sputtered.
“George, dear, I think you should come home early and have some lemonade on the porch. I promise I’ll keep Dennis away, and repairs on the inn can wait until later. I’ll make sure Rosie has your drink waiting when you park the hover-craft.”
For my man, George, it’s the least I can do.