The other night, my husband and I were preparing for bedtime. Like I’m sure most of you do, we have a routine. Nothing rigid or cult-like, but basic things that need to get done before you put yourself in one spot, bent on losing consciousness for a whole bunch of hours. The dogs have to go out one last time. The dishes have to be cleaned. The cats have to be locked in the basement to keep their demon-spawn screaming from waking us at ungodly hours of the night…you know, the usual.
I had moved off the couch first and was in the process of corralling the canines (because they won’t go out willingly — is it normal for dogs to be afraid of the dark?) I left the husband to turn off the television. For some reason, I went back to the family room and quite nearly choked on my chamomile tea.
We have a TV cabinet, with doors, to hide the TV. Because it’s ugly. TVs are ugly. And if it weren’t for football, I’d do away with the thing altogether. But even looking at the TV would have been better than seeing what my husband had done. He had closed one door of the cabinet. Just one. The open side stared at me like a gaping wound. Or a hole into an abyss of evil and misery.
Who could do such a thing? Worse yet, who could do such a thing and not even be aware of the horrific nature of their crime? And even more awful, just not care?
The answer is one that is both painfully simple and also Freudian-ly complex. I married my exact opposite. He is the yin to my yang, the conditioner to my shampoo, the butter to my bread, the straight jacket to my crazy. And if I had even bothered to ask him why he would close just ONE door when there are clearly two doors, he wouldn’t even remember that the TV cabinet has doors.
The story goes that we marry our fathers. Some say that’s because these men set forth a strong example and we, therefore, seek out the same qualities in our prospective mates. Some say it’s because it’s all we know, the only example of a partner of which we have personal knowledge. I’m not a psychologist (and if you are, I don’t need you to clarify any of this for me. No one comes to read my ranting hoping for good, solid advice. I’m an internet mom-wife. They all know I’m just vomiting out the crazy from my life and that it just happens to look a lot like their crazy-vomit) but there is no doubt that I married my dad, probably for a combo package of the above two reasons. Either way, the first time I realized it, it was a wee bit creepy. I mean, it’s all cute when you’re three and firmly believe you’re going to marry your father. It’s another thing altogether when you’re a grown-a$$ woman and realize that you actually have.
On first glance, no one would think my husband and father are even remotely alike. You’d have to live behind the scenes to see it. And since my life isn’t a VH-1 special, you’ll just have to trust me on this one. In fact, it’s more likely you would think that I am the one who is like my father, which is not entirely untrue. For example, my father and I really enjoy a thorough set of directions, replete with landmarks and street names — as well as their numerical identifications — and have been known to spend an uncomfortable amount of time discussing traffic patterns, optimal travel times, detour options, and our personal opinions about how highways should be improved (the HOV should definitely have a higher speed limit). There are many other similarities, but I suppose that’s to be expected since he’s my father and all.
But line up my husband and father’s likes and dislikes, side by side, and you’d be hard-pressed to see any resemblance. And yet, deep down, the similarities are startling. They both have an obsessive love of their sport of choice. I have no doubt that my father will be swinging a bat well into his 90s. And I’m fairly certain my husband will die with a fishing rod in his hand. If not, I’ve been instructed to put one there, prop him up on a boat, push him out into the open sea then shoot him with flaming arrows. Because apparently, he was a Viking in a former life (and has way too much confidence in my mastery of archery).
Both men are the hardest working people I have ever met. They relentlessly trudge forward, never shying away from a difficult task, even ones that seem insurmountable (except for diapers — neither one was too proud to shy away from dirty diapers). Each one would not think twice before helping out their fellow man, clocking countless hours volunteering and mentoring. They have a love and devotion to their families that is unmatched and shows in all that they do. They passed this loyalty on to their kids and have laid the groundwork for one hell of a family tree. Also, neither one of them can find a half-gallon of milk in the refrigerator. Nobody’s perfect.
As it turns out, I’m pretty freaking proud to have found someone who not only shares traits with my dad but who has also earned my father’s respect and admiration. Sometimes, he’s even the favorite son-in-law (at least that’s what he likes to tell himself).
Even though he leaves TV cabinet doors askew, (and doesn’t even bother trying to close kitchen cabinets. One day a teenager will run face first into one of them. I’m just waiting) can’t fold a pair of pants, and refuses to accept the myriad variety of towels and how they should properly be utilized, I still adore the lunatic. Because he also rubs my feet after a long day, listens to my daily rants — without judgment and with an open mind — and knows that more than jewelry or flowers, the way to make my heart go pitter-patter is to wrap up the hose when he’s done with it. In a neat, symmetrical circle. None of that haphazard, loosey-goosey pile o’ hose stuff. I mean, if you’re not going to do it right, why even bother?
I want to be prepared for the day one of my kids breaks a nose when they smash into an open cabinet. Healthline.com will walk me through the first-aid of it, but they forgot to include “frontal lobe not yet fully developed” or “poor housekeeping by father” under the risk factors for a broken nose. Maybe I’ll have to write my own.