It was my husband's birthday the other day. Day before yesterday, in fact; one day after my return from the Road Trip That Shall No Longer Speak Its Name. It was a nice birthday - we went down to the lake and had a picnic and WonderBaby sort of sang Happy Birthday - but I didn't write about it. I didn't post a picture, or even leave a little Happy Birthday message here.
I don't say much about my husband here, on the blog. He appears, now and again, a peripheral character in the stories that I tell. Sometimes, rarely, he comes to centre stage, as an antagonist or foil, in some adventure or misadventure that I'm recounting, but even then the story is usually not about him but about our home or our neighbourhood or - most often - our child, and his prominence in the story is merely a function of his indispensability to the scene.
I don't say much about my husband here, nor about our marriage. I don't, I feel, have enough propriety over those stories to assert myself as narrator of those stories. They are not mine to share. They are his stories - or, in the case of our marriage, our stories. So it is that you rarely read anything substantive about my husband.
Which is a shame, because you would like him, you really would. He's a wonderful, wonderful man: one of those souls who is just genuinely good, genuinely concerned about the world around him and everyone in it, who is just naturally, effortlessly generous and kind and not in the cloying manner of someone who wants recognition or a place in the kingdom of God for their efforts but in the straightforward and authentic manner of someone who knows that we all just have to be good to one another if we're going to get along. And he loves animals and children, all of them, except maybe the really unpleasant ones and the older ones with the silly pants dropped below their skinny asses (the kids, not the animals), and always has, even before we had our own. I've seen him moved, really moved, at the sight of young boys at play.
All of which would make him sound really kind of wussy, but that's the thing, probably the biggest thing, that I love about him: he is at once the kindest and gentlest human being that I know, and the strongest. He's a big guy - 6 foot 5 - and he's got broad shoulders and strong arms and although he thinks that he's a bit too thin, he's not at all, and he uses every muscle in his body and brain to take care of us, his wife and his daughter, whether that means getting car commercials made in the Arctic circle so that there's money for diapers and holidays and a roof over our heads or building a swingset in the backyard so that WonderBaby can play first thing in the morning and last thing at night or gutting the bathroom so that I can have a soaker tub (he meant well, he really did) or protecting us from bears (which he hasn't done yet but I know that he could.)
He's funny; he's really, really funny. He can make me laugh harder than anybody, although sometimes he gets carried away with the puns and I have, on more than one occasion, had to stifle (usually unsuccessfully) exasperated groans.
He's manly, in the best sense of the word, in the classical sense of the word, whether taken from the ancient Greek (from the Greek aner, the genitive andros, the condition of being excellent in his form as a man, a male human being, in all that is characteristic of that masculine humanity) or the ancient Roman (from the Latin vir, the root of our word for virtue, which used to mean, as in the Greek, the condition of being excellent qua man - strong and spirited and inclined to apply strength and spirit and reason in the service of family and community.) He will, secretly, be pleased by this description, but he will be uncomfortable with my saying it out loud, with my public assertion that he is manly. He will be embarassed, and he will say so. I will reply that his embarassment makes him all the more manly, in my eyes.
He's not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination: he's not too good with keeping up with birthdays and anniversaries and he maybe expected a bit too much of me when he expected me to jump up and down excitedly at the prospect of spending a week in an RV with his mother (I didn't sell that one very well, did I? he said later, in a perfect expression of understatement)(and might I just add here, to avoid any possibility of further argument on the issue, that my subdued reaction to the suggestion of the mother-in-law/RV combo was not in any way a reflection of any antipathy toward his mother but rather a reflection of the bald fact that mothers-in-law and RVs do not, in combination, make for relaxing vacations. If anyone disagrees with me here feel free to speak up, but my bet is that this is a universal - nay, scientific - truth.) Also, he's not the tidiest person and did I mention the puns? He is not perfect.
But I'm not perfect either; contrary to all appearances, I am far from it. But I'm perfect for him and he's perfect for me and that, my friends, my dear, dear friends, is probably all that you need to know.
This Birthday Message Has Been Brought To You By Crayola Washable Markers and PBS.
We're perfect for each other, we two, we three.
Happy birthday, doofus. I love you.
Great heaping bajillions of thanks to K and Dispatch Mom and Miscellaneous Mum for awarding, respectively, "Mommy" and "The Street of Misfit Toys" Perfect Post Awards. So banal to say, but so, so true: I'm honoured. Muchly. Thank you.