How to date your wife

Cream of tartar!  Semiconductors!  Onomatopoeia!  Gerbil bedding!  Notary public!  Joint compound!  Abstract expressionism!  Borscht!

That was me, trying to think of something, anything, to write about other than Valentine’s Day.  What do I know about Valentine’s Day, anyway?  It’s taken me most of my married life to admit that there’s not really anything wrong with women who like flowers, and it’s taken me another full year to admit that I’m actually one of them.

And yet here we are.

Well, from my meager mental resources, by which I mean that I just made 84 cupcakes, each with its own Froot By the Foot rosebud and I’m kind of tired and possibly a little bit drunk on icing, I can offer you this:

FIVE TIPS ON HOW TO DATE YOUR WIFE

1.  Practice your pick-up lines.

But I’m already married!  Why in the name of Cryil and Methodius do I have to worry about pick-up lines? you may ask yourself.  And then you may make some stupid joke about how you won’t be picking up your wife any time soon because your insurance doesn’t cover hernia surgery, and so on.  This is the wrong route to take.

What your wife wants to hear is something that shows that you don’t take her for granted—something that invites her to look at you with new eyes, rather than assuming she might as well have a paper bag over her head, as long as all the rest of the parts are in the right place.

Try something with equal parts romance and danger, such as, “Hey, baby, I’m feeling very . . . open to life tonight.”  It’s possible that she will pick up the first heavy object available and try to bash your head in with it, but at least you aroused some kind of reaction, which means you’re halfway there.

2.  Compliment her looks.

If a woman is home with a bunch of kids all day long, she knows that if she steps out of the house, all the men on the street are going to see one thing:  a mess.  A saggy-bellied, baggy-eyed, slump-shouldered, spit up-caked, used-up, milk-smelling, mom-haired mess.

What you need to do to win her heart and put a spring back into her step is to let her know that you don’t see her that way.  You know her heart, and you see the grace and loveliness that will always be there.  So you can try something like, “Have I told you how nice your abdominal muscles look, all separated like that?”  or “I think women with one shoulder that’s lower than the other one are the sexiest ones in the world, don’t you?”

3.  Spend lavishly.

Show her you think she’s worth it.  Take my word for it, she’ll know she’s dealing with a prince among men when she sees you lay that money down.  “Darlin’,” you can say with youthful impetuousness, “let’s go ahead and pay the electric bill on time this month—how’d that be?  Sky’s the limit, or up until 40 kilowatt hours, whichever comes first”  Swoon!

4.  Ply her with cocktails.

Okay, you may actually have to slow her down on this one.  It could be cute to offer little jests such as, “Slow down, little girl—that’s no shirley temple!”  Then you can have a good laugh, as long as it doesn’t interfere with you getting Mama some more ice.

5.  Heat things up with an intimate shower.

And by intimate, I mean just her.  She hasn’t washed her hair in, like, five weeks, and she doesn’t even get to check on how her mustache is coming along without answering a lot of stupid questions.  Stand in front of the door with a rifle, if necessary, but DO NOT LET ANYONE ELSE IN THE BATHROOM.  Remember:  40 kilowatt hours.  You promised.

Gentlemen, you can thank me later.  Right after you go get Mama some more ice.

***

A version of this post originally ran in the National Catholic Register in 2012.

When she was just a little girl, I asked my readers . . .

What will she be?

 

 

What happened was, a compassionate friend sent me a “There, there” bottle of Tanqueray, and my five-year-old immediately got a fork and pried off the red seal. Benny wanted one, too. So she muscled open the fridge, found a bottle of wine and a fork. When I asked what she was doing, she struck this pose.

I feel like there is . . . something . . . in the future for this kid. But what? Will she be a pirate? Scourge of heretics? Doctor of the Church? Crazy fork lady? All of the above?

Seven Quick Takes, In Which I May Be a Bit Dehydrated

1.  Yay, Patheos tech team!  They brought my archives over from my old blog.  My pages, too, which I’ll be updating soon.  Stay tuned for a list of top ten favorite posts, or at least top posts which seem entertaining without triggering any calls to child protective services.

2.  My Register post is up:  The Happiest Voice.  Last week I had The Saddest Voice.  I think I’m onto something here.  Stay tuned next Friday for The Voice Which Best Exemplifies Perfect Indifference.

3.  In a recent bout of economizing, I told my husband I was ready to downgrade on gin. I am now the proud owner of a nice, big bottle of something called New Amsterdam, and for all I know it does taste exactly like New Amsterdam.

But more importantly, stone cheap.

 

(My husband, being a gentleman, did tap on it before he bought it, to make sure the bottle was actually glass.)  It’s not quite as smooth as my favorite Tanqueray, but it tastes fine.  But the next day, I remembered something I used to know:  when you buy liquor, what you’re really paying for is the next day.

 

(Sorry, I just realized this is the second time this week I’ve used an adorable animal to express my inner disposition.  This stops now.)

4.  Speaking of thrift, my son recently showed me his toes.  He was wearing sneakers at the time.  So I had a free moment and headed to the Salvation Army to look for some replacement shoes.  They didn’t have anything for him, but they did have these for $5:

 

which I had no choice but to buy for my 7-year-old daughter.  They have little disks built into the sole, so you can spin around like a beeeutiful spinning ballerina princess ballerina.  Now obviously, a seven-year-old girl is capable of spinning around without the aid of a special shoes; but then you don’t get to be the greatest mother in the world for ten minutes until you say no to a third ice pop.

5.  100 years ago, Igor “Why You Do Me That Way” Stravinsky premiered his insane, herky jerky, dissonant Rite of Spring

It doesn’t get really nutso until about the 3:33 mark.  People were so upset by what they heard and saw that there was a riot.  A RIOT, because the music wasn’t beautiful, and people still wanted and expected art and music to be beautiful.

Now, I’m of two minds here.  I like Stravinsky, and I’m not one of those people who insists on all harmony all the time.  I’ve sat through John Cage concerts, and I listened hard.  I went to Die Alte Pinakothek and did not skip the abstract expressionists, but lavished my eyeballs all over them all afternoon long.  On the other hand, I want to give those concert rioters a medal, because first there was the Rite of Spring, and now there’s this.  Where were the rioters when these folks

 

 

took the stage?  To poop on stage?  Because art, that’s why?  I would make some puns about the heavy load that an artist bears, but I’m too busy weeping until I’m dead.

6.   If you hear anything about whether or not print newspapers can survive, here’s something to keep in mind:  my husband is a reporter, and the other night he emailed me to let me know that he was running late, and that he would be bringing home some cheese.  He said that a cheesemaker owed the paper some money for advertising, and that they had persuaded the ad guy to let them pay their bill in cheese.  So, there you are.  Buy newspapers when you can, before the business acumen leads them to trade in the good camera for a sack full of magic beans and five shares of Enron.

7.  And here is a common potoo:

 

You may think the photographer just caught him at a bad moment, but no — that’swhat the common potoo always looks like.  This particular potoo is named Igor Stravinsky, and he looks like his week has been about as much fun as mine.

Hey, happy Friday!  And happy summer, dammit!  Finally.

I’ll just say it for you: AWESOME!

Since as many as two of my readers have asked for pictures of my van (which I described here), here are some pictures of my van:

You know what, I think one picture is enough.  You get the general idea.  Contain your jealousy!  If anyone deserves to tool around rural southern New Hampshire in a vehicle this awesome, it’s me.

As you will see, it is an intimidating vehicle, weighing in at two-and-a-half tons of pure kid-schlepping menace.  If you are unlucky enough to find yourself stuck behind our van in traffic, you’ll have this stonelike visage to contend with:

So what we have here is not so much a picture of how the decals under the back windows resemble the mustache of Muammar El Qadaffi, as an illustration of the law of diminishing returns, exacerbated by the husband who brings around gin.  That is to say, the harder I worked on this stupid picture, the stupider it got, until my husband came along and asked what I was doing.  So I explained it, and then he decided to bring around some gin.

Oh, the time stamp on this post that says 7 a.m.?  Don’t think about it too hard.

Why we’re dropping out of home school

A couple of people have asked why we’re not home schooling any more.  We will be, a little bit — my six-year-old son will be at home for first grade, and my four-year-old daughter keeps handing me notes composed of random letters, in a pathetic plea to be taught how to read and write.

And of course we’ll keep our feral three-year-old, whom no school can hold, and the smartest baby in the world (16 months old), who is not only putting together two- and three-word sentences, she can say “Come ON!” just like Gob Bluth.  So clearly, we will be maintaining a richly educational atmosphere, even though I’m sending the oldest four off to a classroom.

I don’t know, is it too passé to say I’m burnt out?  It wasn’t the hard work that wore me out; it was the crappy job I did, and the worrying about it.  That’s what was so exhausting.  And then there was this:

(This was the first day of school last year.  We wondered why she was letting us get math done.)

We had nice times,  when the kid would have revelations about free will, or when they’d groan because it was the end of our Latin lesson.  The dining room is still decorated with the heraldic coats of arms we designed for our Medieval unit, and there were some thrilling moments in stovetop meteorology experiments.

But I was sitting here ordering the math books for the school year (yes, now.  Shut up!  It isn’t even labor day yet) and feeling nothing but weariness.  We enjoyed some of the benefits home schoolers promise:  the closeness, the leisure, the freedom, the intensity, the depth.  But really just not often enough.  We did it for six years, and I’m about ready for something different (not necessarily easier!) for a while.

If I’ve learned anything in the last twelve years (and I haven’t), it’s that you never, never know what your life will look like this time next year– so who knows?  Maybe we’ll go back to home school next year.  Or maybe the world will come to an end, and I won’t have to explain place value again.

The four oldest kids have a lovely, rural charter school to go to, and I want them to be happy and busy.  Also, a couple of them turned out to be more complicated than we thought.  And I’m not the kind of mother that it’s okay to be around all day.

I do know that all my kids have learned that reading is a wonderful way to spend your time, and that figuring out things and hearing new ideas is thrilling.  They aren’t embarrassed to talk about ideas, and they have no idea how dorky they are.  So I feel more or less okay with the start I’ve given them.

Boy, I wish I still had that gin in the photo.