I am blessed to have a husband who is tall, dark, and handsome. He looks like a manly man with his chiseled jaw, wide shoulders, and big, strong hands. He acts the part as well--changing flat tires on the side of the highway, swinging a hammer to build a fence, and yelling at the TV during a ball game. He can spend hours with his running buddies and never discuss anything deeper than chili recipes or the quarterback controversy for the upcoming football season.
Most of the time, Jeff is very secure in his masculinity. There are just a few exceptions:
1) Never, under any circumstance, is he going to share a bed with another man. If a group of four guys go on a trip and rent a hotel room with two beds, this presents a problem. It does not matter that Jeff and a potential male bed partner are 100% heterosexual and know each other well. Jeff would rather sleep in the bathtub with a sheet than sleep with a man. This is an affliction largely limited to males, and I have yet to hear an adequate explanation. The best they can do is say "you have to be a man to understand." (Total cop out!) On the contrary, I and most women have no problem sharing a bed with a female friend if necessary--what's the big deal?
2) Jeff will not wear a pink shirt. He says it does not favor his olive complexion, (or something like that), though I suspect the issue goes deeper. Wives usually make lousy therapists (says Jeff) so I not analyze this detail further.
3) Jeff will not get a manicure or pedicure. He did once, when he won a club trip through work and was tricked into registering at the resort spa for the "Gentleman's Package." He felt so emasculated after the facial and nail treatments that he was unable to open a jar of honey so that I could sweeten my herbal tea. He has never fully recovered from this indignity.
If you had asked me prior to Lent if there is something else Jeff won't do because it assaults his masculinity, I would have cited his refusal to use any type of hygiene product marketed expressly to women. However, when we gave up "unnecessary consumer spending" and his treasured Right Guard deodorant ran dry, he had to choose between wearing no deodorant or using Powder Scent Secret, complete with a pink ribbon and pretty flower on the packaging.
Jeff's company is in bankruptcy and he needs all the leverage he can get in order to avoid layoffs. Having excessive B.O. will not be a plus when it comes time to pass out the pink slips. Plus, he respects me and the general public enough to use deodorant, even if it makes him smell like baby powder with a hint of tiger lily. I was proud of him and told him so.
There were other substitutions, as well. We ran out of pancake mix, so Jeff found a recipe on the back of a box of Bisquick and made some delicious fluffy pancakes. We were out of pancake syrup, so we substituted chocolate syrup, which turned out to taste awesome!
My weekly swimming sessions went forward without my swim cap, which ripped on the second day of our fast, and my swim goggles, which fell apart a few weeks later. After my swim goggles bit the dust, I was unable to see the blue line at the bottom of the pool which directs me in a straight line. Without goggles, I looked like the equivalent of a drunk driver, careening recklessly from one side of my lane to the next. Only the floating plastic blue ropes on the sides of my lane kept me from colliding into other swimmers.
I was embarrassed, but at least the lifeguard was amused. She used her phone to film me. I may be featured on You Tube as the "Drunken Swimmer Who Would Fail A Pool Sobriety Test" for all I know.
Mika and Macy survived Spring Break without us spending a dime on entertainment. They were unhappy when I refused to take them to see the Lorax movie, claiming they were the ONLY ONES not at the theatre. Instead of the movies, I took them to get vaccinated for Typhoid in advance of our trip to Guatemala this summer. This temporarily earned me the distinction as "worst mom ever." I resorted to prying forgiveness from them by using two of the strongest weapons in my arsenal: a Barbie movie and a couple of sugar-laden cupcakes with extra sprinkles.
The moral of the story? We found our family can get by on less when we need to. We don't always have to have what we want when we want it (kids and adults alike). We discovered how prone we are to use money to solve our problems, provide entertainment, and make sure we are comfortable at all times. However, when we fasted from spending we were forced to use some ingenuity and creativity instead of mindlessly tapping the ATM or maxing out our credit card.
Having made these lofty observations, I would be a liar if I didn't say that I am glad to have swim goggles so I can see clearly in the water again. Jeff was relieved to jettison the Secret Deodorant for a manly brand, and Mika and Macy were so happy when I took them back to Sonic I thought they might kiss the fluorescent menu, the carhop, or both.
And now? The iced-coffees from 7-Eleven taste delicious, summer sandals have been ordered from Zappos, and I'm not cooking every night thanks to Papa Johns and Babe's Chicken. Yipee!! I would be completely satisfied if I could solve one of life's greatest mysteries: "Why can't two straight dudes sleep in the same bed?"