Thursday, September 08, 2005

Boys & Girls

I rush out of the room to tell Jason that I am blind with hunger. Ravenous, I tell him; in need of sustenance, and fast. I confirm that a tomato sandwich sounds wonderful, and that a cup of milk would really hit the spot.

He places before me a tall, sweating glass filled with cold milk. Sharp intake of breath. I waver, and then thank him. But on the inside, I am screaming: glass! I said cup!

I might not normally be so exacting, except for the fact that I have been working hard with Jason to teach him the difference between these two things. After 4 years of prompts and 6 months of intensive instruction, Jason still does not realize that a cup and a glass are two very different things.

And this is not the half of it! If I ask for a napkin, more often than not, he'll bring me paper towel, even if the napkins are closer. Sometimes he'll tear off a square, other times he'll plop the whole roll off its holder and toss it into my lap, leaving a trail of unraveled paper towels to cover the trajectory. When he's being fancy, he'll fold the paper towel in half, making an awkward rectangle that dwarfs the place setting. I have told him that napkins are for the civilized; that paper towels are for cleaning up messes and napkins are for dabbing at the mouth. He just shrugs that shrug of his and says "Well, I have a big mouth."

And really, how can I argue that?

Oh, I've tried during our 6 looooooong years together to turn him into a gentleman, but I still see glimpses of the bachelor he was before he met me. I have this image in my mind of the bachelor way of life, basically consisting of layers of dirt and foodstuffs whose main ingredients are corn oil and powdered cheese. And when Jason manages to talk about the dark ages before I came along, he mostly confirms these ideas of mine.

I remember when we first moved in together, I woke up one morning to the sight of him making grilled cheese and helping himself to a glass of 7up. He was proud of himself for making such a nice little meal, while I could barely contain my disgust. My delicate stomach does not allow for the sight or smell of these things - lunch foods for breakfast, oh my! And when he lived on his own, things were much, much worse. He once confessed to eating day-old pizza that had not been refrigerated overnight! Oh, my stomach still turns at the thought of that one. And so it has been my duty to instruct him on the inclusion of vegetables with every meal, and the benefits of clean kitchen surfaces.

But every now and then, the age of Before Jamie rears its ugly little head, and we have to have little refresher courses on why one condiment at a time will quite suffice and why men who hope to get laid should always shell out for nice shoes.

Oh, the shoes. The shoes! The horror! When Jason and I first started "dating", he wore a ratty pair of lace-up dress shoes that his mother had hurriedly bought him for a funeral when he was 15. They were bargain-basement shoes and they made me want to dump him, fast. And the most amazing part was that he would show up all svelte in expensive suits...and then the footwear just ruined it all. He quite happily accepted my gift of a very nice pair of shoes shortly thereafter, but was appalled when I brought him round immediately to the dumpster out back so we could be rid of the thighs-slamming-shut shoes he had before. He pleaded for their salvation of course; insisted he'd get blisters wearing the new ones right off the bat.

So I made him a deal: either the shoes went, or I did.

A year and a half later he was married wearing those spiffy new shoes, and nowadays when I tease him about his shoes BJ, his eyes glaze over and he claims to have no memory of them. Good man.

So, he's learning. Slooooowly. One day at a time. He doesn't complain when I ask him to grab the laundry off the floor, but he still administers the sniff test when sorting clean from dirty. In fact, he is mystified at how I determine the cleanliness of my clothes since according to his nose, they always smell so nice. Oh, boys.

But anyways, the point is, I didn't say anything about the milk in the glass because boys are very skittish. You have to lead them by the hand very carefully, and ply them with plenty of praise. You have to pretend to be mightily impressed when they make the bed, and the more you can equate sex with housework, the more successful you will be. But it's a pain-staking process and it doesn't come without sacrifice.

Like when you finish your tomato sandwich and wipe your mouth daintily with the big honking chunk of paper towel that's been ripped off and handed to you, and your husband asks how many more you can eat, and you say none, and there's a pregnant pause before your husband exclaims "You said you were blind with hunger! One sandwich does not fill you up!!!" and all you can really do is shake your head, because some things will never change.

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