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Effortlessly Average

Sort of half-heartedly leading the charge into mediocrity since, oh, let's say around 1987 or so.

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Proof that with internet access and a powerful laxative, even insipid people will blog; the place where your excellence and my mediocrity collide; where my Karma whips ass on your dogma.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Stranger Under Your Own Roof

Friday was BuddhaWife's birthday; my 16th with her. Generally speaking, however, we don't make a big deal out of our own birthdays, instead reserving elevating the "big deal quotient" for our kids. Those of us who are parents can attest to the fact that once you become a father or mother, depending on your particular needs, your bigger celebrations center around your children. We've found other ways to celebrate our partnership and I'd have to day, aside from being a singularly wonderful partner, she has proven to be an even better mother.

Now I consider myself to be a pretty good dad. I teach all the requisite dad lessons: belching, the universal uses for duct tape and WD-40, remote control ownership, maintaining that "all that cleaning junk" is the wife's job, and how to dodge various blunt objects that seem to take flight whenever I make that last comment.

Still, at the risk of sounding uncuous, I have to admit that I am beholden to BuddhaWife for most of the admirable traits our children display. They are both compassionate, respectful, thoughtful, and kind to others; something I attribute in large part to her tutelage despite my humorous claims at being "the good parent." Throughout our children's lives BuddhaWife has been a constant force of experience and guidance. She's the one who takes them to water parks a hundred times each summer. It's her who suggested they learn to snowboard. She exposed our daughter to animals via countless visits to animal parks, sanctuaries, and zoos, fostering our daughter's passion for zoology. She's been that mother who visits the classroom on a regular basis to help out. Until the last couple of years, she's been active in Mother/Child groups. It is in large part due to BW that our kids have thrived under the home schooling environment and they owe many of their fondest memories to her planning and thirst for adventure. It's because of her that ourt kids crave discovery.

Now that the kids are old enough to participate of their own accord, I thought it would be nice for them to play an active role in celebrating BW's birthday. On my way home from work Friday I called them to remind them to each make a birthday card for her and to let them know I was planning to stop at the local gigantamegamart for cake ingredients. My son answered the phone.

"Hey boy, this is Dad."

"Hey Dad."

"You and your sister doing ok?"

"Yeah." Of course I knew this is the answer I'd receive. The only time it's different is if either a limb is missing from someone's body (which luckily happens rarely) or one of them has taken the "choice" spot on the couch (which happens ALL. THE. FREAKING. TIME).

"Ok. Well you know that today is your mom's birthday right?"

"It is? Cool. Are we going to dinner or something?" he asked.

"No, she's working too late for that, but I thought I'd stop and buy the stuff needed to bake her a cake. While I'm doing that, could you and your sister make cards for her? I know she'd like that."

"Yeah, we could do that." Then he added, "we need to buy her a present, don't we?"

Now this is the only difficult thing about my wife. I admit I really scored in the "maintenance" department when it comes to her. I'm a firm believer that ther are really only three kinds of women:


  1. Type I: those who are high maintenance. These are the women who seem to believe that a good body means being allowed to require bank statements and a financial plan - and most importantly, a spending strategy - before they'll agree to a date. Paris Hilton and most of the girls who date Hugh Heffner fall into this category. You just know that if it weren't for money those guys wouldn't get closer than 50 yards to them. I condiser this group of women to be about a 7.5 on my "go-f*ck-yourself-o-meter" because while they may be disgusting as human beings, at least you know what you're getting when you go in (much like a root canal, Danielle Steel novel, or incumbent politician: they're stomach churning, but at least you know what to expect).
  2. Type II: those who truly don't care about the material things in life. The frequency of this type lies somewhere along the lines of the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, or the Bengals making it to the Super Bowl. These are women who don't care what you look like or how much money you have. What they want is something money or a great profile can't buy.
  3. Type III: those who are high maintenance but think they are low maintenance. Women of this type will insist they only want your love, but you have to realize that expressing that love requires grotesque self-indulgence. I've dated women who fell into this category. With them no offense - or perceived offense - would be dropped (they were never truly forgotten) until the room glittered with the fire of sunlight passing through a large diamond. To them my passion fell in direct proportion to the amount of flesh I was willing to trade for a stone mounted in a platinum setting. Yet the whole time they'd try to tell you they were just a simple girl satisfied in knowing that she had someone who loved her. Here's a sample of a typical conversation we'd have around, say, her birthday:

"What would you like for your birthday this year, hon?"

"Oh, I don't want a gift. Just a quiet dinner at home with you would be great."

So I, like an idiot, would figure that if she said she wanted a quiet dinner at home, that she really wanted a QUIET DINNER AT HOME! So I'd arrange a quiet dinner at home.

"You didn't get me a gift?"

"No. You said you didn't want one. You said you just wanted a quiet dinner at home."

She'd sit there in a huff, obviously pissed, until I broke the next cardinal rule and asked "what's wrong?"

"Nothing." Which is clearly not true, but pushing it would only increase her anger, until she'd reply, "well if you don't know, I'm not going to tell you."

It took me a little while to realize that "I don't want anything" actually means "I want something really big and expensive, but I want you to read my mind and figure it out so I can guage how well you know me and love me because that's what Cosmopolitan Magazine says a good husband and soulmate can do and I'm trying to determine if my mother's right when she says I'm too good for you."

Over the years BuddhaWife has proven, in fact, to be a Type II kind of woman. She doesn't require flowers, jewelry or expensive tokens of any kind. Oh I've tried, but while being gracious she also reminds me that she'd much rather that I skip spending that kind of money on "things." Now if given the option, she would travel for the rest of her life, even if it meant doing so with backpacks and hopping railcars.

To her way of thinking, a trip somewhere, building memories of things we did together, is far superior to receiving material tokens of affection. But she only wants to do so when finances allow; no borrowing money for trips. If finances or schedules don't allow for travel, however, just pay attention to her. Sit with her and watch a chick movie. Have an extended converstation. Go geocaching with her. Maybe try to curl her toes and take her to a place that isn't terrestrial. Or, better yet, do the dishes and clean the bathrooms. THESE are the things she truly desires. She's demonstrated that what she really wants is time with her best friend: you. This has saved me many thousands of dollars over the years, but it does have its own set of complications. What do you buy for a woman who really wants nothing? On this birthday, since we're saving money for the "Hippy Loving Bus Trip," as my brother calls it, we've decided gifts are out.

"No, son, we may go somewhere for your mom's birthday, but we're going to have to wait until after your last football game this weekend. There's a couple places she wants to go, but we can't do it until then. For tonight, a cake and cards will be enough."

"Oh, ok. Yeah, we can make cards while you get the cake stuff."

"Alrighty then. What kind of cake should I bake for her?"

Now keep in mind that this woman has been a major force in our son's life. They both have ADD, and it has been BuddhaWife who's responsible for teaching FlyBoy to use his IQ to overcome his brain's reluctance to remain focussed for long periods of time at a stretch. She's taken him hiking, biking, snowboarding, horseback riding, and geocaching more times than anyone can count. They used to go to gymnastics together. They attended mommy and me classes at the gym. They participated in martial arts together. She took him for rides on her Ninja (that is, my Ninja). She baked all his birthday cakes and threw big parties for him each year. She taught him how to write long-hand. She helped him learn how to play the guitar and proved how cool she is by learning a few bars of Led Zeppelin on her own. She talks to him like a person, making him feel like he's got a voice and opinion. She lets him be a child and tries to inspire him to be heard. And this is all in addition to the usual mommy stuff she's done, from nursing at all hours of the night to watching over him when he's sick. For the entire decade marking their time on this planet, she's been a stalwart becon in the lives of both of our kids, but, I suspect, has a closer connection to him than I do. Yet to my question regarding what kind of cake I should bake for her, he replied:

"I don't know, why don't you pick out the cake stuff. I don't know all that much about her anyway."

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