Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

May 18, 2009

The Man-Purse Challenge

"Can you hold this for me?"

Sounds like an innocent enough question. And when my purse has any spare room, as it often does, I always say yes.

It's rarely a woman who asks me this question. Mostly because she would also be carrying a purse to hold her standard must-carry items - wallet, phone, lipstick, tampons.

But the man-- the poor man. Cursed with the back pocket as his only solution. Before the cell phone and other bulkier electronic must-carry items, all the man needed to worry about was the wallet. Easy enough to slip in the back pocket. No lipstick, hopefully, to worry about and all that jangling change goes in the front pocket or gets left in a jar at home.

Well, those days of pity are over. We all have bulky items we need to carry around these days, whether we wear lipstick and sanitary napkins or not. And it only seems fair that men should have to carry their load.

The first year of my relationship with Wine Guy I would respond with, "You need a good bag to carry your stuff." This was met with a stern look, and my purse got heavier.

Then I went sarcastic (always my first, less effective fallback). "Seriously, you need a man-purse." This was met with an even sterner, "No way."

Now, two years later, I've pretty much given up and accepted my lot in life -- say , "Sure" and and shove his items into my purse. Sometimes he even slips them in without my knowledge. Then, of course, it's my duty to remember they are there and return them to him before we eventually go our separate ways.

I haven't given Wine Guy crap about his need for a man-purse in awhile. But his birthday is fast approaching and, well, it's hard for me to imagine someone of any gender wouldn't want a wonderful bag to carry their most beloved items (I am a woman after all). So I thought I'd give it the old college try one more time, minus the sarcasm.

"How about a nice bag for your birthday?" I asked as I fished his phone and wallet out of my purse while standing together in a dark parking lot.

Clearly, time has not healed this wound. He responded, "Seriously, don't even think about it getting me that. I won't use it."

I handed his items over and mumbled, "I know." Defeat.

So....should I give up and consider myself his human purse? Or have any of you ladies (or men) found a solution? There's got to be some item out there (short of a fanny pack) that could please us both?



May 14, 2009

Games for Grownups

After two years, I can't freakin' believe Wine Guy finally tricked me into allowing video games into the house.

I HATE video games.

OK, the vintage Atari 2600 games are just fine in my book. Lord knows I spent much of my youth playing them. But as a teenage babysitter, I saw how absolutely mindless and antisocial the boys I watched became while playing.

Then throw in Naval A-hole and the marathon sessions of Halo with his squadron buddy that he forced me to attend during my visits up to rural Washington state just to see him....well, you can see why I dislike them so much.

Wine Guy is well aware of this and has been respectful. So much so that he refrained from setting up his PS2 station when we moved in together. Now that's restraint.

But when I came home tonight, I walked into what looked like Christmas morning.

A few days ago WG's boss gave him a beautiful new LCD HDTV as a surprise bonus. Well, since that was "free," WG figured he might as well invest a little money in some additional video technology to make our set up even better.

While I was at the movies tonight, WG was at his weekly wine tasting talking it over with his friends. When he told them how much I loathe all things video game, one of them suggested a Wii as a possible solution. He bit.

One trip to Best Buy later and all of a sudden we are the proud owners of a Wii console and a Wii Fit. He bought the latter as a "surprise" for me because I have heard good things from a few of my like-minded female friends and talked about wanting to try it.

At first I was a little stunned and perhaps scared that our nights would now consist of me sitting on the couch "watching" WG play games and waiting for him to finish so we could actually, you know, talk or something. He was a little disappointed that I didn't jump with joy and cover him with grateful kisses.

But once he got it going, the thank you kisses were aplenty. Next thing I know, here I am at 12:30am sitting on the couch and watching him snowboard. And providing my own play by play. And having fun.

This after an hour of setting up our Miis (our customized avatars), trying some balance games and aerobics on the Fit, and building our teamwork skills by playing a few games of doubles tennis together. We're talking high fives and everything (OK, that was me getting a little too competitive).

If this is the what video games are now, then I might just have to change my mind. This could be the best thing that has happened to us in awhile. I'm talking "quality time," not to mention setting fitness goals and reaching them together on the Wii Fit (how cool is that!) Or it could just be the honeymoon phase. Only time will tell.


Addendum: I started writing this during WG's third snowboard run, suddenly inspired with a relationship story to tell that wasn't throughly depressing. I've been writing for about 15 minutes and about two minutes ago he turned to me and said with a kinda cute whine, "[Trooper], come and watch. Come and appreciate my skills!"

Oh shit.

Dismissed again.

May 9, 2009

"I"s and "We"s - Part I

I knew there was trouble when she stopped using the word “I.” You know, that all-important word that represents the individual in us all. The word that is so important that it must be capitalized. Well, when Blonde Wife had her baby, that word ceased to exist.

“How are you doing?” I would ask.

“Oh, we’re doing really great,” she’d reply.

Uh, OK. Try again.

“What have you been up to lately?”

“Oh, lots. First we went to the park. Then we went to the local pool and signed up for swim lessons. You have to get on the waiting list at least two years ahead you know.”

No. I didn’t know that.

I was a bridesmaid in her wedding a few years ago. We must still have something in common.

“So how are you feeling?”

“Well, Blonde Baby vomited yesterday. But I think it was just a little gas. We’re feeling much better today. I don’t think it was anything serious.”

I knew I’d lost her. Blonde Wife was gone. Blonde Mom was here to stay.

But I still didn’t care. I thought the world of this person. I’d met her in grad school and immediately knew she was one of those rare women who I absolutely, totally admired. She was beautiful. Humble. Funny as shit. Intelligent and interested in subjects far deeper than the latest celebrity scandal. But she wasn’t above a good poop joke either. She had a wonderful relationship with her soon-to-be-husband that I hoped to someday emulate, and, best of all, she seemed to “get me” -- and liked me anyway. When she asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, I was so honored I couldn’t get to the dreaded David’s Bridal fast enough.

So when I realized she was letting this wonderful “I” individual go and replacing her with a “We” I didn’t quite understand, I was let down.

I had no problem with her first, subtler “We,” transition when she met, dated, moved in with, and then married her husband. But there was still plenty of room left over for the woman I treasured as a friend. Plus, I liked the man she chose to spend her life with.

But Blonde Baby changed everything. First they moved to the northern suburban outskirts of town. That’s fine. I’ve got plenty of mom friends who moved to the boonies with their babies. No biggie. If you are important enough to my life, I will make the effort. Hell, I’ve got a calendar. Let’s get it on the books.

So Blonde Mom and I would schedule plans – dinner at her place with the family – about a month ahead of time. The Blonde Family is very busy after all with the various in-laws and rigorous baby schedule. But when the day would arrive, she would cancel via email with some seemingly heartfelt excuse. Of course I understood.

So we’d go for round two and plan another dinner a few weeks down the road. I wanted them to meet and get to know Wine Guy. Blonde Wife had met him once, only briefly, and I felt that people who are so important to me should get the chance to bond in a more meaningful way. I told her this.

She canceled again.

So we go one more round.

When she canceled the third time, I finally threw up my hands up and said “OK, ball’s in your court.” Of course, by this time (six+ months later) Wine Guy didn’t understand why I cared so much. I mean, who the hell are these people anyway? Obviously they can’t be that important to me if we’ve been together over a year and they’ve barely even met.

No matter how much I tried to argue him on the matter, I knew he was right. It was about time I started to take the hint. Especially after I learned, via a Facebook status update, that Blonde Wife was pregnant with Blonde Baby #2. I dutifully submitted my public “Congratulations” wall post. No response.

Then I learn through yet another Facebook status update that it’s a boy. A perfect balance to their now three-year-old girl. I gave my public “Congratulations” wall post. No response.

The I learn through a Facebook wall post that Blonde Wife made on a mutual friend’s wall that there were complications with the pregnancy that sounded pretty serious.

Suddenly it hit me. A sad fact I figured out a few friends-with-first-babies ago that I somehow always manage to forget all over again. Just because I consider someone part of my family, doesn’t mean I’m a part of theirs.

And just to clarify in case some of you moms are wondering, I love kids - including hers -- and was/am always willing to make Blonde Baby #1 part of whatever plans we made together and spent plenty of time talking about all things baby with her before she bailed on me.

But I’m not one of those people who go quietly into the night – especially when it comes to a friend I really trust and believe in. So I decided I had nothing to lose but ask her straight out – are we friends or what?

Wine Guy was strongly against this maneuver. He urged me to just “get over it" (quite possibly the most infuriating advice ever given). Plus, he didn’t know her like I did. We were FRIENDS. I considered myself a savvy friend-picker at this point, and I was 100% sure that there was something I was missing here. Something about our friendship that could be fixed.

So I wrote her an email that said,
“…without Facebook I wouldn't know that you are A) pregnant B) having a boy and C) having complications, surgeries and mandatory bed rest (I'm sorry about everything in C). Are we friends or what?.. it's very hard to be just "Facebook friends" with someone I felt so close to not long ago. Especially when you are going through big life moments - good and bad….Did I do something? Do I just not fit into your world now?... I don't know....I've been through many scenarios in my head and finally just said 'screw it' - and thought I'd actually just ask you.”

In the closing (not included above) I tried very hard not to push too hard and to let her know that my thoughts are with her during what I assume is a tough time (but don't know the details since she hasn't talked to me in months). I asked her to get back to me when and if she felt ready.

Overall it was a sincere attempt to be honest and straightforward. If you know me at all (and she does), you'd know I meant it.

The Blonde Wife I knew would have responded with a real answer. Of course, this is assuming she hadn’t morphed into some sort of alien “We.” You be the judge – here’s her response word for word.

“Thank you for your words of concern about my health. It's been a very scary time for us. However, as you might imagine, I am nowhere near being able to respond to the rest of your message. I'm feeling "kicked while I am down," by it quite frankly. Right now my priorities are to focus on being well enough to be here for Blonde Baby#1 and not to lose this baby [Blonde Baby #2].”

Ouch. Much worse than I ever anticipated. I certainly wasn't intending to jeopardize her baby's by asking about our friendship. I just wanted to be included in her life.

Two weeks later I see another Facebook post she made about her family's upcoming vacation to Hawaii. You tell me. If you are well enough to fly six hours to an island vacation destination, don’t you think you could – at the very least – reply to an email from one of your three freakin’ bridesmaids who just wants to be your friend?

This vacation announcement hurt more than her original response to me. So I decided to spare myself further pain by "unfriending" her from Facebook to avoid any more updates about her ultra active “We” life. Shortly thereafter I took Wine Guy’s advice and emotionally gave up on our friendship -- probably about eight months after she did.

This all took place in January 2009, and the exchange kicked off a massive depression for me. Mostly because it felt like a confirmation of my deepest, darkest fears that I always hoped were entirely delusional; that as a single, childless woman, I am thoroughly insignificant in the eyes of a woman with a husband and child(ren).

And I don’t mean this to sound as self-deprecating as it does. I don’t even take it all that personally, really. How could I when there is absolutely NOTHING I can think of to justify why Blonde Wife would do this except for the fact that she is totally and completely immersed in her new role as Mom? She moved to a Mom neighborhood. She made all new Mom friends who do all sorts of Mom activities together. And she just simply doesn’t have room for my silly little dating/job/dog life anymore.

This thought hurt me more than if she had replied with, “You are a total bitch. I hate it when you _____ and I never want to talk to you again.” Then at least I would have a reason. Something to improve upon. Or at least something to tell her to go fuck herself over.

But this? This is just….life. People move on. I totally get that. But I just thought our friendship was a bit deeper than that. Like the handful of other women I adore who have had children and haven’t flicked me off their lapel like piece of worthless lint.

Granted, many of them have moved on or evolved past the "I" stage. But there’s that certain few who, even if we don't speak for six months at a time, when we do connect it’s like not a moment has passed. And nobody’s mad at anyone for disappearing for awhile.And when we do finally get together, I don’t mind if we spend the day with their kids, talking about their kids, while sitting poolside at their kid’s swim lesson. As long as we know that we are important to each other – that’s all I ask.

But you just can’t avoid the inevitable. Along with that baby comes a wall that keeps the “I”s and “We”s just a little bit separated. It’s nothing personal. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t casualties – usually on the “I” side.

…..To Be Continued…