Sitting at the dentist’s office last week, my husband and I waited while our eldest had a tooth extracted. I put my head back and tried to relax – and then I heard my husband moan.
I opened one eye and glanced at him sideways. I wasn’t really in the mood for conversation. He kept sighing and tsking while leafing through one of those glossy men’s magazines with a pumped young guy on the cover. The guy looked like he had just jumped out of a pool, body oiled, glistening in the sun, tight abs, over-developed pecs…you get the picture.
“OK. What’s the matter?”
“Look at this guy,” Mark said. “This magazine is ridiculous. I don’t know anyone who looks like this. Do you?”
“Yeah. All the guys I work with at the newspaper.”
I reassured him that I was joking, and couldn’t help but feel relieved that the Sports Illustrated bathing suit issue wasn’t in the waiting room.
My husband was blue. “These magazines are not for the regular guy like me with the wife and kids. There’s nothing in here that pertains to my life.”
He gave examples: Why was there an article on how to choose the right kind of socks to go with the $1000 suit rather than a piece on how to take off your socks when your back hurts so much you can barely bend over? And who are these young guys wearing $1000 suits? Wall Street? And how come none of the models had chest hair?
“I bet they get waxed. And they probably moisturize. And how the hell do you know when to use fruit acid and when to use glycolic acid? And how come when I moisturize my face breaks out?”
Frankly. I was far more concerned with David’s extraction, but I humored him. “I think it’s just supposed to be light reading.”
He ignored me. “And look at this! I don’t take vacations like this in Vail. I don’t need pocket-sized binoculars and a bike rack. I don’t even have a bike.” He was getting gloomy now. “Maybe they should run a piece about the best inflatable back pillow to take on long distance roads trips with three kids in a mini van. Or the best insoles that prevent sciatica. And all these ads for Mercedes.”
“You have insoles,” I said tentatively.
“And who has two hours a day to make a ‘hearty stew?’ And that’s after you spend three hours a day pumping iron. Three hours? If I ate a hearty stew after that kind of workout my abs would rip out from acid indigestion. And two minutes of teeth brushing with a whitening powder while you’re blasting Stairway to Heaven? Eating kale? What’s kale? And learning to play guitar like Eddie Van Halen? Who ARE these men? If I brushed my teeth any more vigorously, my gums would bleed.”
Suddenly, he was sitting very rigidly. I thought maybe he was working on his posture.
“What’s the matter now?” I asked.
“If you must know, I can’t turn my neck. I have pain now that’s radiating down my shoulder. Do you know how nerdy I look when a pretty woman walks by and I have to turn my entire body with little foot movements just to take a peek?”
“I didn’t know you looked at other women,” I teased.
“Well, I don’t. Because I can’t turn my neck.”
I took the magazine from him. There was a write-in section from men in quest of the erogenous zone, questions about free range chicken, and how to determine if a peach is ripe. I laughed out loud as Mark read over my shoulder.
“Look, guys like me don’t care about peaches and chickens,” my husband said as if I’d accused him of something. “We don’t have time for that. And by the way, I have a confession – those pants you bought me for Christmas are too small.”
“I bought you the large. I guess you need extra large.”
“No, I just need them a little, you know, bigger.”
“Well, that would be extra large,” I said gently. “But they’re probably just the wrong style. Not manly enough for a man like you.” It was all I could do not to laugh. “I’ll just return them. And on the way home, let’s buy a free range chicken and some peaches.”
And with that, he creakily turned his neck and kissed me.
I refrained from handing him Reader’s Digest.