From the seasonal romance archives: Single white snowman
I come across a
brilliant pretty good familiar piece of writing on the Internet. But I don't recognize the site. How did my essay get transported in its entirety to a website I don't work for?
The next thing I know, Mr. K has fired off an e-mail of his own, only his is less polite and carries a rocket-launched payload.
Now I have to get him to stand down so that I can resolve this in my own well-mannered fashion. Which will take twice as long, but whatever.
"You are such a bulldog," I tell him. "It's turning me on a little. But stop."
He replies: "You can't just invite me to help and then command me to heel. Although that turns me on a little."
I am so getting that guy a leash and a collar. But just for fun.
from the suburban man archives: Sh*% your Ken doll says
No question is too big or too flammable for these junior scientists, who packed flames, poison and perfume into an array of exhibits that threatened to eclipse all previous years for sheer hazard level.
Some observers noted the distinctly dad-inspired character of this year's experimentation, with fire, poison, snack food and toilet paper-related inquiries outnumbering safe science and perfume making by a margin of 4-1.
It might surprise you to learn the answer is not "hip hop." But possibly because they only considered alternative, country and classical. Who can say, really, which the bunnies actually prefer? They might have moved faster to get away.
Because in science, of course, every answer is the start of another question. Why won't Principal Killjoy allow a live demonstration of the flame-spewing sound wave tube? And whose job is it to clean up after the bunnies? Did it even matter whether the taste tasters were "spot on" or "far away"?
In the end, these questions would be left for the next crop of young scientists to unravel.
Except for the last one. That one at least, we can put behind us.
from the archives of scientific inquiry: Einstein's Mommy, School picture day in the elegant universe, Bottomless laundry pile may yield new insights into origins of the universe
I don't know if it has any sort of official recognition in the Manual of Weird-Ass But Undeniably Real Addictions (WABURA), but there is, for obvious reasons, no 12-Step Program for the sufferers of Compulsive Ladder Buying.
The latest object of Mr. Kamikaze's affection? A 32-foot aluminum monstrosity that will enable him to scale heights previously unreachable on any of the other five or six ladders crowding our garage, which includes one that he designed and built himself. A specialty ladder.
It is getting to be like a ladder museum in there. When he sees me laughing at his latest purchase he looks at me as if I have absolutely no concept of what it takes to prune the trees, hang Christmas lights or do that thing where you scoop dead leaves out of that little tray that goes around the edge of the roof.
Whatever. It's still funny.
from the suburban man archives: Man vs. Stump, Nothing sets the hearts of suburban women aflame like men on ladders
Sure, we're better drivers. Especially when going forward. We didn't need some insurance industry study to tell us that!
And yes, it turns out that we are just as funny as you are, possibly better with money, probably make better world leaders, and may offer a better return on investment in the corporate suite. (Man Down: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt That Women Are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers and Just About Everything Else, by Dan Abrams)
We also smell good and aren't afraid to ask for directions, but that doesn't mean we wouldn't be lost without you. It just means we wouldn't be lost as often.
But that is hardly reason to conclude that men are becoming obsolete.
What would even be the point of being better if there were no men around to make us seem better by being worse?
You complete us.
Besides, we depend on you for
everything! so many things!! some really important things.
So before you go putting any stock into the latest bit of scholarship describing the "end of men," ask yourselves: Will a vibrator get out of bed in the middle of the night to check out a scary noise? It will not. That technology is still years away!
Will our girlfriends show up with red wine and naked Daniel Craig movies when we are suffering from PMS and you are being an asshole? Of course they will. But that's still a two-man minimum, right there, not even acccounting for help with operating the remote control.
Call me sexist, but I don't think there is a woman alive who could convincingly fill the role of naked Daniel Craig. Meryl Streep, possibly, but I don't think you'd get more than an academic argument about putting that one in the "men are better" column.
And I don't care how far we've come, baby; you will never get me to admit that a woman is just as capable as a man when it comes to unclogging toilets.
Ditto for spider killing, grocery carrying, chest hair growing, floorboard painting and anything involving shovels. And while I don't have any hard numbers to back this up, I'm convinced men make superior superheroes, look better in tuxedos and make razor stubble sexy. I have never met the woman who can pull that off.
"What will you give me for this?" I say, putting myself between man and television, where a quartet of Las Vegas pawn dealers negotiate over somebody's 30-year-old collection of I-couldn't-care-less.
How hard is it to recognize that any animal print pattern is a go?
Look, I say, when I go to bed wearing cheetah print underwear, I do not expect to wake up in them.
"Leopard," he corrects me. "Snow leopard, looks like."
You know you are really off your game when an attempt at seduction turns into a discussion of taxonomy. There is no such thing as too obvious, apparently.
Scarred by rejection during the early parenting years when so many of his wrong-headed, middle of the night, first thing in the morning advances were rebuffed, The Suburban Man, it seems, does not appreciate subtlety in women's underwear.
Mr. Kamikaze likes to say he likes them all - on the floor. Hah! Don't try to convince us that you can't tell the difference between a $140 pair of La Perlas and the 3 for $10 pile at J.C. Penney. You could bring down the economy that way.
My point is, no one ever tells you there will come a day when you will have to compete for your husband's attention against a History Channel reality show set in a pawn shop.
We expect to have to work a little harder when we're unlucky enough to suffer inclinations during extra innings or a toilet replacement cliffhanger on the DIY network.
I've got contingency underwear ready in the event the Cubs ever make it to the playoffs and I know how to turn a discussion of 30-year-old plumbing sediment or door framing technique into a series of suggestions that can trump all but the most riveting episodes of This Old House.
Who doesn't? That stuff is practically porn in the suburbs.
But a bunch of pawn shop guys dickering over how much to pay for somebody's old toy collection? That is the worst idea for neglecting your wife I have ever heard. The Suburban Man cannot get enough of it.
It's like the inside of the garage or a drywall stack at Home Depot; it calls to him in a frequency I cannot hear. What's worse, I can't just override it with a better offer. I am forced to haggle.
Mr. Kamikaze looks up from the television and coolly appraises my wares.
"What are you looking to get for it?" he says.
"It's all in working order," I say. "I don't see another one like it around here."
"Let me call a buddy of mine who knows about these things," he says.
"That will cost you extra," I say. "I'm looking to make a deal right now."
I've got his attention, but he knows better than to give me what I'm asking.
"Look, it's cool and all," he parries, "but I don't really have room for it in my shop."
"Maybe I'll shop it around a little," I say. "Or maybe I'll just go shopping. I could use some new underwear." Apparently.
We close the deal, eventually. But he drives a hard bargain.
from the Secret Life of the Suburban Man Archives: Do-It-Yourself Television
The man and his wife had never liked the Russian olive tree in the front yard. They were the wrong kind of olives, possibly.
They make a call, and men in trucks with ladders come out and take the tree away. Branch by branch, the olive tree disappears, until at last there is nothing left but the part that anchors it to its place in the earth just outside the nation's capital.
The man looks at what is left and begins to think about his tools. Why not send the men in trucks away and unearth the stump himself?
Perhaps some subtle spiritual imperative drives him. Hasn't he also put his roots down in this place? He could honor the tree with his labor. But it is more likely he simply turns his hands over and contemplates the buttery soft skin of his palms. How hard can it be?
Like any self-respecting, suburban, land-owning, family man and card-carrying member of the national press corps, he has a hatchet, a shovel and a pick mattock. Also a lot of pens. Which are utterly useless against a Russian olive tree, as it turns out.
But let me tell you, this would be a whole different story without the pick-mattock. Depending on whatever that is.
The point is, every so often a man has got to wield the pick-a-matic. This was one of those times.
He is nine, maybe ten shovelfuls into the earth when it occurs to him that he might not make it. He pushes the sweat back from his face with the now slightly less buttery palms of his hands and wrestles with his doubt. All of his training, his preparation, the venti mocha regimen, would it be enough? But he knows there is no turning back. The realization hits him with the force of three strategically placed sticks of dynamite. "You can't just shovel the dirt back over the stump," he says.
On the second day he discovers he can stand on the stump and make it wiggle. "You think you're getting close," he says, recalling the brief moment of hope and fancy footwork.
But the stump has other plans. It will hold out for another day. The man grows tired. His muscles ache, his once buttery-soft hands are blistered. But it is the loneliness that nearly defeats him. His wife does not come out to admire him. Nor do any of the neighbors. It is just him against the goddamn stump, which he is now convinced is held in place by a root system whose tentacles reach into the highest levels of the United States government.
With the persistence of a thing powered by gasoline and designed to grind down all resistance, he applies shovel, hatchet, pick-a-majig and wiggling to the task. He does not talk to the stump, but cannot escape his awareness of what goes unsaid. The danger of literary metaphor hovers over him like a chain saw. On the third day, the stump comes out. Also, a neighbor, who stops by to narrate the process by which something called a "stump grinder" would have done the job in roughly three days less time. The man's wife also struggles to appreciate the effort, or as she calls it, "what could have been done with a machine in two hours."
This does not diminish the suburban man's satisfaction in the least. "You do a job, you're very pleased, you fill in the hole," he says. "There's no monument, no testament to the hard work."
Except, as his wife points out, there is the stump itself, which even now sits in the man's garage.
Further adventures from the suburban man archives: Suburban man labors under belief that renovations can outpace family's destructive capabilities, Secret life of the suburban man, part 1: Home improvement television
A crusty old New England contractor is getting ready to install a sliding glass panel for the hapless suburban couple whose ancient basement door is falling apart.
It is the kind of drama for which the big screen television was invented.It's a repeat. Maybe not this exact episode, because who can tell them apart? But it is safe to say that This Old House master contractor Tom Silva has shown his television audience how to put in a door a time or two before. Not to mention that among his viewers, door framing procedures do not rank among life's mysteries. Mr. Kamikaze could do it during the commercial break.
And yet, here he is, sealed to his easy chair as firmly as if he had been applied with a nice thick bead of caulk. He follows each step with the focus of a man who has spent his whole life contemplating the merits of the solid vinyl door jamb.
As the beneficiary of so much home improvement, I make an effort to
mock share his appreciation. I pretend to watch. I ask questions. Why the hell are you watching this? Do you want me to tell you how it ends? Doesn't anybody ever get naked on this show?
And by long and careful observation, includng countless screenings of the classic Toilet Replacement Cliffhanger episodes, I have learned to identify the moments of hidden drama in the renovation script. Is that a load-bearing wall? Can that foundation be shored up or will the entire house have to be lifted up on jacks - a contingency PBS will parcel out over six episodes?
And therein lies the secret, which, if you are willing to show sufficient interest in the range of options for door hardware, the suburban man will share with you:
"Sometimes they find things they didn't expect," he says. "Decisions have to be made."
Esquire, April 2010: It is late afternoon at a Hampton Inn in a nameless suburb and the charmless philanderer is going through the purse of the unfamiliar woman awaiting him on the bed.
The woman on the bed is not his wife and not a coworker. She is not too young and not schizophrenic because those are the rules.
He is going through her purse looking for the partially-unwrapped Hershey's kiss which he will offer to her on a dirty room-service plate "like an altar boy."
This is meant to establish his cred as a sensitive lover in contrast with her husband, who has allegedly been withholding sex as a weight loss incentive. Which makes the husband kind of a dick, but is still less creepy than going through her purse. Let alone the whole "altar boy" thing. WTF Esquire?
Also by way of comparison: The philanderer treats women as "planetary objects" whereas other men have no idea what that even means.
He shares these and other details of his inexplicable mating success in an anonymous 1800-word apologia: Why Men Cheat: An Explanation. The explanation part takes up four words.
The rest is romance, assuming that your idea of a good time includes being slammed against the soda machine in a discount hotel chain stairwell by a guy who has just compared you to an asteroid, or possibly a meteor. Because he needs to.
"Once upon a time, men wore the pants. Men took charge because that's what they did." --Levi Strauss & Co. "Wear the Pants" campaign.
This is no time for cappuccino: Cities are crumbling, children are misbehaving and old ladies remain on one side of the street.
Because metaphors are for pussies. And Calvin Klein is not going to untie you from the railroad tracks.
We're talking about Levi Strauss & Co., whose new ad campaign for Dockers-brand pants champions the power of disaffected homophobic misogynists to save us from a world gone mad for salad and coffee drinks. If only they had the right pants. In nine new colors.
Levi Strauss global marketing skirt Jennifer Sey tells Brandweek what is at stake: Men, she says, are suffering from declining testosterone levels, a disproportionate share of job losses and confusion about their waxing options.
"This led us to the idea of an ad campaign encouraging men to put women, homosexuals and anyone else who stood in the way of pure, unadulterated patriarchy back in their place. Also, khakis with gun belts."
Photo: Confused about his pants options.
Clear skies and temperatures in the almost 30s had the men of the suburbs taking to their ladders over the weekend for the final stretch of what is being called one of the most competitive Midwestern holiday decoration seasons ever.
Amid the trash talking and the painstaking bulb by bulb application, one question remained unresolved: Would Louis get credit for a holiday display that as far as anyone could see, did not involve any ladders whatsoever?
Algebra Bob turns fifty today Or maybe last week I can’t really say But even as the years go by His charms, they seem to multiply. His assets only grow more prime Despite the passing of the time. Nothing subtracted that we can tell His properties still distribute well. On a scale of one to 10 He is a thirteen among men Rounding up or rounding down His equivalent cannot be found Whole numbers of us all agree There is no Bob equivalency. Though we are not allowed to say it There is no doubt it’s true He is worth his weight in husbands - and in some, his weight times two. As a mathematician he’s first class His figures they are stunning (His angles complement his ass It must be all that running...) And so to sum up I will say There is not room enough to pay His tributes fully or reveal Even a fraction of what we feel Our love for him is too acute To be reduced to a square root. We leave you with this small finale: Give our regards to your Aunt Sally. © 2007 P.M. Dunnigan/Suburban Kamikaze
Algebra Bob turns fifty today
Or maybe last week
I can’t really say
But even as the years go by
His charms, they seem to multiply.
His assets only grow more prime
Despite the passing of the time.
Nothing subtracted that we can tell
His properties still distribute well.
On a scale of one to 10
He is a thirteen among men
Rounding up or rounding down
His equivalent cannot be found
Whole numbers of us all agree
There is no Bob equivalency.
Though we are not allowed to say it
There is no doubt it’s true
He is worth his weight in husbands
- and in some, his weight times two.
As a mathematician he’s first class
His figures they are stunning
(His angles complement his ass
It must be all that running...)
And so to sum up I will say
There is not room enough to pay
His tributes fully or reveal
Even a fraction of what we feel
Our love for him is too acute
To be reduced to a square root.
We leave you with this small finale:
Give our regards to your Aunt Sally.
© 2007 P.M. Dunnigan/Suburban Kamikaze
A word or two about Pole Dancing Parties, the latest suburban party/exercise/sex craze: Um, no.
I’m not judging the taste of the New Jersey mommies pumping up demand for what the New York Times has dubbed a "racier version" of the Tupperware party. (I always thought that was the "Rubbermaid" claim to fame, but whatever.)
My point is, if you really enjoy it, fine. If you can figure out a way to work a pole dance routine into your exercise program, great.
I am happy to endorse any social/marketing scheme that replaces plastic storage containers as the center of the suburban mommy's social life.
But if you are buying into the idea that installing a $450 spring-loaded, adjustable stripper’s pole in the living room is going to improve your sex life, I am going to save you a lot of money.
Because this is like baiting a mousetrap with artisanal cheese.
After more than a dozen years of marriage and somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 or 400 liquor-fueled playgroup discussions on this topic, I think I can safely say that I am something of an expert on the Top Five or Six Hundred Turn-Ons of the Suburban Man.
Like so many women, I once put a lot of time and money into my collection of sequin-trimmed bra and thong sets.
Then I realized I was married to a guy who got turned on when I asked him to check my hair for nits during an epidemic of lice at the local elementary school.
So, as a public service, I am going to share with you My Five Proven Methods of Seduction that Do Not Require a $450 Spring-loaded Adjustable Stripper’s Pole:
The Suburban Kamikaze's Top Five No-Pole Required Seduction Methods:
Two X chromosomes
Method #1: Laundry Folding. For reasons that I do not fully understand, the sight of an adult woman folding underwear - or bath towels – fills the mind of a suburban man with impure thoughts faster than you can say Martha Stewart Everyday 5-Star Egyptian Cotton.
Method #2: Midwestern Winter Striptease. Simply remove one layer of clothing before going to bed. Fold back several layers of flannel sheets and bedding to just below your earlobes.
Method #3: Dirty Talk. This is so much easier than you think. Throw away your copy of "How to Make Oratory Like a Porn Star." You have all the vocabulary you need already: nouns, verbs, gerunds, dangling participles. They all work, due to a little known region of your husband’s brain that converts ordinary parts of speech into sexual triggers. You say "peanut butter and jelly sandwich" – he hears "lubricant" and "thighs."
Method #4: The Deadline. Nothing accelerates his libido like the six-month project you were supposed to have turned in yesterday. He will not be able to keep his hands off you.
Method #5: The Three-Way. Want to guarantee that he will be in the mood for totally over-the-top, monkey-howling, headboard slamming, passion of the sheets? Make sure somebody is sleeping in your guestroom, preferably your mother. Works every time.
Photo: You see folded towels; he sees you in a compromising position.
© 2007 P.M. Dunnigan/Suburban Kamikaze