Spit-shined and ready to grow up with wife’s advice
Burt's Eye View
I am my wife’s oldest son.
I don’t know when the transformation happens but it’s an affliction most husbands suffer. One moment, our wives chat about how they fell in love with our boyish charms. The next, they’re spit-washing cereal off our cheeks and ordering us to tuck in our shirts.
I managed on my own for years as a single guy without once burning down the house, catching botulism from raw cookie dough or poking anyone’s eye out.
Since I’ve acquired a spousal adviser, I’m not trusted to avoid any of those dangers. It’s like being married to an instruction manual:
“When you use that much toothpaste, it makes you slop Crest drool all over the sink.”
“Don’t yank the charger plug out of the phone like that. It ruins the connectors.”
“That’s not really what you wanted to order for dinner, is it?” It was, but now I’m having a salad.
Was I this helpless all along and didn’t realize it, or does marriage turn grown men into little boys?
It’s hard to say. I only know that I’m not allowed to leave the house without passing inspection:
“You can’t wear that shirt. It’s wrinkled.” (So?)
“That tie doesn’t match.” (Fine. I didn’t want to wear one anyway.)
“You’ve worn those pants three days in row.” (Your point is?)
I never pouted or stomped my foot as a single man. Now that I’m a married little boy, birds build nests on my lower lip because it’s poked out so often.
Worse, the fixes are starting to take. I’m parroting lessons learned.
The other day, I told my buddy Ralph, “Did you know that rifling through your T-shirt drawer jumbles everything up so that nothing fits and the drawer won’t close? How embarrassed would you be if company came over and saw that?”
Ralph snarled, “Any company nosy enough to inspect my underwear drawer ought to stay home before I throw them out.”
Ralph isn’t married. He still knows how to do things without advice.
Once, I found myself on a platform to introduce the day’s featured speaker. When he stepped to the podium, I noticed that one of his pant legs was tucked into the back of his sock.
I tried to ignore it. My eye ticked. A tendon twitched. Years of spousal correction kicked in.
I slid out of my seat. Crawled up behind him. Tugged his pant leg free.
The speaker yelped. “What are you DOING?”
“Your pant leg, it was stuck,” I said. I fought the urge to straighten his tie. “I didn’t want you to be embarrassed.”
“What are you, my wife?” he roared.
From beyond the footlights, a voice snapped. “He isn’t, but I am. What have I told you about checking your pant legs, Henry? Well?”
“Marge,” he stammered. “Not in front of everybody.”
She stomped onto the stage, fixed his tie and flattened his collar. “Enunciate clearly this time. Remember what I told you about talking too fast.” She spit on a tissue and scrubbed a spot on his cheek. “There. Now you’re ready to speak.”
Henry couldn’t. He’d been reduced to a little boy. It’s hard to talk while you’re sucking your thumb.
Wipe Cole’s cheek at firstname.lastname@example.org, on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter. He’ll be in the corner with his Play-Doh.