Being a Husband

pirate shelly, my wife

When my wife does annoying things

When my wife does annoying things I think about one moment early in our dating relationship:

“Hey Shelly, do you want to play a game?” I asked as I drove.
“Sure.” She replied.
“First you have to think about something that I do ALL THE TIME,” Pause. “Got it?”
“Okay, I got something.” She giggles.
“What is it?”
“How you bounce your eyebrows.” She says with her usual captivating smile.
“Okay.  Now think about something that I don’t do.”
“Got it.  Put your pinky finger on the corner of your mouth and stick your bottom lip out, like Dr. Evil does in Austin Powers.”
“Like this?” I made the face.
“Yes.  Like that.”
“So here’s the game.  For one week, instead of bouncing my eyebrows I’m going to make the Dr. Evil face, and you have to do something else.”
Shelly bursts out laughing, “What?! Hahaha, okay.”
I thought of how she bursts out in laughter as a natural response to things and said, “You know how you always laugh when someone says something?”
“Uh, huh…”
“Well, now you have to bounce your eyebrows.” I said slyly as I squint my eyes and bounce my eyebrows at her.  “And we can’t tell anyone why we do it until the end of the week.”
“Okay.” She giggled.  We did a couple of practice runs during the car ride and then the game was afoot.

We played the game for the next seven days and I noticed that my dance team, who I spend at least 3 hours – 6 days a week with, who had caught on to my eyebrow bouncing from before, all started making the Dr. Evil face after the first couple of days.  Shelly and I saw each other several times during that week and giggled and smiled when we would catch each other “playing the game”.

Two years later after we were married and started living together, there were clothes on the floor, empty ice trays, clutter piled up on the work desk, and other everyday annoying things that she or I did.  I was either annoyed at what she was doing or annoyed that she called me out for what I was doing.  These things simmered in my mind while driving to work one day, and as I look to the far side view mirror, I glanced at the empty passenger seat where my wife sat when we started that game not that long ago.  The pressure left my mind as the cloud of complaints went away and a smile crept on my face.  I was laughing at myself more than anything because at that moment, I KNEW that I could change something so ingrained in me for her.  I knew I could change something like my eyebrow bouncing, my disregard for putting dirty clothes away, my habits… …my pride, for the woman I love.  I reminisced at the seven days spent denying my instinctive behaviors for a request made by a beautiful girl, who was now the woman I had made my wife.

ME and Shelly

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I Miss Shelly

Shelly as Jessie

One week with the shingles and I’ve still been getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night.  I am supposed to be relieving stress, resting and recovering.  But I find myself with so much energy when I place my head on my pillow at night, or when I wake up to pee at 4 or 5 in the morning; at least I know I’m well hydrated.  I needed to do some kind of exercise to burn off my excess energy.  I went from a fast daddy lifestyle trying to do all the daily grind while trying to get fit and chasing my dream, to becoming a couch bum.

I am not supposed to expose my shingles to the sun, so Alan and I took a walk to get some exercise just when the sun had hidden low enough in the sky.  I expected to be bed/couch ridden through my whole quarantine so I didn’t bring any exercise clothes.  I just wore some surf shorts that I packed in case it got warm.  We ran through South Pasadena, which is partly wooded; I considered myself running, Alan looked like he was jogging.  The jog actually reminded me of where we used to live in Beverly Hills just after Trystan was born.  We were house sitting for Shelly’s boss while she was overseas shooting The Life of Pi.  The house was a beautiful rustic cottage in the middle of Beverly Glen Blvd surrounded by foliage.  This area of South Pasadena is kind of like that, except less expensive and less of a canyon road.  There were a lot of old houses and a jogging trail that went by the golf course, under the highway and through some greenery.

It wasn’t even a mile before my lungs started hurting, and I remembered how my nurse friend, Jenn had mentioned I could have lesions in my lungs and since it was a wet environment, I wouldn’t be able to feel them.  Stride, stride, inhale, stride, stride exhale… my lungs were opening up and filling with air, and I don’t know what that pain is but I have to take this exercise a notch down.  I’ve been athletic my whole life, from extra curricular activities in high school, to crew (rowing) in college, to competitive dancing which did into my 30’s when my body started complaining.  I saw dancing as fun, and never saw it as a sport until I got injured and I showed my physical therapist what I was doing.  She said I was pounding my body more than some of the athletes that she was maintaining, but by then I didn’t see myself as an athlete so I never stretched or warmed up.  We just hit the dance floor full bore.  So here I am now, almost 38 with plantar fasciitis, tight muscles, shingles and burning lungs trying to keep up with Alan who is older, heavier and healthier than me.

Our 2 mile jog turned into a 4 mile walk.  My mind was full trying to think of something spiritual or inspiring to blog for a Sunday.  Alan and I walked up the steps to his second story apartment.  “That was a pretty good walk,” said Alan, “almost four miles.”

“Nice! So let’s eat dinner then, I’ll show you how to use Microsoft Project.” I got in the shower and started the water, “It’s really easy to use because you input information the way that you would…” I realized that I was alone in the bathroom talking to myself.  That may sound weird to any normal person, sure, and that was the moment that I realized how beautiful my normal was.  I realized that on a normal late workday, Shelly would get home from work just when I am finishing my normal day and we would spend our last hours of the day getting ready for bed together.  I’d finish cooking dinner when she’d get home and then we’d eat together.  Normally I’d eat with the kids beforehand and just sit with her and chat.  We’d talk about our day and about everything else while washing dishes, wiping the table down, gathering bedclothes, using the toilet, brushing our teeth, and yes, taking a shower.  At that moment I missed Shelly. At this moment, I miss her even more.

I have been making the most out of my time away from Shelly: working on my prioritization skills, and doing some behavioral modification so that when we’re together she will get a better man than when I left.

***

It had been a week since Andy left Woody at the toy shop for the old man to fix his torn arm.  “Andy’s getting in the car to pick up Woody!!!” Buzz yelled from the window sill.  All the other toys cheered, “Woody’s coming back!!!  Woody’s coming back.”  They waited patiently.  They had all missed Woody so much since he had been away on the mend.  But as much as they missed him, little did they know that he missed them one hundred times more and can’t wait to go back home.

Happy Daddy