My wife and I recently threw a going-away party for a married couple we know and love. It was while setting up for the party that the last bastion of my manhood flew away.
As most married people will agree, men lose increasingly more control within their marriage the longer the couple stays together. I've been married nearly 10 years now, and, oh, how I long for the early days—back when I had something that resembled a say in our relationship, when I was permitted to say things like "I really don't think the picture of Gloria Steinem stabbing Andrew Dice Clay in the groin looks good on that wall, honey" or "If it's OK with you, I'd really rather not have dinner with the Von Snoringborgs this weekend."
Alas, those days of having a say are but porcelain flakes gathering dust at the base of a desiccated snow globe. No longer do I have input into which toilet paper we buy. No longer may I pick a TV show to watch. No longer may I choose my own clothes, for should I even think to wear something she finds disagreeable, there will appear the severed head of a neighborhood feline mounted on my desk the following morning.
And she will certainly drag me to Hell and feed me to Dahmer should I protest where certain household items be stored. For example, the last seven years or so, the fire-pit lighter was always kept in the left drawer of the living-room credenza. But last Friday, I noticed the lighter wasn't there.
"Honey-sugars," I asked, "where is the fire-pit lighter?"
"It's in the hallway cabinet," she replied.
"But it doesn't go in the hallway cabinet."
"It does now."
"But I liked it in the credenza," I whined, attempting to return the lighter to its original location. But as I reached for the handle on the drawer, a massive crevasse opened on the floor, from which came a bright-orange light and the howls of the damned as they twisted in a pit of molten soul-meat. She stared at me contemptuously, the glowering rays of Hell lighting her devil-face from the underside, her blazing eyes boring into me as if to say, "Before you open that drawer, husband, remember that the line of demons waiting to sodomize your every orifice wraps around The Valley of Hinnom a thousand times."
Oh, and get this: Not only do I have no say about where the fire-pit lighter goes; I don't even get to control the fire pit. Oh, sure, I have to build the fire: I'm the one who buys and chops the wood. I'm the one who saves the cardboard and newspapers. I'm the one who makes the delicate starter teepee out of kindling and paper. I'm the one who lights and tends the blaze. But then—after the fire is lively and crackling, and enough guests have arrived to witness the coming emasculation—she will commence the micromanagement of my fire.
"Honey, don't use that log; it's too big!" she said in front of everyone at the going-away party, who were no doubt wondering if this woman had actually cleaved off my testicles or simply bound them up in gauze and wire.
"Yes, dear," I responded, as I looked around the circle. On one side were the women, sitting upright, chests out, proud, confident smiles across their faces: That's our girl. On the other side sat the men, droopy, sullen, empathy swelling in their eyes: We feel your pain, dude.
"Be careful, honey," she added. "It's very hot."
"Well, gee, thanks for letting me know that, Prometheus," I snipped, forgetting momentarily that all it takes is a glimpse from this woman to snap my vertebrae. But the men chuckled at that one, and it was gratifying to share this brief, historic moment of victory with my guys, like the crippled USS Arizona shooting down one last Japanese fighter plane before sinking to the bottom of Pearl Harbor. It was only a matter of seconds before the women darted us The Look and the chuckling abruptly stopped.
But aside from the things I'm no longer permitted to control, there was one thing over which I'd still maintained authority—one thing I'd always thought could not be taken away. And that's my control over the party playlist.
Making the party playlist has always been my job—not just because the woman is about as technologically savvy as Ann Coulter is a soft-spoken moderate, but because I happen to make awesome playlists. Do you know how I know I'm an awesome-playlist maker? Because every person attending the party will, at some point, complain about the music. And the reason that happens is because my playlists are eclectic. I go from rock to funk to rap to punk to jazz to soul to folk to country to jug-hop to Celt-metal to gnu-wave to rap-polka to klezmer-core. I do this because no one genre will please everyone, but everyone will be pleased at some point. Of course, people tend to notice the song they hate, but the song they hate is loved by someone else, which is genius!
So, don't even think about taking the playlist away from me, woman! Because the playlist is my thing, and I draw the line here! Is that underst—.
That's what I was thinking as I sat at my computer, dragging and dropping songs into an iPod playlist titled "Adios Mofos." The wife walked by and saw what I was doing. It was then that the unthinkable happened.
"Don't take this the wrong way, babe," said she, "but we need to talk about your crappy party playlists."
And like the last, lagging flock of pre-winter sparrows crossing the border to Coahuila, the final remnant of my manhood had fluttered away.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Edwin Decker blogs at www.edwindecker.com. Follow him on Twitter @edwindecker or find him on Facebook.
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