I married up, genetically. Whereas I had lost three grandparents by the age of eight, my husband is nearly thirty-nine and still has three. My last-surviving grandparent died when I was thirty-one; his first-to-pass grandparent died when he was thirty-seven.
What’s more, I come from a long line of smooshy, well-hipped, prodigiously-hootered women. Our body type was made to nurse the clan’s babies as we slogged across the Plains of Passage, searching out fire and perhaps the odd wheel rolling past. Slow, steady, full of girth and mirth, we’d have hung in there and done the job, collapsing on each other’s cushiony bodies at the end of the trudge.
In contrast, not a single person in my husband’s family has issues with bodily softness or heft. Their body type would have qualified them to serve as the arrows shot from the first bows, there on the Plains of Passage, when herds of mastodon were spotted. I can picture Groom’s great-great-great-great-googolplexed-great grandfather, lean and sharp and stringy, hopping up with great willingness and notching his head into the leather of the bow. After being fired into the heart of a mighty beast, felling it easily with the knife that was his torso, that same great-great-googolplexer would have leapt sprightly out of the bloody corpse, holding its still-beating heart in his hands, and then braised it for the tribe, spooning a tasty Squaw Currant reduction over top just before service.
What’s more, my husband has run an ultra-marathon (sometimes 26.2 miles just isn’t enough) and has never had a cavity. Me? I once watched a marathon of The Real World on MTV and inserted stuffing into the cavity of a Cornish game hen before snorting the whole bird down sans utensils.
Certainly, I can make a case for myself. I mean, he may be genetically superior, but at least I was canny enough to marry up. Unlike him. Unfortunately, just when I convince myself that there’s justice because he is dumm, and I is smart, he goes and figures out the overarching conceit for the New York Times Sunday crossword while I’m still penciling in the easy three-letter answers of “UMA” and “ELO.”
In fact, it’s best for us not to enter into direct competition, and by that, I mean best for any hope of my continued self-esteem. Case in point: a couple years ago, at Halloween time (BOOOOO!, by the way. Gotcha.), I managed to draw what I considered a pretty impressive skeleton head. Having never taken a studio art course, I gave myself an internal high five–something that is actually very painful and sometimes requires corrective surgery–for my piece.
When I showed then-four-year-old Paco my work, he, too, was impressed. At long last, I’d won my son’s elusive love! We hugged a bit gingerly, still feeling out the boundaries of our new affection, and commenced a search for Scotch tape, so’s we could hang my gruesome picture on the front door and scare the gremlins right out of every trick-or-treater who had the gall to knock and beg for sweets. That’d teach the little ragamuffins to try to take my chocolate.
Two hours later, having given up on ever tracking down the Scotch tape, we settled for the masking variety (retrieved from the produce drawer in the fridge) and hung the thing.
Shortly thereafter, Groom came home and was dragged by an excited Paco to the front door. Properly admiring, my husband showered me with compliments and a gentle cascade of kisses that started at my forehead and ended at my well-evolved bosom. Jumping up and down, Paco demanded, “Dad, now it’s your turn! You get to draw a skeleton, too, and then we’ll have lots of cool decorations!”
Ever game, his Groomishness set to the task and emerged a startlingly-short time later holding his contribution.