Archive for May, 2012

Recent studies show it is men who benefit from marriage, increasing length of life and overall happiness, while marriage limits a woman’s personal potential. Alliance with the male leverages her power, extrapolating her man’s and appropriating it as vaguely her own; at firm ground, she understands that arrangement for the fraud that it is. Cultural mores worldwide legitimize this delusion, so there is little pressure for a woman to acknowledge the insight even if she should stumble over it in a moment of unguarded clarity.

In a past amicable but passionless marriage, my husband and I often agreed, “What we need is a wife!” As the distaff in that partnership, I resented always being the one to dispense caring. Why was I denied the blessings of eternal childhood while my Peter Pan husband got to fly about sprinkling pixie-dust? Everyone knows that creativity requires the freedom of play, but somebody’s got to wash the dishes. We’ll leave them for the maid, I fantasized, as we turned out the light and headed for bed and some productive cuddling.

I love my kitchen, incarnation of the maternal, hub of family life, source of warmth and tantalizing odors. It is the negation of its power that I reject. A man who enters my center of female alchemy faces a challenge. Do his limbs get all gooey as he dramatizes his affected ineptitude, or does he grab a gingham apron, detailed with rick-rack and ruffles, strap it on, and start looking for a recipe for corn chowder? It takes a big man to be alive in the kitchen. Nothing is sexier than a man in an apron. His limbs get hairier. His torso takes on a more studly aspect. His confidence radiates as he personifies phallic imperative.

Now the question arises: Is this about the bull loose in the china shop or about my own perceptions of manliness? This is a serious question deserving a serious response. I don’t do serious well. It’s difficult to write in a grim sterility that dismisses all vestiges of self from the product. I have spent a lifetime trying and always fail. Even the most rigidly technical effort succumbs to a pirouette of whimsy, and it’s all over. When you write poetry, write poetry; when you write prose, for Heaven’s sake write prose. I know that. I just find it hard to live up to the admonition. Some things are harder than others. (Pun intended.) Sometimes it seems I am a walking, talking, embodiment of the Freudian slip. Sigmund, his dirty old man fixation inclusive, had it right.  The ladies have it figured: Manhood is wonderful. Gay or Straight, Guys are great! Can’t live with ‘em; can’t live without ‘em.

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