G has never had an affinity for language. His mother would tell you he was a very quiet child. His teachers would tell you they marked him perpetually absent in class since he never spoke up during attendance. My mother would tell you he’s the strong, silent type. I would tell you he’s the obstinate mute type. He’s like Charlie Chaplan without the cane and the creepy mustache, although sometimes he shaves his scruff into bizarre facial hair sculptures. Because the videographer at our wedding asked that it not be a silent film, G was forced to speak in front of a congregation of people (who had all heard him utter at least three words). I made the experience all the more painful by insisting we devise and deliver our own unique vows. Though no one could hear his because he vehemently refused a microphone clipped to his jacket, I giggled when he said, “I’m not good at expressing myself, but it gives me comfort to know I’ll have the rest of my life to try to tell you how I love you.” It’s been six years since that ceremony and he has yet to master that he needn’t begin phone conversations with, “Hi Erin, it’s G.” Communication is a golden ring we have not nabbed.
I fully expected to deliver his vows for him since I often feel like the puppeteer with my husband marionette. He is the worst sidekick to have in an awkward social situation because his fight or flight response manifests itself in complete silence – like a monk seated serenely atop a cliff or a comatose mental patient who has bitten off their own tongue – while mine presents as the court jester or the ring leader of the circus. I start telling unfunny jokes and asking inappropriate questions about everyone’s past. While I prattle, and juggle, and do some high kicks while balancing a fucking ball on my nose, he consumes his food silently with sidelong glances at the football scores spooling across the TV screen. When the evening is finally over, and I’m left mentally reviewing and cringing at every stupid thing I said like George Bush after a State of the Union, G will usually do something obnoxious like pantomime pushing a button on my forehead. “What was that?” I ask, confused. “Your off button. You can stop now,” he says with a grin.
So I’ve grown accustomed to having my ‘on’ button engaged while my strong and silent mate is on standby, his facial screen saver activated by an impassive stare. Then there are the days the quiet is broken, the pond surface rippled, by a statement more unwelcome than the Palins at a White House dinner. We’ve had a few of these scenarios arise recently, all statements I’d rather have not heard, but the verbal missile was in the water before I could stop it. And considering my ears and brain are pregnant (each one of our body parts individually suffers pregnancy, in my opinion), they don’t take kindly to man-speak. The first happened when I was ruminating aloud whether a fourth child is something I still, on any level, desire. G and I had planned on a large family, but three in three years has left me feeling more used and abused than OctoMom. At least that bitch got a litter in one blow and she didn’t have to carry to term.
I feel some pressure to commit to the idea of a fourth child soon so that we don’t wind up having an infant after the other three can smoke, drive, and vote. I was pondering this concept when G interjected, “I think you’d better hold off. You seem to be on a girl-making roll at the moment.” Hello, Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China. Rather than get into a debate about devaluing girl fetuses, I squinted at the menu and said, “Mmmm, frittatas! I bet a woman invented those. And cooked them. And will bring them to us.”
His track record continued last weekend as we drove the family to Boston for a weekend getaway. D has developed a game in which he drops every toy and snack on the floor and then screams, like a feral child, for me to retrieve it. The problem is that my swelling stomach only allows me to move like Marlon Brando: The Obese Years. At one point I got so frustrated that tears sprung from my eyes and I said despondently to G, “I can hardly move. For three years, I have hardly moved.” G reached across the middle consul, took my hand, and said:
“You’re like Easy Blacky.”
For a moment I hoped Easy Blacky might be a nickname for Elizabeth Taylor.
“Easy Blacky was this barn cat my family had. She was always knocked up and laying around on the floor, waiting to give birth.”
He’s lucky I wasn’t driving.
(Tell me when he puts his foot in his mouth…I need to know I’m not alone here. Thanks, Easy Blacky.)