Thursday, October 20, 2011

oh! wad some power the giftie gie us to see oursel's as ithers see us

I went out for drinks the other night with Michele, my longest-term friend in San Francisco. We've known each other since the mid-eighties, when we were both hot young punkish things. As we made our way through a number of drinks down at the Rite Spot, the poet Burns' wish to learn how others perceive us came true for me, with the added bonus of seeing how others perceive my chosen mate, the Sober Husband.

Part I.
Michele and I were holding forth in fine fettle, and a man drinking near us remarked to me, with great emphasis, "I like you. You say what people think but are too polite to say."

I was rather nonplussed at that. I always think of myself as polite. But Michele roared. "That's Carole! She's always so brash!"

Part II. Whenever I get intoxicated and get into a long, drawn-out conversation with a hitherto-unknown man, I always talk about the Sober Husband a lot. It's a reflex. It's largely not needed (it's not as if people hit upon me nowadays with the frequency they did a decade ago), but it's a habit I can't get out of.

Somehow this reflex of mine led to Michele describing the Sober Husband to our new found drinking companion. "He's very generous, makes a lot of money, is socially awkward, and has good hair," she said.

"Good hair?" asked our new friend. "French hair or Italian hair?"

"Jewish hair!"

"But in a Jewfro?" Our friend made a face of disgust.

"No, he cuts it really short."

I was silent during this lively exchange about my life companion's hair, due to a bit of shock over "socially awkward." Is that really one of the first things that comes to mind when one thinks about my husband? I usually start with "tall" or "brilliant."

I couldn't deny that there was some truth to it, though. The Sober Husband himself is quick to admit that he often misses the social nuances in any setting. Sometimes that's handy, as often he completely doesn't notice that someone is hitting on him. For example, at a recent dinner party, a single mother was coming onto him strong, having dismissed me entirely as a featherweight loser based upon my stay-at-home-mother status. I however came roaring back, arguing her into submission in a strong debate about the subject she devotes her life and career to, ending with her trying to save face, murmuring "I should talk to you about this more some other time" while the Sober Husband himself, the subject of this little cerebral pissing match, wandered off obliviously into another room. In the car on the way home I explained the nuances to him: "It was like when guys are trying to see who has the biggest dick, but it was women trying to see who has the biggest brain. I have the biggest brain! I have the biggest brain!"

But yet sometimes the man has James Bond-like savoir faire. I will never forget the time when we stumbled into a very nice restaurant on a cold, rainy night, to be confronted with other cold, wet, hungry couples waiting crankily by the maitre d's station. The Sober Husband, with amazing presence, made his way to the maitre d and understatedly said, "My wife and I would like a table," shaking the maitre d's hand in a manly way. To my surprise, within two minutes the maitre d said, "I've found your reservation" and whisked us off to a very good table, leaving behind all the cold, wet people who'd been there for God knows how long. Laughing, my loved one admitted that he'd secretly passed a folded up twenty to the maitre d' when they shook hands.

I've seen that trick play out on other occasions, the suave passing of the hidden twenty, and it never fails to achieve its goal. "Did they teach that to you, growing up in Chicago?" I've asked. It always leaves me weak at the knees.

And then again he has flashes of brilliance in the field of romance. There was the time he wanted to get me a $1,000 gift certificate at my favorite clothing store, but he instead got it for $1,072.50 to account for sales tax. (Everyone who worked at that store wanted to see who the femme fatale was who had inspired a man to get the single biggest gift certificate ever known there, and every one of them looked at me with disbelief when she found out who it was. I suppose they were expecting Angelina Jolie). And again there was the recent time when I was angry and sulking in the shower, and he climbed into the shower, fully dressed, to embrace me. No other suitor has ever equalled these moments of romantic excellence.

So is the man "socially awkward"? I suppose so, but with areas of surprising genius. And am I rude? Perhaps so, perhaps so.


GodsKid said...

I agree with you! The gift certificate -- and most especially the shower scene -- are brilliant! I should be so lucky to find a guy like that. :D

krista said...

i've been reading here for a couple of years now and i have to say this is my favorite post to date.

Dread Pirate Davi said...

Sounds like a keeper. ;)