My wife needs periodic breaks from me. I'll not list out my ample supply of imperfections here, but suffice to say that I can drive her up the wall at times.
Fortunately, at the exact intervals of my maximum crankiness, certain "escape-enabling" products or services hit that market that allow her to flee my lack of glee without having to leave the house. Of course, for men this is easy - that's why tv and sports was invented. Instant zombie - just add a can of lager for complete retreat.
For my wife, these products have been much more varied but have supplied the same sort of mind-numbing, insular, special alone time that the mind and body craves. Allow me to go back in history for some recent examples:
Oprah's Book Club
This has been the most consistent and most predictable source of distraction. Lady-focused novels of tragedy, pain, suffering, betrayal, deliverance, redemption, rebirth and harmony - usually in that order. The most common times of escape for her were from bedtime (which, for an early riser like me, is directly after dinner) until about dawn. She even took the courtesy of buying a flashlight so that the bedroom lights could be turned off, allowing for my solid slumber, and she could go under the covers and stealthily consume the written word. When the flashlight batteries died, she had one of those little mini-lamps which attach to the book. When the kids wrecked that thing she used a headlamp, but after waking up with semi-permanent red friction bands on her forehead, she went back to the flashlight. I supported her therapy and bought a pallet of batteries from Costco.
When she caught on to Facebook, I didn't see my wife's face for five days. Actually, I did see her face, but just a glowing profile as I gazed upon her glued to the computer monitor, updating her status, adding photos and seeing how fat and bald her old high school love interests had become (YES!!!). This infatuation lasted about a week, then she realized she wasn't really that interested in what had become of old schoolmates and certainly didn't need to be kept updated on the personal airing of dirty laundry by friends and family.
Twilight shot onto the scene so fast I could almost feel it whizzing by. Reminescent of Oprah's book club, I found my wife back to her late night, under the cover antics, and I don't mean the "wifely duty" under the cover antics that husbands are so fond of. Yes, the flashlight, head lamp and book light were back and, worse, she even read the books during the daytime, ignoring her husband, which I was used to, but also completely abandoning her children. If it weren't for tinned lunches, such as Lunchables, KD, soup and Beefaroni, the children may not have survived. At one point I caught one of them rummaging though the outside composter looking for a freshish fruit snack. Fortunately, by this time my wife was firmly "Team Edward" and near to the end of this tragic, vampire series. I felt compelled to browse a couple of the books, really just to see what all the fuss was about, but I found the writing to be terrible and the story lame. I urged her to explore the vastly superior Anne Rice series of vampire novels, but I guess there wasn't enough heartfelt teenage love in those ones. I'm proud to say that I'm "Team Lestat" all the way, the Twilight heartthrobs are just a bunch of fleekers.
Neither of us have ever been much for texting, but when Ana got a Blackberry and learned how BlackBerry Messenger works (BBM), she had her face in the mobile device for days. It's amazing how quickly she learned that pretty much every household task can be done with one hand, reserving the other hand, of course, for the Blackberry. I saw her perfect the single handed egg crack, wedge toast against the counter to stabilize it for one handed buttering and wash dishes single-handedly with surprising few food bits left stuck to the plates. I will admit that I too have a fondness for BBM, though I usually restrict my messenging to toilet time, with regular proliferation of messenges generated between 9 and 10am Monday mornings.
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Now this, at least, was a quality product she used to ignore me. The story is intriguing, characters interesting and it's Swedish! Half my heritage is Swedish so I can't help but be a big supporter, even if it means a life of single parenthood for a few weeks. Towards the end of this exhile we at least spent some quality time together watching the original Swedish movie adaptations of the books, which were absolutely terrific. One evening we even held hands while watching, but I soon fell asleep which ruined my changes of any deeper bonding. Maybe that's one of the reasons I drive her crazy..
Now I recently got an iPad for work and of course it wasn't long before somebody mentioned Angry Birds. In fact, it was an airline pilot friend who boasted he finished 13 three star levels while flying two hundred passengers from Cancun to Toronto. Thank god for autopilots and locked cabin doors. When she started with the Angry Birds I didn't think it would last because there are few things she detests more than video games. But I was wrong. What she detests more than idiotic video games is when people bother her as she is playing idiotic video games. The one nice thing is that this round of fanaticism didn't cost me a hundred bucks in flashlight batteries - since the iPad is rechargable and gives off plenty of light, she could hide under the covers for hours mastering the launching of the Angry Birds with perfect lighting that didn't cost me a dime. It took her three weeks to beat every level. I was so happy to see her again.
Yesterday, we went to a symposium on social media marketing and, in particular, the use of Twitter. It's been about 12 hours since she set up an account and installed the BlackBerry app. So far no eye contact and no coherent speech. I'm taking the opportunity to do a blog posting which will, in turn, give her something to Tweet about. I'm such a supportive husband.