Feb
08
2013

My husband, the philanderer

“You’re kind of like a philanderer.” I said, musingly, to my husband. We were driving up Route 95 to a friend’s party, and had been discussing what constitutes “Art.”

“What?!!” he exclaimed, gripping the steering wheel, and checking traffic in the rearview mirror.

It occurred to me that Route 95 was probably not the best place to have this discussion.

“With jobs….” I added quickly. “And hobbies.”

“Umm…come again?” He commented tentatively moving back into the travel lane.

“The thing is,” I continued “Some people are addicted to romance…to the newness of a relationship…to that period when they are learning everything about each other…You’re like that with hobbies.”

“What are you talking about?!” he asked, blinking and shaking his head.

“You know…” I continued accusingly. “Your youngest sister is an education junkie. First she spent 15 years passing 10 tests to become an actuary, and now, that she never has to crack a book for the rest of her life, she’s working on getting her MBA. The woman needs help.”

“OK…” he replied carefully.

“You’re like that too. Like your sister. You’re addicted to the learning curve.”

“I’m addicted to what kind of curve?” he asked, making hand motions.

“I’m talking about Pottery!” I exclaimed.

“Oh…” He replied, relieved, but still looking worried. 

“They say that the learning curve starts out really shallow. It takes a long time, and you feel like you are going nowhere and never going to figure things out.”

“OK.” He answered, slowing down to stop at a toll booth.

“Then, suddenly you begin to get it. The curve turns sharply upward. Every day you get better and better, until eventually, it begins to level off again. Then your progress slows, and gains achieved are incremental at best, nonexistence at worst.”

“Look, if this is about the kitchen table, I am going to get that pottery off it.” He said defensively, throwing coins into the toll basket.

“That’s where you are like a philanderer.” I continued on blithely, ignoring his attempts to change the conversation. “With every job, with every hobby, you have to stay in that steep part of the learning curve, or you’re just not happy. And, just when you are getting really good at whatever you are doing, you leave it.”

“Does this mean that I’m in trouble or I’m not in trouble?” he asked trying to pin me down.

“I’m not talking about you.” I answered evasively. “I’m talking about the learning curve.”

“Does this mean I can leave the pottery on the table?” he asked.

“No.” I replied curtly. “What it means is that this too will pass, all this discussion about what “Art” is. I’ve seen it before, and I’ll see it again.”

“You’ll know “Art” when you see it?” he asked.

“I’m not talking about Art! I’m talking about your current obsession with Pottery! I’m assuring myself that this too will pass.”

“No!” he protested. “This time it’s a real passion.”

“I don’t want to hear about it.” I said flatly. “We don’t have enough room in the house for any more of your real passion!”

The real trouble with having a spouse that doesn’t work is that I’m perennially jealous. It’s not about money. It’s about free time, all that free time that he has when he is having fun without me. I don’t care if he is visiting people in the hospital, or volunteering at the church or dealing with my step-father’s estate. While I’m at work, he should be miserable!

“It’s not my fault.” My husband protested.

“What’s not your fault?” I asked suspiciously.

“Whatever you’re mad about…” He answered cautiously.

“It’s always the husband’s fault.” I snapped. “Don’t you understand your role in life?”

“I love you.” He replied. “And I do know what my role is… it’s to keep you from being bored!”

“You’ve used that line before.” I hrump. “And be careful… there’s a curve coming up!”

I know why I am mad. It’s because he is gliding along in the sweet part of the learning curve, and I’m not. What I’m not sure is whose fault it is, or what to do about it.

“Take pottery with me.” He urged.

“I’m too busy.” I snap. “I have articles to write, and there’s all those library books I need to read and I have to take a walk. Maybe later…when I retire…”

“Besides,” I add, rationalizing “by that time you will have mastered it, and you will be on to yet another romance.”

Is it my lack of time, or something more sinister, that I refuse to admit? Like a reluctance to go through that first part of the curve; a conviction that learning new things causing the synapse in my brain to ache. A fear that I’ll look like a total idiot? Or is it just an addiction to sloth, and mystery stories?

“You’re always my first love!” my husband protested.

“Yes darling. You too.” I sigh.

“Phew.” He sighed, and added hopefully. “Does this mean I don’t have to get the pots off the table?”

“No!” I answer, adding. “And get them off the mantel too! I need room for my library books.”

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