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Archive for the ‘Jealous Husband’ Category

The “I hate you!” issue came up at work yesterday.  My co-worker Carlos related this mom-six year old son exchange:

Son:  “I HATE you!”

Mom: “That’s not a very nice thing to say.”

Son:  “I HATE you, PLEASE!”

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Rachel and I have an open marriage.   At the moment, only Rachel is taking advantage of this feature of our relationship.  Yesterday, a vacation day for me, we were home in the late morning and happened to be making out.  Rachel patted my chest in mid-kiss.  “I have to go,” she said.  “I have a hot date with Teddy. 

That’s not really what she said.  She actually said she had to leave for an  appointment with her therapist.  Teddy. 

And we don’t really have an open marriage.  But forget for a moment the “therapist” concept and tell me what this sounds like:  A woman gets together with a man.  They discuss movies they’ve seen, books they like, and deepest feelings. They banter.  They laugh.  Remind you of anything?  That’s right: a DATE.  All that’s missing are a couple glasses of wine and an awkward kiss at the end.  

After one of her sessions, Rachel came home and mentioned something Teddy the therapist had said about his wife.  And children.

“I thought therapists weren’t supposed to talk about their personal life?” I said.

“He’s not a very traditional therapist,” Rachel said.

Just what a husband wants to hear:  That the widely accepted rules that set boundaries in the intimate environment of psychotherapy don’t apply to your wife’s therapist.  As reported by Rachel, much of their conversation seems quite different than the usual and-how-did-that-make-you-feel therapy talk.  Rachel and Teddy talk about child-raising, politics, and whether or not Rachel and I can afford to remodel our home.

That’s right.  Before the bottom fell out of our 401ks, Rachel and I were considering a home remodel that would have cost half again the cost of the house.  Rachel, home from a visit with Teddy, casually mentioned that Teddy said we could totally afford it.  “Really, ” I said, steaming,  “I didn’t know Teddy was a qualified financial advisor.”  Then I completely boiled over.  Teddy,  I said, should stick to childhood traumas and stay the hell out of our home remodeling.

Rachel hasn’t offered Teddy’s advice since.  She does, however, continue to occasionally mention something funny or insightful that Teddy said.   Here’s the thing about therapists:  They are the perfect date.   They listen attentively to everything you say.  It’s all about you.   They are so fascinated by every word that comes out of your mouth that sometimes they take notes  on what you say.   Teddy never leaves a wet towel on the bathroom floor, never snores.  He never makes an irritable remark. Ever.  What husband can compete with that?

I’m suspicious of him.  I know how wonderful my wife is.  Obviously, he secretly desires her.  “He’s hot for you,” I say to Rachel one day while we’re out for a walk. 

Rachel laughs.  “He is not,” she says.  “He’s completely professional.”

“Oh, I don’t think he’ll act on it” I say, “but every morning he has an appointment with you scheduled there’s a spring in his step when he walks to the office.  He thinks ‘Ah, Rachel’s coming in today!'”. 

I imitate Teddy the therapist walking with a spring in his step.

Rachel laughs at my walk.  “He doesn’t walk that way,” she says.  He’s chubby.” 

That, I liked hearing.  Chubby.  Like the Pillsbury Doughboy. 

The only thing they don’t talk about is sex.  Rachel’s a very private person, and has no interest in delving into that topic with her therapist.  She told me that according to Teddy, everyone eventually talks about sex in therapy. 

You wish, pervert. 

I know, I know, I’m being ridiculous. Too bad.

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dirtypeter-001For some reason Rachel is telling me about Peter from Switzerland, a teenage crush of hers who worked as a counselor at her YMCA camp. She apparently thinks that because the encounter occurred twenty-two years before our marriage, and she never actually kissed him, it’s not adultery.

“He was older,” Rachel says. She’s mixing Aunt Jemima waffle mix in a bowl on kitchen counter.

I translate “older” to mean sophisticated. European. Perverted.

I am jealous of every man in her life before me. This includes Andy Haberman, the fourteen-year-old who kissed her in the woods after school, and Robert, the urbane wine connoisseur she dated just before me. I find something to ridicule about all of them – Andy’s pitiful eighth-grade moustache, for example, and that the wine  connoisseur insisted on being called “Robert”, instead of “Bob” – but I save special venom for the exotic Europeans, Francois from Paris and Peter from Switzerland,

“He spoke five languages,” Rachel says casually of Peter. She gets the Log Cabin syrup out of the pantry.

I am immediately suspicious. He probably faked multilingualism to take advantage of an impressionable American teenager. “Really?” I say. “How do you know?”

“Well,” Rachel says, “He spoke English at camp, and he ordered in French at a restaurant….”

That’s only two languages, I think to myself, and: What were they doing in a French restaurant?

“….and he’s from a German-speaking province in Switzerland,” Rachel continues. “In Switzerland they have. . .”

“I’m familiar with the Swiss Canton system” I say coolly.

Rachel senses my ire. She pours batter onto the hot waffle iron and tells me that there was nothing between her and Peter from Switzerland.

“I was in tenth grade,” she says, thinking this is reassuring.

“Were you past puberty?” I ask.

It’s meant to be rhetorical question, but she answers, confirming that yes, she was past puberty when she and Peter from Switzerland shared those star-lit nights in front of the YMCA campfire.

She tries to reassure me again. “Half the time I didn’t even know what he was talking about.”

I ask her what she means. She says that Peter from Switzerland confided to her that he was a Christian, and struggled with the conflict between sexual desire and his vow of chastity till marriage.

“Oh,” I say knowingly, “That’s the oldest line in the book – ‘I’m too principled to have sex with you.’ Women eat that one up.”

“No, no,” Rachel says. “He never made a move on me.”

I snort. “That was his move.”

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francoise 001Rachel, sipping coffee in bed, says she’d like to go to Paris. This weekend. “I just want to have one of those baguettes,” she says, “made by a fat French lady.” She lived in Paris for a summer in college, and loved it.

“The French,” I say with disdain. I’m in the closet, searching for a clean shirt.

“Why is it, again, that you hate the French?” Rachel asks.

I tell her it’s because when I was in Paris twenty years ago, on the way home from Spain, I stopped at a cafe near the train station, not realizing it was a tourist trap, had a coffee and a croissant, and the waiter charged me, like, forty bucks.

I pull a blue shirt off the hanger. “That, and the whole collaboration thing with the Nazis.”

“But why,” Rachel asks, “do people hate the French more than, say, the Germans, who actually were Nazis?”

It’s a good point, and I have to think for a moment. I examine the blue shirt for food stains on the front, a frequent problem for me.

“Because,” I say, “The German’s said ‘we’re sooooo sorry’, and built a bunch of Holocaust memorials, but the French just said…” – here I attempt a haughty French accent – “…shut up, you stupid Americans.”

This has always been my complaint about the French – that they rolled over for the Wehrmacht in World War II, and then, after the war, all claimed to have been in the Resistance. I also don’t like it that Rachel sometimes mentions Francois, a boy she met in France who later came to visit her in Michigan.

“Really?” Rachel says. “What about the French man who told me how grateful he was when the American soldiers liberated Paris?” She’d told me this story before, and it was moving. Her parents came to visit in Paris, and the man, with tears in his eyes, told them how emotional it had been to see the twenty-year old American GI’s marching in to rescue his beloved city from the ugliness of German occupation. He spoke no English. His son translated. “He tried to thank my parents,” Rachel says.

I find a grease stain on the pocket of the shirt. I toss it on a chair.

“Not all the French are bad,” I concede. “I like Corporal LeBeau.”

“Who?”

“From Hogan’s Heroes.”

“Honey,” Rachel says. “He’s not real.”

I rummage in the closet for another shirt.

“And honey?” Rachel says. “You don’t have to worry about Francois. He was just a boy.” She reaches for a book on the bedstand. “If you want to worry about somebody, you should worry about Peter, from Switzerland.”

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