I never wanted a wife.
I never wanted to be a wife.
I figured a way around all of that tradition sometime in the ’80s. I suggested to my college roommate that after graduation we get a place and live, you know, like Kate and Allie. It would be a 24/7 slumber party eating raw cookie dough right from the tube and staying up late to watch reruns of The Facts of Life. (I watched way too much TV back then). I would be Allie, played by comedy legend and pioneer Jane Curtain, because of my rapier wit and she could be Kate, played by Susan Saint James, because she had darker hair.
“Yeah, no,” she replied.
I offered for her to be Allie, but she still wasn’t buying into my vision of two women living under the same roof and raising kids.
Yes, she was narrow minded.
And I was deep in the closet, back with the unused ski equipment and broken umbrella.
Flash forward almost 30 years, and I am a wife. I have a wife, too. Who even knew such things were possible?
I do not look like a wife.
Wilma Flintstone was a wife. Donna Reed, wife. June Cleaver. Laura Petrie. Carol Brady. Jane Jetson.
Before W and I said I do, we had a conversation about her referring to me as her wife.
“I wouldn’t say anything in front of anyone, but I would cringe inside every time you said the word ‘wife,'” I said.
It is the association with traditional female roles and stereotypes that bothers me. It is fingernails on chalkboard.
It is the same way I felt when I was 10-years-old and forced to pick out back-to-school clothes from the girls’ section of the department store.
W comes home these days and greets me as she’s walking through the door.
“There you are, wife.”
I laugh. She laughs.
We are still dumbstruck by the fact that we are married. Legally married. Like non-gay people.
It is all new. We are still adjusting.
When W asks what she should call me, I tell her I don’t know. I don’t know yet. Sometimes I feel I’m still in transition, in flux. That it’ll all shake out one day. That I’ll know the answer then.
I feel bad for W, because I make everything so difficult.
If I’m not a wife, what am I? I’m not a husband. A spouse? Partner? That’s how we referred to each other in the old days, before we had a piece of paper that says we’re married.
I think about what it means to be a butch. Sure, it is about flannel shirts and comfortable shoes and football on Sunday and Monday and every other day of the week and beer and treating your lady like a queen.
But it is also about having the courage to be different, to be who you are. To answer to “sir” when you are anything but. To be mistaken for a young man when you are nearing menopause. It is about wearing a necktie when every other woman in the room is wearing a dress. And venturing into the women’s bathroom — that room with a door marked with the silhouette of a person wearing a dress — when you don’t know what kind of reception awaits.
So, yeah. Butch wife. Maybe I can handle that. On my terms. In my way.
Listening to sports radio when I bake cookies for the kids. Or wearing a tie when I take my wife out to dinner on date night.
Anyone got a problem with that?
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What do you call your significant other?