My father never told me…

[This was a writing prompt from the Chilmark Writing Workshop, which I had the pleasure of attending September 15-18, 2014.]

My father never told me how to light a grill or start a lawnmower, and for these two omissions in my paternal instruction, I really should thank him more often.

I married an engineer. A mad scientist, some say. A man who puts the cart before the horse, because he redesigned that damn cart and all these idiots all these years putting the cart behind the horse had no idea what the fuck they were doing. Here is this one little piece of metal. See this? This piece of metal will CHANGE THE WAY you and the WORLD and the GLOBAL MARKETPLACE think about carts, horses, and how to use the word “before.”

By the time Dave and I married in 2003—I, 26, and he, 28—after six years of courtship and four years of cohabitation, he had already launched his second company (there have been eight in total). He had birthed the first in late night sessions in our shoebox apartment on Beacon Hill after full, long days at a government think tank. He commandeered my computer, as his had, by his account, “exploded”—a word I would find over the years could be used to describe a variety of unexplained calamities. Don’t ask me about the week the TV, the car, and the meatloaf all exploded. I wouldn’t know where to begin.

The wife of an engineer seems so interesting to others. He’s so clever! So smart! Yeah, buddy, sure, but you should have seen what he was wearing ten minutes ago, when I shook my head and pointed back at the stairway to the apartment, wordlessly bidding him, “Try again.”

So yes, it is very cool to have a projection screen in my yard built out of a seven-dollar shower curtain, but if you want to have a firepit movie night, someone still has to mow the lawn and light the grill.

I remember a line from Grease, the Movie, when the coach stepped up at the pep rally, and said something like, “Remember. If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter.”

From the beginning, I have played the role of support staff to Dave’s various and varying endeavors. Now sixteen years into our lives together, I have worn so very many hats: mail carrier, editor, tech support, provider of sustenance, remover of sustenance on face, travel agent, hot wife, taxi service, Quickbooks guru.

But I don’t mow lawns and I don’t flip burgers.

So thanks to my old man, I’ll never quite be a jock strap.


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