Say Goodbye to the Missus ~ 16th April 2013
“Say goodbye to the Missus” I heard the man call as he was leaving. He meant well. Nice guy really and I rather enjoyed playing the part for the half hour or so. Until I could turn the job over to my husband. Which I happily did.
So it’s my fault I suppose. The play-acting. I’m not that good at dealing with household maintenance issues, but I can make a decent show of it. I made the call. Set up the appointment. As Oscar Wilde is said to have quipped: either the wallpaper goes or I do. That’s how I felt about the influx of carpenter ants.
Yes. A luxury problem. One that comes from having a rather nice artsy house in the woods. But enough. I’m not a country girl, so when the country wildlife has the gall to invade the interior all bets are off.
The man showed up at noon or thereabouts. “Mrs. Newton?” Close enough. “I hear you and your husband were out of town this weekend for your daughters wedding.”
I laughed and slightly indicated my bulging stomach. No. I replied. I think it may be a number of years before we have to concern ourselves with that. He looked puzzled. “We were out of town working.” As if that should help clarify things. I’m not sure it did.
But from that moment on I became “a woman in your condition.” I think he must have unwillingly let that turn of phrase slip out at least a dozen times.
Ah well. Odd that it only occurred to me later that he somehow mistook me for someone who could possibly have a daughter old enough to even entertain the idea of marriage.
But then I do have a son. A stepson. And he is, all things considered, old enough. Not that he’s considering. At least, we don’t think so.
Just a minor morning event. A friendly man who loved his job. Who took precautions to use a natural herbal compound for my protection. Who was helpful. Cheery. Chatty. Competent.
But I became “The Missus.” The little lady due in just a few months and the role was only accentuated when my husband arrived home. I’m not a Mrs. I’m not a Newton. But nevermind. Not holding down the same last name as my husband has managed to confuse even the most progressive of people from day one.
How should we address your mail? It’s just so much to write, both your names. Or: That wouldn’t have been a problem if you had taken your husbands surname.
And my favorite: He must feel bad. Slighted somehow. Indicating not so subtly that I am an uncaring, insensitive wife ignoring my traditional wifely duty. Selfish to maintain my identity post-marriage when it should rightfully be absorbed into his.
But he doesn’t, feel slighted that is. Not in the least. He was the first to question why I would even consider changing my name to take his. As if I were chattel, a joke of ours. Another addition to his estate.
Which is a relief because I find it odd to even be thinking about such things in 2013. So much for “You’ve Come a Long way, Baby,”
And sometimes we wind up places where the account is in my name. Then we become “The Kaschers.” He gets to play Mr. Kascher and does a rather smashing job of it.
So when I heard the man chirpily call out: “Say Goodbye to the Missus,” I just had to laugh.