“There’s no stigma here. Not even for online dating.” Paul said. He’s a spectacled bartender at the friendly neighborhood drinkery I oft find myself drowning my sorrows in. You know it’s a good bar because the employees drink there on their off days too. I was precariously perched on a bar stool next to Paul. We were lamenting the trouble of relationships.
“I’d like to be a house husband. I’d be awesome at that.” He declared to me. I could tell he’d put a lot of thought into this. An errant curl was giving him a Clark Kent-esque demeanor. I was waiting for him to toss his head back to put it back in place.
“But to what end? How will your life be different if you were suddenly a house husband?” I asked him. It was the first time I had ever said ‘house husband.’ The breathiness of the word was hyper ventilating me a little bit.
“Well, I’d clean and cook and be taken on lavish dates to expensive restaurants.”
I knew relatively little about Paul, but I did know that he didn’t talk about his personal life to anyone at the bar. Even on his off days. Ask him who he’s dating and he’ll coyly respond, “I’m seeing a few people.” And try as you might, that’s the only detail you’ll ever get out of him. But ask him about how his hypothetical dates go, and the flood gates open.
“Ok Paul. Pretend, I make you my house husband. I decree you all the rights of being my house husband. What does your house husband date look like?”
Pretend is such a powerful word. I listened to a guy at a wedding talk to me about the word pretend for the better part of an hour. “When you preface a sentence with Pretend you remove all the road blocks, all the bullshit, all the impossibility. Without rules and bounds, it frees people to move forward in their thinking.” This guy was right. Paul started talking.
“Ok Hubs. Well, you’d need to have planned in advance.” I almost stopped him right there, but I didn’t want to spoil our hypothetical house husband date.
“I don’t mess around with not planning. So, in advance, you’d need to have booked a limo for us. And a nice one; black, shiny, none of this party bus bullshit.” He was specific. He’d been on this date before in his mind.
“Why not just an Uber or something? Those are pretty pro looking and you’d only call them when you need them.” I knew the answer, but I wanted him to say it.
“Uber means you didn’t plan shit, and you’re just trying to look important, even though you’re not. Besides, I’m not going to stand around on our date waiting for some God damn iPhone app to call us a cab. I want someone waiting for us.” He pressed his finger into the wood of the bar. The way he was talking I thought he might take his shoe off and start hitting it.
“Alright, so no Uber. Got it. The thing I’m worried about is whether or not the limo will fit.” I said, casting a line.
“What do you mean? Fit where?” He nibbled.
“Well for our date. I figured we’d drive through Popeye’s chicken or something. Maybe if you were a good house husband we’d do Outback take away.” I said.
“You’re a fucking asshole. No wonder your girlfriend left you.” He said.
Now I have an ex-pretend-house-husband.
– Joshua Ziering