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Max Roytenberg


by Max Roytenberg, Dec 1, 2013, Dublin

Today my Bride got a new frypan. She was as excited as if I had just bought her a beautiful new necklace, a beautiful jewel for her finger, some highly prized article of designer clothing or accessory. I made her day. I’m jealous-a new pot brings her more ecstasy than having me around?

Refugees from Winnipeg, Canada, the Great White North, we have been living in Ireland, now, for over six years. We fled our homeland, seeking foreign shores, and chose Ireland, because my Bride had dreamed of retiring here for years before I claimed her hand and her attention. She and a close friend had even chosen where, and in what home, they would spend their declining years. Fate and the Grim Reaper intervened, but when I appeared on the scene, reawakening old memories and buried feelings, and expressed my wanderlust, she opted for this place.

When we settled here in Dublin in 2007, rental space was in short supply. We had to line up to compete for the most miserable accommodation at outrageous prices. What a shock after the spaciousness and glitz of most of the North American accommodations to which we were accustomed! When we had a chance at an apartment on the River Liffey, and an expansive view, we grabbed at it without a thought for rental cost for a very small space. With time, fortunately, small became cosy in our eyes, and a housing bubble collapse led to lower costs for our space. The declining Euro helped as well.

When we came here to Ireland I impressed on my Bride, given the unknowns that we should consider anything we acquired for our new home in Ireland as disposable. I believed that we should be prepared to walk out the door at a moments’ notice, leaving behind anything we could not pack into a purse, pack or suitcase. We were in agreement that this was sensible.

Now, my Bride is a collector- recipes, cookbooks, crafts materials, books, whatever. There is no question she is a nester. I would be happy with one or two articles of clothing in each category. Not my wife. I have faced a continuing pressure to expand my wardrobe. Could I deny my Bride the right to buy a few threads to cover her nakedness? One can easily extrapolate from this specific. Fast forward today and every crevice in our small space is crammed with materials of every kind and description. Naturally we have had to find space for furniture to contain our added possessions, shelving and buffets and bookcases. Get the picture? We have now agreed to discard an article from our home whenever one is added. However, I still hold to the same dictum. I am still prepared to walk out the door, leaving behind all our accretions, including our television set. However, my bride is now making errant noises.

Our perfect marriage has always been in a state of flux, with almost all the action going in the direction crafted by female insurrection. Total control of finances on my part has given way to a prescribed housekeeping allowance with me responsible for everything else. Of course, if my Bride does not have her purse with her, the gentleman at her side will obviously take care of matters. On the other hand, on the odd occasion when my poor planning has led to the danger of being financially embarrassed, she has suddenly been there with amazing savings from the household budget.

We are always aware of the precious minutes trickling through our grasping fingers, only looking back do we see the silent stream as a raging torrent sweeping our lives away. Consciously, I seek to create airy confections of laughter and warmth to mark the inexorable passage of our lives with treasured nuggets of remembrance. There is very little masculine territory that I am prepared to defend. I smile through the multiple chidings of my irritating male insouciance, mindless concentration on the inner workings of my mind to the exclusion of life’s practicalities. I do windows and floors on request, leap to do the dishes and the vinaigrette, sweep the floor and make the bed, sometimes without even being asked. I am appointed to make the meal sometimes, receiving bushels of positive reinforcement from my beaming Bride. In contrast to the narrative playing in my ear, I believe I have become an ideal husband. I stand eager to improve my performance and my standing in the ranks.

I am blessed with a wife who takes pleasure in feeding me. I am a willing applicant. Through this territory I must weave like a broken field runner in a football game, dodging and twisting through the issues of healthy living and reduced calories, climbing enthusiastically on board when called to attention, and ignoring these issues when all the tempting and delectable contradictions are placed lovingly before me. I rarely say no when the regimen is ravaged with loving kindness. Thus there is joy and rejoicing in the land when a new pot or pan, salad bowl, or other kitchen device, all exceedingly precious accretions to our crowded shelves we cannot live without for another day, are added to the menagerie that we supposedly will leave behind if we terminate our Irish adventure.

Yes, I really believe that is true.

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