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Max Roytenberg

Max Roytenberg: Downsizing!

by Max Roytenberg, Nov 20 2013,

 “Will you still love me,” I begged, “when I have no more storage space to offer”

Refugees from Winnipeg, Canada, the Great White North, we have been living in Ireland, now, for over six years. Newly married, in our seventies, we fled our homeland, abandoning all, and chose Ireland- my Bride had dreamed of retiring here from before I claimed her hand and her attention.

Today my Bride got a new frypan. She was as excited as if I had just bought her a beautiful new 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?

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.  When we had a chance at a tiny apartment on the River Liffey, and an expansive view, we grabbed  it .

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 nester, collector of recipes, cookbooks, crafts materials, books, whatever. I would be happy with one or two articles of clothing in each category. Not my wife. I face continuing pressure to expand my wardrobe. Can I deny my Bride a few threads to cover her nakedness? Although tiny has now become cosy, every crevice in our small space is crammed , with shelving and buffets and bookcases added to contain our new possessions. We had agreed to discard an article from our home whenever one is added. 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 a direction crafted by female insurrection. Gradually, power has shifted to the distaff side. I am conscious of the precious time 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 treasured nuggets of remembrance, airy confections of laughter and warmth, to mark the inexorable passage of our lives. 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 ears, I am convinced 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 our 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, appears that we cannot live without for another day, adding to what we will leave behind if we should terminate our Irish adventure.

Yes, I really believe that it is true.

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