Yes, he did.
Of course I thought he was doing that all along, but apparently I was wrong.
My Twitter friend @rascality has a good word for the pickle in which my husband found himself: Mansplaining, or the attempt to explain something during which a man finds himself in deeper doo doo than he anticipated. At least that’s how I’m going to define it for this post.
During an attempt to prove to me he read one of my posts and agreed with my conclusions, my husband revealed that it was the first post he ever read. Or remembered reading. Actually that wasn’t what he meant at all, it was just the first post about which he felt he had something meaningful to say. At that point it really didn’t matter because the mansplaining was making things worse.
The conversation went something like this:
Him: I read your post yesterday.
Me: You mean the re-post of a piece on my blog from a couple of years ago.
Him: Uh, I’m not sure.
Me: So it was the first time you read the post?
Him: Um, yes?
Him: But let me get to my point. Your sister really did get to wear the cool hats when you went for rides in your grandfather’s Jeep. You looked really ugly.
If that were not already an established fact, things would have dramatically worsened right there. Thankfully for my husband, my awkward years between the ages of 5 and 25 are well documented by photographs proving my unattractiveness.
Him: That dorky visor hat thingy with the scarf was so weird. Why did they always make you wear it?
Me: Because I was the ugliest grandchild and they didn’t want to waste a good cowboy hat on me. You’d know that if you’d read those other two posts about my growing pains.
Him: Why didn’t you insist on you and your sister trading off who wore the cowboy hat and who wore the ugly visor and scarf combo?
Me: I’m sure I asked but…
Him: I’m surprised you didn’t grow up hating your sister for getting to wear the cool hats.
Most kids in my position would have probably revolted. I, on the other hand, was always very obedient and never challenged authority. I also never hated my sister for looking so good.
Him: Why didn’t you just fight back?
Me: Fight back? At my grandparents? Are you crazy?
I was never a fighter; kumbayah might as well have been my middle name. And I’m pretty sure that clothing the ugly grandchild in ugly outfits would not reach the threshold to qualify for child abuse. In my mind, things happened because that’s the way they were supposed to happen. I had no idea that I could influence change.
That reminded me of a letter I read after my grandparents passed away. I was sorting through the boxes of their personal effects we still had in our garage. If you are not thick skinned, I strongly advise you never to do this. If you can’t find a stranger to look through your family’s personal papers—and really, what stranger would want to do that unless you were a world leader or a poet—there are times when it’s better to dump everything and simply look ahead.
I am not thick skinned, but I am also very curious and interested in preserving my family’s history. I felt it was my duty to look through everything and determine what needed to be saved for future generations. As I read some of the letters of which my grandfather meticulously kept carbon copies, I learned that he and my grandmother considered me a difficult child when I visited. The shock of being called difficult was overwhelming, I told my husband.
Him: Maybe your grandparents were uncomfortable with a grandchild who wasn’t yet showing her beauty. It might have been easier for your grandparents to transfer the blame to you, calling you difficult, instead of saying “We really don’t like it when the unattractive one visits,” which is, you know, not a good thing to say to anyone.
Good save, Michael.
And in retrospect, he may be on to something.