This morning, instead of plunging immediately into the writing, I clean the townhouse. Scrubbing, organizing and laundering…you know the deal. Too often my hard-working carpenter husband comes home to find the house in such a dismal state of emergency; as though burglars have broken in, gone through my clothing and makeup, scattered papers and books, and then sloppily constructing a sandwich before escaping. And often he makes dinner while I finish the day’s blog (even though he realizes I am probably mucking around on Facebook or trying to understand Twitter). My husband is such a supportive hunk of man, but it’s not all selfless devotion; he is laboring under the fact that if ever I hit the ‘big time’ that he would receive “big things”—like a truck so enormous, I would need a fireman’s ladder to climb into it. He often makes wistful remarks about wanting a truck. He also makes wistful comments about how a ‘clean house makes him happy’…so hopefully one day I can just cut him a cheque and then he can just drive around in his roomy vehicle whenever creativity occurs and basic hygiene takes a back seat to all else.
I was introduced to Ben at a New Zealand music festival, and eight months later we were married. He was so much taller than me that as we spoke, standing side by side, his words came in and out like a bad radio frequency. But I thought he was so unbelievably gorgeous that I just kept smiling and nodding when all I could hear was “And…was…music…think?” “Yeah…” I agree, batting my lashes, “Totally!” My neck ached from gazing up at him as if he were a dreamy, blue eyed sky-scraper. Concern crossed my mind early on: if I wanted to kiss him, how could I pull it off? I couldn’t really sneak a smooch without just mashing my face into his belly button. But despite the odds, there was an immediate connection. We spoke all night— from the festival to a café to several bars, and on every sidewalk in between. I asked him whether he felt he fit properly into the world. His answer was a resounding “no”. He always feels a bit like the world had shrunken around him as he continued to grow. And soon I would know exactly what he meant.
We lived in this tiny downtown flat in Perth, with a Murphy bed and a loveseat as a sofa. The shower head was low and to wash properly, Ben had to bend his knees as if he were a diver about to take a leap. One afternoon, we were getting dressed before going out. I went into the bathroom, and as soon as I closed the door, I heard what sounded like the shattering of glass. I dashed out into the main room, and Ben was tangled up in a sweater, his face frozen in horror, his head and shoulders covered in the snowy dust of the fractured light fixture. Ben’s arms were crossed and lifted as if tied crudely to the ceiling, looked at me with wild eyes. “What happened?” “I…don’t know…I was just putting on my jumper and I must have punched the lights”. “Sweetheart…” I said, leading him to a chair so I could sit him down (because I can’t help him all the way up there). “You are special, you can’t just be putting on jumpers wily-nily” I cooed, gently removing his sweater. But this is something to look out for—I get a little nervous for him around ceiling fans as well. And while yes, things are tight for him (see Sharing is Caring), what he cannot bear are the comments from strangers.
When asked about the worst ever comments, he says: “too many to choose from”. He hears it all the time, and he has heard it all. And by virtue, as his wife, I too get bizarre questions. And who doesn’t love to be asked about your penis size or your husband’s prowess? We love it. We welcome it. And as an added bonus, it’s totally appropriate. Women do get a little swoony around him and the fact that he is a strong silent type, only sweetens his allure. The cashier at our neighbourhood shop always smiles coyly at Ben, shaking her head in girlish disbelief: “You are so tall!” before looking at me, “Isn’t he so tall?” “Yes, he’s tall”. I answer, not really knowing how to respond. Sometimes people are so mystified about his height that I have to check and make sure I didn’t grab the wrong hand in the grocery store and am now at the bank with a Sasquatch. At nearly seven feet, he’s very aware. Yes, he’s tall. That’s a fact. And I’m small, which doesn’t help his case. His size is a direct contradiction to his personality, for he is quiet, shy, and his face reddens when he’s paid attention to . He’s a big gentle bear, and he’d rather you not gawk while he’s trying to do his big bear thing.
Still, people love to point it out as if Ben has been walking around his whole life wishing for longer legs. And while sometimes he laughs along, mostly it just pushes his limits. Recently in a Canadian Tire, this gruff old bastard hollered: “Hey STRETCH, just how short are ya?” It was a double faux-pas—not only did he comment, but it roused the attention of the other shoppers within ear shot. Ben’s jaw tightened and his face reddened. I try to reason that people are curious and inconsiderate in equal measures. But it embarrasses him, and who can blame him? It’s occasionally sweet…like that store clerk who loves herself a big ole bear. And I totally get it… after all, I married him.
As his wife and partner, though I make a terrible housekeeper, I am an excellent personal assistant. His comfort is important to me. And spatially speaking, I will always work to ensure that he fits. For example, we are heading to a play tonight, and I called the box office to reserve seats. Of course, it is not as simple as arranging names, numbers and nights, it is matter of specific seating. We require an aisle row in the far back so Ben can stretch his legs, and I need a booster seat so I can see the fucking show. With each seated event we go to, arrangements are made, because you do not want to be the poor bastard sitting behind my husband; and he doesn’t want your hatred boring holes into the back of his head.
When we were in Christchurch visiting Ben’s mother, she offered us two tickets to a Don Maclean concert. Though neither my husband nor I were die-hard fans, or terribly familiar with his catalogue beyond “American Pie” we happily accepted the tickets. The theatre was gorgeous…it also had seating similar to that of a small aircraft. As we inched closer and closer to the front of the theatre, I interrupted the usher. I leaned in and mentioned that the seating would not suit my husband. “The people behind us may not be happy”, I reasoned. The usher looked up at Ben as if he were a great Redwood tree and her gaze fell back down to his tiny woodland nymph wife. “You’ll be fine” she declared. We sat down, and Ben had to splay his legs open therefore evicting my legs, so I crossed them under myself like a seasoned yogi. He was shifting restlessly, trying to fold his legs in new and exciting ways when the sound of shrieking erupted behind us. “Oh my god…just my luck…look at this…I’ve got the HUGEST man right in front of me, the BIGGEST man, just my luck! Honey, honey-look, look I’ve got the most ENORMOUS man right in front of me…this is just terrible, TERRIBLE!” The woman stood directly behind Ben, pointing and barking to anyone that would listen. His scarlet skin deepened to a plum colour as he tried further to shrink himself down. She alerted our good friend the usher and complained about the audaciously tall man who had the nerve to step out in public. We were angry but we said nothing (see Rebuttal Struggle). Sitting quietly, our hands clasped together, we noticed a woman coming towards us, who was as obese as Ben was tall. (And in case I haven’t sufficiently driven this point home, Ben is extremely tall). She squeezed herself into the seat, her brown leather coat clad exterior spilling over the modest space allotted for my husband’s frame. Jesus, this night keeps getting better and better.
Ben’s legs turned like a sun dial to face me, his face now pressed into my shoulder, and my legs were swung over the lap of the person next to me. “That’s it!” I declared, “Let’s find you some leg room”. We unraveled our twisted bodies and searched for a different usher. I explained the situation: the useless employee, the abusive woman, that chocolaty leather rubbing against Ben’s shoulder. She was sympathetic but then immediately countered it with: “My god he is tall! What are you two even doing together?” But this kind of fascination suits, because she took us upstairs, introducing us to a sea of empty balcony seats and leg room as far as the eye could see. And we enjoyed the concert in comfort knowing that from now on, we would always be sure to call ahead.