Sun, Mar 12, 2006 - Page 17 News List

Modern love is automatic

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

In my next life I'm coming back as a man. I will have sex with my wife and knock her up and then in the hospital I will watch while she figures out how to get the baby out of her. And after my daughter is born, I will play with her when I'm in the mood and stop when I'm not and I won't get all psycho about it. I will throw her up in the air super high and get her wound up right before she's supposed to go to sleep and then I will let my wife, her mother, put her to bed.

I will have the best body I've had in years because having a newborn means that I will get up so early in the morning, I will end up going to the gym regularly. If my child doesn't eat or sleep or move her bowels for days or weeks on end, I won't worry about it.

"Would you stop worrying?" I will tell her mother, my wife. "What do you get yourself so worked up for?"

And then I will go out. I will enjoy life more than I did before I had children because fatherhood has shown me dimensions of my heart I could never have imagined, and everyone I know will agree it's made me a much better man. At night I will sleep like a baby because I am a man. I know it is my wife, her mother, whom my daughter will hate in 14 years. Not me.

But I am not a man, I'm a woman, I'm the wife, and what's worse, my in-laws are coming for dinner and I'm flat on my back in bed, sick as a dog. But Adam, my husband, is a dreamboat and goes with our baby, Olive, to buy all the groceries while I sleep.

I wake up to the smell of browning sausages. My sweet husband is at the stove with the cookbook open. I fall in love all over again. Then I look at the bag they came in and do a double take. He didn't buy them from Esposito's. We live in the sausage capital of the world and my husband may as well have brought back breakfast links from Denny's.

"Adam. Why didn't you buy them at Esposito's?"

"Because I was in the cheese store buying the bread and they had these, so I thought I'd try them."

"Are they the fennel ones?"

"No. They didn't have the fennel ones."

"Oh no."

"You know what, Cathy?" he says throwing the wooden spoon on the counter. "Do it yourself." He goes into his office to seek refuge.

I know he's right. But on the other hand he did bring home inferior sausage product. We're cooking a sausage ragout. Sausage is the main ingredient and it's corrupted. I knock on his door and try to apologize.

"I'm sorry, honey. I should have just been thanking you. That was so nice of you to do the shopping. Really. I just don't understand how you could not go to Esposito's. It's right next door to the cheese store. When they didn't even have the fennel ones, why didn't you just think to go next door?"

He starts yelling at me. He accuses me of torturing him. He's pounding his finger into the desk to illustrate how I pretend to apologize and then continue to stick it to him. Part of me thinks: Forget it. I'm fussy about food, and if that is the price the world has to pay for me getting over an eating disorder 20 years ago, then so be it.

But I've heard this before. I've seen the finger-pounding-into-the-desk gesture before. People tell me I am a bully. The speechwriter I dated before I met my husband explained to me, in a museum, after I kept showing him over and over a painting I loved, that he saw it the first time I pointed it out and that he didn't like it.

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