Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Stand By Your Man

Several years ago, when I first started working at Tribune Co., one of my new colleagues asked what my husband did for a living. A harmless enough question. When I replied "social worker," the co-worker responded, "Oh. You must be the dynamic one in the relationship."

I was so offended, I didn't know how to react. I let the comment slide, but it has annoyed me ever since. And it keeps coming back to me, especially in light of recent scandals involving Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rep. Weiner (whose first name is now utterly irrelevant).

I suppose if you narrowly define "dynamic" as ambitious, and equate ambition with making gobs of money as our culture pretty much does, then, no, my husband Dave isn't dynamic. (Neither am I anymore, having left the Trib to become a starving freelancer.) He doesn't want to climb the corporate ladder or become Master of the Universe or a Captain of Industry. His huge career move was to graduate from social worker to teacher--he works in special education, helping disadvantaged kids reach their potential.

Dynamic? You be the judge, but he puts my ambitions to shame every day.

Actually, the word people most often use when they find out Dave's profession is "noble." This irks him to no end, I suspect because he senses the slight note of condescension in the term. They don't say "how exciting" or "how innovative" or "how challenging." They say "noble" as if he's off doing the bidding of angels, while the rest of us engage in the "real" world of commerce and business, stuff like manufacturing and retail and research. Stuff you can buy, sell and trade--including power and influence. These are the things we value. And while we're glad that people like Dave exist to take care of the young and elderly and all those starving people in Africa, the implication is always "better him than me." We'd much rather be Bill Gates. Or, until yesterday, Mr. Weiner.

I guess that's what bothered me about the whole "dynamic" exchange. My co-worker reduced Dave to his job title and annual salary and dismissed him as unimportant. Of lesser value.

Let's ask Maria Shriver and Mrs. Weiner how valuable Dave looks to them now.

This is why I married him. Not because I thought he would make a good provider or that we could become some sort of unstoppable super couple. I married him because at his core he's quite simply the best person I know.

So I'm fine vacationing in Michigan. Shopping at the Gap instead of Barney's. Eating cheap chow at local bar and grills.

Because I know that I will never have to stand behind a podium, facing a blitzkrieg of cameras and reporters, while my husband confesses to sexting, or sleeping with prostitutes, or fathering a child with the maid.

My guy may not be dynamic. He's so much better than that. He's loyal, faithful and true.

He's a keeper, not a weiner.