Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Great Car Debate

Even the kind of car you buy can be an issue in a Him-plus marriage

A few years ago we were looking for a new vehicle, one that would fit both us and the dogs. We had a 1988 beater pickup truck that we dearly loved but needed replacing.

Sheri: was remembering her days traveling around the country in a Chevy van back in 1971. Yes! A van! Perfect for dogs, traveling and an aging hippie. Still a counterculture statement.

Michael: was thinking about minivans and soccer moms. A van??!! OMG! Just shoot me now, before I get any older.

Michael’s favorite car: his rag-top Jeep, which he had to leave in Arizona when he moved to New England 20 years ago. His mid-life crisis, should he ever have one, will involve, I think, a rag-top Jeep.

Sheri’s favorite: still that Chevy van, with burlap interior, a spare tire strapped to the roof, bikes strapped to the front, a bed in the back with tie-dyed sheets.

What we settled on: a Honda Element —marketed to young outdoorsy men but driven more and more by people with graying hair. The perfect choice.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eat mor chikin

Home from work the other night, I found Sheri in the kitchen working from a book called The 35-Plus Diet Cookbook. The cookbook’s pages are so yellow they’re brown, the loopy title font looks a little too disco, and the spine has been broken so often Sheri needs a rubber band to keep the pages in place. I wasn’t excited to see the book, which we once consulted nightly but has in recent years setttled near the bottom of the recipe drawer. The book reminds me of skinless chicken breasts and rice, and a time when I – a guy in his twenties – ate like a woman in her forties.

When Sheri and I met, my habit was to eat anything. Fat was best. Pizza. Hot dogs. Kielbasi. I ate enough fast-food cheeseburgers that I still moooo in my dreams.

Then comes a woman who is a bit more careful about what she eats, and she is over 35, and she has this cookbook …

And I’m eating skinless boneless chicken breasts. Baked. With rice. And a green vegetable.

A few nights later? Same thing. Substitute broccoli for asparagus.

A few nights later? Substitute green beans.

“I can’t eat more skinless boneless chicken breasts!” I’d say. “I’ll pick up a gyro.”

But then I felt guilty. Especially when Sheri would say, “Oh, get me one, too.”

Suddenly I’m the enabler. But Sheri felt guilty, too. She knew I’d rather be eating macaroni and cheese. I sacrificed for her by eating skinless and boneless; she sacrificed for me by eating a double-cheeseburger. With bacon.

It took a decade and too many of my own extra pounds to bring our eating habits in line. I cooked more often, added spices to the chicken breasts, and I figured ways to keep them a bit juicier. Sheri agreed to eat kielbasi now and then. I’ve given up fast food hamburgers.

Still, arriving home the other night to find her with that 35-plus cookbook in hand gave me the queasies. No, Sheri assured me, this is our favorite recipe. And it was! Thin slices of steak and asparagus sautéed in a goopy brown sauce. It wasn’t boring chicken!

A few bites into dinner, we agreed pizza would have been better.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


News Alert — In a surprise upset (a surprise for Esquire editors, at least), older foxy woman Helen Mirren crushes (66%-34%!!) younger foxy woman Megan Fox in Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive contest.

Round Two of the voting starts Monday, when Mirren faces Ann Hathaway. Be there.

Older woman thinks about it all

I said to Michael today when he reminded me it’s my turn to put up a post that all of this blogging has made me think a lot more about our age gap than I used to.

Is that a good thing?

Writing this blog has given me cause to watch some really bad television (see entries on “The Cougar,“Cougartown”), get suckered into figuring out my “Real Age,” follow the love lives of Katie Couric and Susan Sarandon, track the Twitter postings of Ashton Kutcher and ‘fess up to what I wrote in my journal almost 20 years ago.

But it’s also broadened my knowledge of the world, given me an opening for an honest chat with my mother-in-law, helped me think about his & her career issues, and given me a reason to watch a Kate Winslet movie.

We now find ourselves considering our age difference more than we used to, and confronting some issues — retirement, money, location — that we might have avoided.

The biggest advantage to thinking about our age difference so much is that I don’t hide from it anymore. Now I take it out and examine it a lot more than I might have, which makes it familiar — like wrapping up in a favorite sweater.

The bummer is that no matter how you slice it, I’m still the older one.