Monday, December 29, 2008

An Unnecessary Burden

You'd think, on a day that saw the Minnesota Vikings earn a playoff berth on a 51 yard field goal as time expired, The Common Man would be more gleeful. However, he just finished a long trek back across the United States, starting in the American desert and finishing in the deep freeze. He is tired and cranky and ready for bed, but figured he owed a quick post to the lot of you after snapping out of his post-Christmas fugue. The travel itself was not terrible. Both flights were on time, The Boy behaved beautifully on both, and The Common Man even got time to read a little (an atrocious book about Babe Ruth).

The Common Man always gears up for travel days. Like most of you out there, The Common Man takes packing and carrying his luggage very seriously, wanting to get most of it done at least 24 hours in advance and to efficiently use the space and the 50 lbs. limit judiciously for his two free pieces of luggage. He was largely successful this time around, as he got both cases up to 49.5 lbs of clothes and presents, before backing off, and added just a large bag to his family's pile of carry-ons (which included a stroller, a carseat, a diaper bag, a briefcase, a backpack, and two jackets) to get presents back home.

The Uncommon Wife, however, hates travel days. And she hates them mostly because The Common Man gears up for them. He gets anxious and paces. He reminds her that he needs her makeup bag before he can pack any more. He packs things that she wants to wear. It's not that The Common Man is stressed, per se, he just wants everything to go perfectly in the traveling. For it is during the journey that men like The Common Man see an opportunity to prove themselves. To show how manly and awesome and completely necessary they are to the family unit. If they pack just right, if they manage to not forget a single thing, if they carry three bags and a carseat through the airport, their wives will see just how indispensible they are and will be reminded of the manly virility that made them so attractive in the first place. And so The Common Man straps on the backpack, carries the carseat in the crook of his elbow, and balances a briefcase in one hand and a shopping bag in the other as he races between terminals to go from one plane to the next. He enjoys playing the pack mule, enjoys showing off like an ape wooing a mate, and likes demonstrating he's an absolutely crucial cog in the family machine in this way that his completely transparent obviously.

The Uncommon Wife, God bless her, plays along. Even though it drives her nuts and she rightly argues that she can carry a backpack and push the stroller at the same time, she lets The Common Man have his day, knowing how important for her man to get the day just right, even when getting it right means that she's more than a little frazzled by her husband's neuroses. So men, if you strain under the weight of those bags, the ones you don't have to carry but feel that honor demands you carry, think of the significant other who makes that possible. Who wants to help, but won't because they realize taking a single pound off your back will bruise your ego. And give thanks for the woman who lets you act like a man. Even when you're being an idiot about it.

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