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A Case For Polygamy

Posted on Nov 17, 2012

As published in The Rye Record on November 17, 2012

I’m starting to really rethink this whole monogamy thing. It sounds kind of racy, and no I haven’t met anyone, but in the aftermath of the Hurricane Sandy nightmare, I find myself in possession of sister wives. And I’m not sure I’m willing to go back to the way things were.

I live in a very male household. It’s my husband and three sons and me. The only pink item in our house is a breast cancer awareness pepper grinder. We do not have a single Barbie doll or set of fairy wings. No one notices my clothing or the slightly lighter tint of my hair. No one’s interested in my grandmother’s tea set. If we’re talking, it’s about the Knicks, the Spurs, the Giants and the Steelers. Not one of us knows how to apply mascara properly.

So when my power went out and then was miraculously restored on the 9th day, I had two friends (now sister wives) come stay at my house with their families. In the first few hours we circled the island in my kitchen, not knowing who the top hen was or where we all stood in the pecking order. We didn’t want to step on each other’s toes or be bossy about how things got done. It was my coop after all, and I think they were waiting to see how I operated.

Then one of the sister wives mentioned that she had a lovely chicken dish that she liked to make, and asked if we would be interested in having that for dinner. Gasp! Sigh! Swoon! That was pretty much it for me. I wouldn’t have cared if she was scolding my children or flirting with my husband. The woman came up with something to make for dinner. And then (please remain seated) she left for the supermarket to get the ingredients.

At three o’clock the normal bedlam kicked in, times three. The kids were home, excited to see their new siblings and scurried off to play. The sister wives and I tag-teamed on laundry, took turns driving kids to sporting events and caught up in a slow, meandering way that I didn’t know how much I missed.

I grew up in a household of women. For much of my childhood it was my mom, my sister and me. We had a lot of conversation. We could rehash a dinner party, a sideways glance, or the neckline of a dress for hours. Women talk about an event and how they felt about it. And then we like to go back and describe how our feelings about said event have evolved over time. It’s what we think of as conversation, and this may be why men avoid conversation with women with such determination.

In a house full of boys, there isn’t this sense of rehashing, or just conversation for its own sake. Boys use words to convey information or to make requests. “I’m hungry” or “can you drive me to basketball?” are staples. My boys don’t start conversations with, “You know what I was thinking about today?” or “Do you think my hair would look better if…” It’s baffling.

The sister wives and I drank tea until teatime turned into cocktail hour. We made dinner. We fed the children and the menfolk as they rolled in, one by one. We wondered to each other which of the husbands we’d choose to keep if we really were to become sister wives. This made for a hilarious assessment of all of our husbands’ good and bad qualities. There was a pretty good case for keeping each of them. And we laid out their worst flaws for comparison: 1. makes too many lists, 2. doesn’t know where anything is, 3. works from home.

One of them got her power back last night, and I’m afraid the other might get hers back soon. Life’s going to get back to normal and the testosterone imbalance will be restored. I’m hoping they’ll come back, even when they don’t have to, with tea and wine and suggestions about what to make for dinner.