As Published in The Rye Record on November 21, 2014
Being a contestant on a reality TV show is an amazing journey. I know this because, when interviewed, each and every one of those contestants (win or lose) says what an amazing journey it’s been. I’ve never been on one of those shows, so I’m going to take their collective word for it.
When I was watching the election returns last week, I was shocked to find that the conceding candidates had also, in fact, just completed an amazing journey. They said it again and again, like they were standing next to Ryan Seacrest. The journey was their decision to run for office, the development of a platform and a constituency, ending in a loss. Interesting? Sure. Amazing? No. There were only two ways the election could have gone. But again, I’ve never run for office.
Here’s what I have done: I’ve been married with kids. So when I see my Facebook friends wishing their amazing husbands a happy anniversary, I take pause. When I see “Happy Birthday to the most amazing 9 year old in the world”, I think what gives? Is everybody’s family amazing but mine? What, I wonder, is so amazing about these people?
Just to be clear: Amazing (adj.) Causing great surprise and wonder. Astonishing.
I picture these husbands swooshing into the bedroom in tights and capes. Maybe they clean the gutters dressed like Liberace and spinning plates in one hand. Amazing connotes a bit of flash. It suggests that an unforeseen “ta-da!” is just around the corner at all times. This kind of thing almost never happens in my house. My husband and children are good, even excellent, but I just can’t remember the last time any of them pulled a rabbit out of a hat.
My husband is not a “ta-da!” kind of guy. His superpower is his ability to make the perfect joke in the most tense possible situation, thereby returning all participants to equilibrium. The value of this power cannot be overstated, and the first few times I experienced it, I have to admit that I was amazed. But now it happens so regularly that there’s probably another word for how I feel about it. After the 8th or 9th time Superman stops a train from running over your girlfriend, you are no longer amazed. Maybe it’s “grateful” we’re looking for?
Actually my favorite thing about my family is its un-amazingness. They are consistent. The kid who says he’ll be home at midnight, walks through the door at midnight. I know what to expect. They wake up, get dressed, eat bacon, and leave their stuff out in the rain in such a consistent matter that I’d be astonished if they didn’t do these things.
After 18 years, if my husband was constantly amazing me, I think it would kind of get on my nerves. “Look honey, I painted a reproduction of the Mona Lisa on our front door! Check me out, I’m entering the house through the chimney today!” That’s amazing, honey. Now stop it!
Same goes for that amazing children’s movie you just saw. I understand that it was good, and that you liked the music and whatever little talking animal they threw in. But were you really amazed that it all worked out in a happily ever after fashion? Were you amazed the princess didn’t end up living alone, hoarding mayonnaise jars and caring for cats? Really?
It’s clear why I don’t wish my husband happy anniversary on Facebook, apart from the fact that he’d never see it. We’ve gotten to a place where it’s hard to talk without hyperbole, because the truth seems a little dull. Happy anniversary to my consistently good husband! That would be the truth. Thanks for entering the house through the front door like you’re supposed to. What would people think?
I’ll tell you who’s amazing: The Amazing Spiderman. It’s in his name. He can shoot webs out of his wrists and use them to get around. He can be glum and sort of untalkative, but still keep Mary Jane’s interest. I’ve seen him kiss upside down! That guy, and only that guy, is amazing.