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August 12, 2010

I Am Househusband: Hear Me Roar!

People over the years have called me many things. Some are even repeatable.

My favorites include: wordsmith, Next in Line and, of course, Beaver -- the last a nickname I acquired because it rhymes with my last name. If I don't ease off the pizza soon, it may also reflect the size of my tail.

Then came the September "Fall Fashion" issue of Marie Claire magazine. This bastion of hemline and hairstyle trends declares that stay-at-home husbands, like me, are "the ultimate status symbol for the successful professional woman."

Really? I'm the Jeffersonian deluxe apartment in the sky of spouses? Wheee-ZZY!

As Diane Solle, director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couple Education, told the magazine, "In a way, it's almost like bragging for a woman to say she has a stay-at-home husband. Not only is she the breadwinner with a great job, but she's also got this highly evolved male person -- a feminist, father, and a husband who doesn’t care what the gender roles are."

Nice, though I still feel somewhat like that Chihuahua peering out of Paris Hilton's Prada handbag.

Solle then finished her statement with, "It's really an elevated life-form."

"It's"?

"Life-form"?

Did she just compare me to E.T.?

(Note to self: Also lay off the Reese's Pieces.)

Forget third-party analysis. I need to talk with a primary source: my wife of 13 years. She's the definition of the "alpha woman." My Love is:

  • VP at an international Fortune 50 company
  • volunteer chairwoman of a national nonprofit organization, and
  • collector of a paycheck that lets me buy brand-name rice and two-ply TP almost at will.

As she was on a business trip in Puerto Rico earlier this week, I rang her iPhone to ask if I'm on par with her Volvo convertible.

ME: Would you say that being an at-home husband makes me the ultimate status symbol of your success?

HER: What? Where are the kids?

ME: Who? C'mon, answer the question. Do you brag to colleagues about my ability to bring home the bacon (that you pay for, of course) and fry it up in a pan?

HER: What are you getting at?

ME: I need a lifestyle upgrade. My wardrobe consists of beer company T-shirts and clearance-sale sneakers. I own a pay-as-you-go cell phone and drive a 4-year-old minivan.

HER: But you chose all those things. And you love the minivan.

ME: Don't confuse me with facts, MBA-wielding oppressor! As a trophy husband, by the power vested in me by a mainstream media outlet, I demand you primp and pamper me to befit my elevated station!

HER: Hey, if you don't like it, you can get a full-time paying job and I'll hire a chiseled male nanny to run the house.

ME: (pause) What would you like me to make tomorrow for dinner, dear?

My levelheaded wife, as usual, made a point later. My at-home status was a mutual decision, one we both know I embrace, enjoy and -- she'll admit -- I am far better suited for than she is, in temperament and skill (with the serious exception of folding laundry).

"You are always there when the kids or I or even the dog need you," she said. "That's not just being a status symbol."

So, Marie Claire, what am I, this toy with a broken X chromosome, to make of this … and you for that matter? Exactly three fall fashion issues ago, you extolled the benefits of owning a "starter husband." You remember that, don't you? Your writer described these temporary life-partners as being like a first job "where you learn some skill and polish your resume before going after the position you really want."

Oh, Marie Claire. I'd say you are a gold-digging tramp but that would imply I have money. I think you'll wear this label better: My glue-bound lady, you are a soul-sucking vamp.

I am not a luxury. For our family, I'm a necessity.

I am househusband: hear me roar!

* * *

That nonprofit my wife heads? It's trying to get a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant to pay for research into a cure for our daughter's rare autoimmune disease, juvenile myositis. We're need to finish in the top 2 in voting come August's end and today we are at No. 4. Please help us by voting every day - once by text, once by Facebook and once by e-mail. See our application or click the "Vote for this idea" button below for details.Thanks! -- Kevin

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