Monday, November 1, 2010

George Clooney and Mr P

Lately, I’ve noticed a change in Mr Practical. Reading material is now being held at arm’s length but according to him, that’s not an issue, because if things are held at arm’s length, he can see them just fine. (That’s not a solution, Pumpkin - it’s denial!)

Anyway, last week on his birthday he randomly announced he was going to get his eyes checked. I congratulated him on coming to his senses and before going to our favourite Greek restaurant for a sumptuous lunch, we called in to the optometrist to make an appointment.
“When did you last have your eyes checked,” asked the mature-aged woman behind the counter.
“Ooh,” said Mr P, straining to think.
“Fourteen years ago,” I chirped. I remembered because it was just before our teen was born.
The woman raised her eyebrows and inhaled through her nostrils. I was hoping she’d unload on him and give him a quick lecture or at least make a snide comment underlining how slack that was, but instead a smile emerged and she added, “I’ll book you in for the works.” Argh, she was siding with him!

The appointment was made but instead of us heading for the door, Mr P got enthusiastic about frames and veered off to the Mens section. This man has never worn glasses. He’s big and tough with a menacing permanent frown crease set between his feathery eyebrows. He owns a t-shirt that says, WARNING: CONTAINS ATTITUDE. What he’s not, is a book worm. His reading material of choice is a trucking magazine. I’ve even found volumes of magazines containing truck and machinery for sale. We’re talking page after black and white page of classifieds. It’s any wonder we don’t have a vintage plough on our front lawn! So just the thought of Mr P wearing glasses makes my head tilt.

A Few Options
The first pair were thick, black coke-bottle rimmed frames. I turned around and just one look, made me want to smack them off his face. “No!” I said, giving him that look I give to the children sometimes when they’re contemplating over-stepping the mark. I knew he was toying with me.

The second pair were red and black striped. I shook my head. “You’re not a male hairdresser or a couture fashion designer. There’s no way you could carry that off.”

The third pair glowed green on the inside which illuminated his face. “Great if you go clubbing but again, I don’t think you can make that work for you. I can only imagine what comments the men at the station would make if you rocked up in those.” Rimless options didn’t look any good either.

Then he slipped on a pair of brushed metallic Ralph Lauren frames. “I’m thinking architect,” I said, casting a glance out the door to the other side of the mall at the red SALE signs swinging in the air conditioned breeze, over at the ladies fashion store. It was hypnotic.

He studied his new look in the mirror like a model (too weird) and then he pouted. That was too much. I knew he was just joking but the greying hair and now glasses was making me feel old-er.
Times Were Changing
We’ve been together since I was in high school and the years have flown by so fast. I’ve always thought of ageing as something people who were older than us did, but not us. We were somehow exempt. This was fast becoming a sour dose of reality.
The appointment was booked for two days time and the plan was, that I would meet him towards the end of the appointment, we’d choose a frame together and then have lunch. However, I got a text message to say it was all done and he’d brought sushi home for lunch. Home? What happened to the plan? What about my consent... I mean, opinion?

This is the man who has been known to wear slide on leather sandals with thick blue work socks and think it’s funny that I get upset about it. He cannot be trusted to choose something as visible and important as reading glass frames because as much as I love him - the man has no sense of style!

Consequently, I’ve learnt to pick my battles and negotiate. To avoid further serious ‘discussions’ on the topic, he now has a designated group of t-shirts/shorts/jeans combos that he can wear and I’m not allowed to comment. If he steps outside those parameters he’s fair game because when ‘practical’ is taken to the extreme it can be... well, a little unpleasant to the eye ie. Ugly. There I’ve said it.
The George Clooney Bit
Obviously sensing my reluctance to accept the visible signs of his changing appearance, this morning Mr P tried to help me adjust (and God bless him for trying, I say.) I opened my eyes and we lay there, face to face in bed. “Do you find George Clooney attractive?”he blurted. That was random.
I was barely awake. “What?”
“George Clooney. Do you think he’s attractive?”
“Um, yeah, I guess. I don’t swoon but...”
“I saw a picture of him the other day and I thought, “He’s a good looking bloke!”
“Your point?” Where was this going? I reached for my tea.
“He’s good looking and he’s really grey now...”
“He’s also a decade older than you..!
Mr P wouldn’t accept it. He was sure they were the same age.
“Wait... are you comparing yourself to George Clooney?”
“Yeeeah,” he admitted, breaking into a laugh. I joined in and almost tipped my tea in the bed. Nice try. He really thought he was on to something.

A Waiting Game
So, as I wait to see which frames he’s chosen, my uneasiness gently simmers. Really, it’s not about which frame he's chosen, I realize that. It’s the actual change I’m finding confronting. As his hair has become more grey and now the glasses, it’s a stark reminder that time is passing quickly. We’re still young but the lines of this playing field have gradually been moving but I’ve only really just noticed.

If anything, it’s an urgent reminder to stay connected to those we love, accept each other as we change and to support and love them no matter what. Because, while we are seeing the changes, they are living them.

As for us, Mr Practical aka The Silver Fox (as our teen calls him) and his fabulous, young-looking wife (ahem...that would be me) will still be seen stepping out on the town, cuddling up at the movies and laughing our way through the rest of our lives together. I just hope we’re doing it while he’s wearing Ralph Lauren architect-style frames not the glow-in-the-dark, boom-boom-shake-the-room ones. Either way, his love still holds my heart and that’s all the reassurance I need.

©2010 Philippa Vette