Thursday, January 05, 2006


In Which She Sticks Up for Me...

Her Lovely Self is a low-profile kinda gal. Growing up, she was always talkative at home but put her in a social setting--such as school--and she became a shrinking violet (actually, stunning as this is for me to believe, the Brownie behaves almost exactly the same way). HLS is polite to a fault. She goes along to get along.

As you can imagine, big-mouth that I am, this has always bothered me. HLS is a smart, articulate woman. She can cut me down to size pretty much any time she feels like it, so I know of whence I speak. But she'll come home and bitch about this person saying something stupid, or that person putting someone else down, and I can't stop myself from saying, "Why didn't you speak up? Why didn't you set that bitch straight?" They're rhetorical questions, of course. HLS doesn't like to ruffle feathers.

I'm a little different. My parents taught me to be courteous and respectful, of course. But they also taught me that if I saw injustice being done, if I or someone I knew was being treated unfairly, I was always encouraged to speak up. Same deal for people I decided were too full of themselves. They were balloons of pomposity and I was a pin.

And as much as my family and I sometimes did not get along, we always looked out for each other. When my brother was in his 20s and quit a cooking job, he couldn't bring himself to go and collect his last paycheck from the café owner, who was a right prick of a man, the kind of nattering jabber-mouth who loved pelting my brother up one side and down the other with all manner of insults, often in front of his fellow employees and café patrons. My brother couldn't bear one more second of being in this man's presence, and begged me to go pick up his last check for him (the right prick wouldn't put it in the mail. He wanted to humiliate my brother in front of a crowd one last time). So when I showed up at the height of lunch hour the prick saw me coming and started braying, catering to his audience, "Where's yer brother? Too scared to collect his last check?"

"No," I replied evenly, all of 18 and full of beans. "He's at the Health Department right now, filling out a report about the Band-Aid that turned up in last week's Soup of the Day. The minestrone, I believe."

Across the café, spoons froze in mid-air.

The prick turned pale, then red. "That's a goddam lie!" he cried, looking around at his patrons. "No such-- there was never--"

"Yeah, yeah, that's what they all say," I answered, snatching the check out of the prick's hand. I turned to go and said, "Enjoy your lunch everyone."

Of course, there was never any instance of a Band-Aid in the soup, and my brother was mortified when I told him what I'd said. But I think he's over it by now.

I wouldn't concoct a total fiction to defend someone now, but I still stick up for my own, and I never forget those who stick up for me (as some of you here have done, most especially when Art Lad was launched. And I will never forget it).

Not Her Lovely Self, though. When my in-laws tick off their list of problems with our kids (this one is too hyper, that one is too mouthy) HLS never musters a defense, preferring to let it wash over her like a great tidal wave. Once, when her parents remarked that I was "kind of hard and rude with people" she agreed with them. Agreed!

So there you have it. If there's one great difference between Her Lovely Self and me (aside from the fact that she is still totally hot and I am exquisitely not) it's that we have absolutely polar views on confrontation, even confrontation that involves sticking up for a loved one.

Which is why I was so floored to hear this story from one of the Yummy Mummies last week:

A few weeks ago, after Thanksgiving, HLS was at a little neighborhood mixer with the Yummy Mummies and everyone's kids. Husbands were invited, but I had an after-work meeting I didn't want to reschedule. So the gathering ended up being mostly a girls only thing, but there were two men present. Both were good buddies, having grown up in the same social circle of our community. That would be the social circle of the rich and the privileged. One was the son of a local real estate mogul and the other was a scion of the owner of the largest auto dealership in the tri-state area.

Alcohol was flowing freely, spirits were high, and the two men, surrounded as they were by Yummy Mummies, were in full braggart mode. Except that the stories they told--about taking a dump on the kitchen floor of a house one's Dad was selling; of wrecking a number of new cars after boosting them off of Dad's lot--did not strike HLS as impressive in the least. Juvenile at best.

Yet their wives were chortling over these misadventures like their husbands were geniuses. And then one of the wives said, "Oh! Oh! Tell her about the thing you did with the video games."

And here the two men cackled and proceeded to tell Her Lovely Self about the new Xbox 360, that hot and nigh-unfindable item this holiday season, the one every game geek was standing in line for at Best Buys and Circuit Cities across the country, hoping to get one of the few available (and indeed, they were in such demand that my PR contact at Microsoft could not promise me a review model until after the first of the year).

Anyway, our heroes of this tale explain how, between the two of them, plying their family connections, they actually manage to score four or five units between the two of them.

"So we each got one for ourselves!" and here the guys high-fived each other.

"And the other three we sold on eBay for double the retail!" one cried.

"No dude," his friend said. "Remember the bidding war on the last one? We tripled our money on that one."

The wives tittered like their smart husbands had scored a major stock market coup. Her Lovely Self just stood there, drink in hand, hoping there was a better punchline than that. I mean, these guys are wealthy. They certainly didn't need the money they made from their eBay adventure.

One of the other Yummy Mummies (the one who ultimately told me the story) said, miffed, "Well, gee, thanks. My son wanted one and I can't find it anywhere thanks to guys like you."

One of the guys sneered at her. "You shoulda said something. We'd have let you have it for what we were selling it for."

And out of nowhere (maybe it was the wine she was drinking), Her Lovely Self said, "So basically, you guys got lucky and instead of doing something Christmas-y with the extra units, you decided to be profiteers?"

The two men--and their wives--stared at Her Lovely Self. I'm sure they looked as though someone had just put a Band-Aid in their minestrone.

Then one said, "Oh come on. We just got lucky and took advantage of the fact."

"Took advantage is right," HLS snorted.

"Oh please!" the other guy sneered. "What about you? I see your husband coming home all the time with boxes of stuff he gets sent from the magazine. Movies and books that aren't even out yet. Last Christmas he had those Nintendo DS and PSP units. You're telling me he doesn't put some of that stuff online and make a little on the side?"

According to my source, HLS replied, "Oh, he put it online all right. He held his own auction where people bid good deeds to win different things."

The two guys stared blankly at her.

"Good deeds? I don't get it," one said.

"I'm not surprised," she replied, and explained the C.R.A.P. Giveaway as simply as she could.

(All the Yummy Mummies in earshot thought this was a wonderful idea, by the way, and now they all want to have millions of my babies.)

The men were just quiet and surly.

"Aw, that's crap," one finally said, craning his neck around. "Where is MM? I want to hear this from his own mouth."

And then Her Lovely Self lowered the boom. I wasn't there because my staff and I were coordinating our annual holiday giveaway efforts. I was meeting a Toys for Tots truck at that very moment (you can't believe the toys that pile up at a magazine in a given year). My assistant was running clothes and shoes over to a women's shelter, and one of my other editors was offloading about 7 shit-loads of books at a free daycare facility.

Now the two guys were just truculent. "So. What? That makes him better than us because we didn't give an Xbox to some welfare case?"

My wife stands about 5-foot-2, but this didn't prevent her from looking down on them both. "Yeah, I guess it does," she answered, smiling her brilliant smile. Then she turned on her heel and walked away from them.

When I finally heard this tale from the Yummy Mummy who witnessed the exchange, I didn't know how to respond. Her Lovely Self never mentioned it to me. And I wasn't quite sure I should blog about it. I mean, we all know I can be ridiculously self-serving, but even I have my limits.

But then I realized this really isn't about me. It's about her. She actually put a couple of pompous asses in their place. And stood up for me in the process. And didn't just stand up for me, but said nice things about the blog, which she never does. Never.

Not in my wildest imaginings would I have thought her capable of it. Shows you what I know after 11 years of marriage.

But that said, I'm not surprised that she didn't tell me about it after the fact.

Because, like I said earlier, my wife's a low-profile kinda gal, you know?

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Dude, that is way awesome.
Hey, I, too fit the description of all-too-subtle put-downs in my youth and a (perhaps) resulting fear of confrontation. I sure hope to rise above that one day like HLS did. Congratulations to her from me for her courage and wit!
But, then, you certainly seem to be a - almost ;) - worthwhile cause to stand up for...
The low-profile kind of girls are the best kind :)

I'm proud of her and happy for you!
Go HLS! What jerks those guys are. I assume they are over 18, but they don't much act like it.
Absolutely brilliant! Way to go, HLS. I hate arrogant pricks like those guys.
MM you got yourself one CLASSY Lady there in HLS! Apparently that rich uncle of hers doesn't need to bring HER to the big city, because she'd shame them all!

Great story. And I am glad she stuck up for you!
Your wife is my new hero. Perhaps she learned from years of being married to you...the art of a subtle but striking putdown. I would like to hope that those two men felt some shame after she so beautifully put them in their place, but I have a sad suspicion that men like that never allow themselves to feel shame and they probably weren't even aware they were being insulted. But we all know and that's what counts!
"They were balloons of pomposity and I was a pin." Brilliant. May I quote you?

Your wife is amazing. Hold on to her, MM... :)
HATE scalpers. Remember when Thomas wanted that one Justice League guy and we couldn't find it because the Target stock boys were hoarding them in the back? I got nothing against collectors or people who really need the money (like me) but that's just taking a toy out of a kid's hands and making a parent (who probably can't afford it anyway) pay more.

By the way, even though you're a dumb shit, I told people about your giveaway and they think it's pretty cool. Remember how Papa used to give people treasures out of his barn. Guy coulda made a mint selling it, but giving it away made him rich another way.

Brrr! What the fuck am I doing? I'm supposed to be giving you shit.

My sister-in-law rules. Hope those shits choke on the money they made.

yr. brother
Just wanted to publicly thank MM for the extremely cool "Christmas Story" figurine I received a couple of days ago, as my share of the crap. It really looks like The Old Man (and his major award) and it plays actual dialogue from the movie when you press a button. Way cool, and even more awesome than I had imagined.

MM paid a decent hunk of change for the postage, too.


(My good deed is forthcoming, and I will write it up [as well as a hack like myself is able] as soon as it is done.)
She rocks!

And yes, good deeds are worth way more than money, whether or not you need it.
So proud of HLS!!! And so happy that she not only recognized what a great thing the C.R.A.P. giveaway was, but also that she told others about it.

I almost feel sorry for you guys, having to share a neighborhood with those jerks.

Nominate Mr. Man, if you so choose.

Oh, and Mr. Man, it would seem you are rubbing off on HLS. If we are lucky, you'll tell of how she has rubbed off on you.

One more thing. My nephew, Arthur, really wanted an Xbox 360, but I didn't have the connections, and the ebay prices were so out of control. Well, let's just say that those men are the reason why I have to practice tolerance.
That's awesome, Good for HLS. I can count on one hand the number of times I have come upon the perfect exchange at the time of the actual exchange rather than 10 minutes later after standing there, jaws agape, drool running down my chin. It sounds like she could teach the hubbys of the yummy mummys AND her own family a thing or two about class, and about the RIGHT way to put jerks in their place!
MM- HLS rules.

Also, I would pay money to read a blog written by your brother. Seriously. Can't you trick him into blogging with a bet of some kind? I'd love to hear the counter perspective on some of your childhood stories.

Hooray for HLS! She looked out for you, and she didn't even brag about it. (I so would've been telling my husband all about it!) She rocks, and so do you.
AllI can say is HLS is to totally my hero today. Give her an "atta girl" from me.

man, I love this place. MM and your family are people I so want to have over to my house one day. If you're ever in Ohio and don't want to stay at the inlawas, consider yourself invited.

Well done!
What Shane said, and I'll say it again: I really like HLS. She doesn't waste her powers on everyday nuisance stuff. She waits, saves it up, until she runs into uber assholes like those two, then she lets 'em have it with both barrels.
Maybe it's less like "a tidal wave of sewage" and more like "water off a ducks back". You go girl.
She clearly has all the class she needs...tell that to her rich uncle!

Now I'm wondering what wonderful HLS stories we'll never hear 'cause she's too low profile to share with you...
It's always cool when other people stand up for you. I imagine it was doubly cool in this case. You've got quite a wife there, MM.
That was awesome.
I think i'm more like HLS and my fiance is more like you...

but your "you put ass in class" made me laugh out loud in the middle of this coffee shop... heh.
HLS might keep a low profile, but she is completely high-class.

There's a reason why your parents adore her so. It's because they know how much she really loves their son.

I would have paid actual money to watch her put those two idiots in their place!
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