Hypothetical Husband Joe and the Flaming Penis

Posted By on August 26, 2010

Meema closed up her plastic portfolio and gave me a satisfied look.

“So that’s how I manage my finances!”

Not that I should be one to turn down financial advice, but for the past 45 minutes, Meem had been showing me her detailed personal balance sheet in pencil and how the figures perfectly corresponded with crisp bills encased in her Staples plastic portfolio with different sections neatly labeled “Mortgage”, “Groceries”, “Ralph Cramdon’s Vet Bills” and “Mad Money!”

“Okay”, she said exasperatedly “let’s go downstairs and chat about something else.” Her eyes got shifty.

Fuck! I knew she didn’t lure me over here on Mother’s Day to discuss accounting.

Ever so slowly we made our way downstairs and she sat me down on what was once an upholstered dining room chair but was now a throne of matted cat fur. I tried in vain to brush some of it away as she sat across from me and wrung her hands together nervously.

I knew what was coming. This is how she got last time when we had the epic fight about her telling me to follow my (one of 10,000) dreams and go to law school…but to meet men. As she began her opening argument I got to work picking at my split ends to avoid her doey grandma eyes.

“GG, I’m concerned about you. You’re only TWENTY FOUR years old and the attitude you’ve acquired regarding men should be reserved for women long past their mid twenties! I’m afraid for you, that with that kind of attitude, you’re going to wake up an old maid one day, past your prime! Sad and by yourself. I don’t want that for my best girl do I?”

I looked at her with contempt. This coming from the woman who notoriously drove around in a baby blue Buick covered in bumper stickers with slogans like “The next dog in my life will have fur” and “Men – can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em” next to clipart of a handgun.

After ten minutes of useless sighing and eye rolling on my end, she delved into this little intervention tactic that she’d obviously been concocting for quite some time.

“You were always good at school projects, GG. You got good grades and remember that one you did on the elephants with the shoe boxes? And the Skittles solar system – that one was beautiful! I know you always ace your projects when you commit to them but I also know you like to procrastinate. But you have procrastinated for long enough and that is why I am stepping in, out of love, to urge you to begin (and she paused here like she was just then thinking of the name) PROJECT: HUSBAND.”

Without giving me time to object, she outlined the details of Project Husband in a way that would make Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton hog tie her to a flaming penis effigy.

Here is the gist (taken straight from Meema):
If women want to be happy, they need a relationship with a man. They need to marry that man and carry and expel his seed to create more miserable, single women looking to get hitched. For my sake, since I’m a year off of a bad breakup with no prospects in sight, she had to assign a fake name to this husband symbol. She called him: Hypothetical Husband Joe. In order to find H.H.J., a woman must first acknowledge that Joe is alive and well, somewhere in the world. She then compiles a tidy list of qualities that Joe possesses (which she also had prepared – the Meema-speak translation following each descriptor):

Successful – Doctor, lawyer, possessing a career which puts him 3 degrees of separation or less to Oprah or someone in the Kennedy family

Stable – Makes enough to support a grandmother-in-law with a compulsive QVC addiction

Handsome – Wears a 1960’s Navy uniform in present day life, with pride

Funny – Laughs at the story about the time I tried to stop my little sister from being born, every time she tells it (approx 26/yr)

Wholesome – Doesn’t swear, drink, gamble or do any of the other things I enjoy most

Spiritual – Sings obnoxiously loud at Christmas Eve mass, the only time we attend church

Good genes – Can produce lots of fat great grandkids who will also grow up to be doctors, lawyers or Oprah followers

Loyal – Will support me every day of my life after we divorce, because divorce is inevitable

After rattling off the list, she went on to explain how in order to find Joe, with those qualities, I would have to scout around the places Hypothetical Husband Joe would hang out. Find H.H.J’s stomping grounds.

“So, where do you go every weekend?” she asked sarcastically.

I got up and grabbed an ancient hard candy off the piano and pretended to fawn over Ralph, who was lounging all of his 32lbs on her couch and looked more like a baby bear than a Maine Coon. The thing’s still a carnivore, she feeds him squirrels from out back, I swear.

“I SEE YOUR FACEBOOK!” she pointed a finger at me like we were at the Salem Witch Trials.

“I may be the silent stalker and never comment but I see what you do and all of those obscenities your friend Danny writes. He’s a dirty boy too and I don’t like him at all, damned fraternities. You go to BARS! Drinks bars! Sports bars! Casinos! CLUBS! Cigar bars!” she rattled off a list of all of my favorite places with a look of sheer horror on her face.

“Do you think that’s what JOE likes? Do you think JOE is looking for you at Stumble Inn at 4:30 on Saturday morning?”

{I’ll interject here – okay, maybe I won’t meet a Hypothetical Husband Joe at a bar, but I certainly might meet Horny Harry there, which is just as well at this point in my life}

Shit. She was better prepared than I’d thought. Damn you Facebook privacy settings and your infinite changes. I must be starting to look haggard already because she was clearly in go-mode about the operation and had all but whipped out a football chalkboard depicting Manhattan with green circles marking Hypothetical Husband hangouts and big red X’s marking Whore hangouts.

“So what do you think? Are you ready to find Joe?”

I told the actress in myself for my own sake, to nod and pretend to consider it. Somehow she got me to promise to maybe think about some realistic places to find Joe, which I have yet to email back to her for her approval.

The moment I walked in the door, mom took one look at me and asked, “What did she do?” Apparently reaching the tender age of 64 had put Meema on the warpath and she’d done some similar rounds about the family.

“Meema says….I….” my lip quivered. I knew that the talk had just brought up sad thoughts about what I thought my present life would be like a year ago, and being single and pitied by my grandma was not it. Admittedly, I sputtered out the words with a sob “Project HUSBAND! Meema says I need to find Joe now before I’m an old maid and she told me to go to art exhibits to find him but all my friends go to unlimited champagne brunch on the weekend and….and…I hate mennnnn!” I wailed. After some mommy hugs that you never get too old for and one livid phone call between another mother and daughter, I could calm down.

I don’t hate men. I like them quite a lot, actually. They’re good for things like sex, opening cans, killing things that crunch and deciding whether to go over-under on the Giants. I think my real problem with Project Husband (besides being premature) isn’t the project itself but the part where I have to act like Joe, think like Joe, and chill where Joe thinks it’s cool to chill. F that. When I’m ready to find Joe, if he’s not the kind of guy who can accept that I like to procrastinate, smoke cigars and drink cheap vodka and OJ at breakfast then well, maybe he should hit up Meema instead.


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