Thursday, October 8, 2009

Crouching Writer, Hidden Dragon (yes, China & Japan are two different places)

My loving wife does not want me to have a sword.

This might not seem important but bear with me.

I’ve wanted—-no, needed; verbs create reality—-needed a sword since long before the stupid ‘Highlander’ movies. I go all the way back to Kurosawa and the Seven Samurai, dammit, establishing for the jury a rich cultural history behind my image of racing through the house like stealth itself, sword poised. Notice we stop at poised. Generally you have to add “to strike” to use poised in the manly protector predicate sense. Any other infinitive is basically a sissy. But to end with the simple declaration ‘poised’ suggests the calm Zen of an ancient. Nobody necessarily needs to strike to be effective. This isn’t quite ‘talk softly and carry a big stick’ because usually the entire point of that saying is the stick. Poised with a sword, however, suggests an artistry of potential a thuggish stick will never attain. And we’re not talking the brutish flat sword or prissy rapier. No, the sword I need is straight up Ninja.

Can a brother get a Masamune?

A simple Samurai sword. They sell them in the malls now, usually made in China and sold by Koreans, but the cool isn’t diminished one bit. The wife has seen a Lifetime Network movie or two. She likely imagines me going crazy enough one bland, normal day to go running the streets with tube socks tied sumo-style up my butt and maniacally holding onto a sword, flailing my arms madly but maintaining my grip even as the police tazer me; to her the one thing the news crews would focus on is that sword raising the embarrassing question of what kind of woman would let a man be stupid enough to own an actual sword. (The Lifetime Network is to women’s best interests what Hannibal Lecter is to a community potluck.) Cable TV has taught women that no matter how normal and loving one’s husband pretends to be, he will eventually nut up and drag one through months of scorn and shame until one takes a kick-boxing class to reclaim one’s womanhood. My wife won’t even consider the benefits of me with a sword; all she sees is a montage of difficult to triumphant kick boxing lessons.

The wife, for everybody out there, ain’t tryin’ to sweat.

She mostly argues, “You don’t need a sword.” Ok. I’ll give her that. But conversely, does she need to pay a shameless, able-bodied human being to wash her hair? The ‘Wash, Condition, Blowdry’ is the most evil thing perpetrated upon the male psyche. She will tell me she’s paying somebody $30 to do her hair. I’m thinking ‘Ok, styling takes time; she’s going to come home with the sensuous mane of Venus and we’ll make mad love and her hair will sing at being tousled and whip itself back into shape with one fling of her head. 30 bucks ain’t bad.’

But she actually admitted to me that it’s just a wash, condition, and drying. My brain sparked and smoke came out my ear. I’m temporarily unable to understand my place in the world. I don’t think the Code permits that kind of bald-faced feminine admission while the woman is clothed. Nevertheless, the damage is done and the genie is now that jobless relative who decides to move in with you.

There is no going back; I now know why the boothed shampooer sings.

I’m thinking she’s obviously left something out. Probably the scalp massage. A long scalp massage with warm oils while being served cool drinks would round a wash, condition and drying to $30.

Pretty quickly, though, I was standing there with smoke coming out both my ears.

“You don’t need to 'get your hair done,'” I countered. “I’d wash your hair for 10 bucks.” I’d done it for free on quite a few occasions (dating and trothed, but I don’t point this out to her). All those free washes, I could’ve made enough money to buy my own sword. All the birthdays and Christmases and shoveling dead birds from the yard—not a single hint of a sword. But she’d given good wages away to someone to wash her hair, dry her hair, and smugly call next, something she’s performed on her own in our very own kitchen sink.

We were smart enough to be together long enough to actually practice love. 16 years total. Married 10. I let her know early on that I was a man who wanted a sword—that’s not the kind of thing you want to let come up unaddressed. Early on she just gave me that coquettish look that said ‘Dummy, I rule you’ and I smiled because, well, it was true. Birds fly, women rule, shit happens. A benevolent ruler, though, knows to provide for the masses. A gifted sword is much better than one I buy myself, for it implies assent to my righteousness. Best a man simply be patient.

Got married. Anniversaries came and anniversaries went, but not one sign of a sword. This year’s, the 10th anniversary, is a big one; I figure the fruition of years of patience is at hand. I don’t make an issue out of it. I just casually say I think I should get a sword this year. Hell, we’re thinking about redecorating. A sword hanging on a wall automatically makes everybody in its vicinity classy.

Coquettes shouldn’t snort when they laugh.

I’ve guaranteed her the last thing I would do if I nutted up would be grabbing the family sword. I would drive the car through the living room then ask her for butter. BUT SHE’S GOT NO PROBLEM WITH ME DRIVING TO WORK EVERYDAY!

So I’ve recently realized: it’s financial. You can’t make money with a sword. It’s useless during interviews and since I’ve never been permitted the opportunity to study under wizened blade masters, having one doesn’t lend itself to any particular skill sets. A man with a sword just isn’t marketable.

Why do women think cool has to be marketed?

Picture please: 3 feet 8 inches long from tip to leather-wrapped hilt, silvery metal perfectly balanced and the entire shape of it so symmetrical as to be organic. No, I did not say phallic! Primitives. It doesn’t extend from the hand, it is the hand. This is God-given precision. It’s a paint brush that performs in the very air with crisp slices and whirls.

As you picture this, please picture me with split-toed ninja shoes.

My 11 year old niece and I—since she was very small—have a Christmas tradition of battling mightily in the basement with the empty wrapping tubes, attacking one another until the cardboard swords rip to shreds. Imagine transforming that tradition into me actually teaching her Whirling Dragon or the forbidden Who Dat technique. We are depriving this child of a cultural heritage!

Loving Wife asks, “What would you do with a sword?” I would stare at it in awe for hours, hello? Don’t be obtuse. I would slowly unsheathe it just to hear it click back into its wooden sheath. I would be eyes in the darkness.

I would quite effectively be the coolest I have ever been in my entire glorious life.


Talk about admission.

Psychological laying bare.

Wife doesn’t realize the sword frees me to be an empathetic, emotional, in-touch man.

I just want to be loved. Wow.

And if I can somehow manage to slice the branches off a tree quicker than the branch has a chance to fall…that’s just cool times two.

All I want is to be a better man. Now what’s more important than that?

Happy Anniversary, Baby.

Thank you.

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