Taking It Home to Wifey, Whatever That Means
Five years ago, I got married for the first time at age 51.
I immediately began to use a wide variety of marital language I borrowed from the men of my father's generation.
I said "the old ball and chain" and "my better half." If one of my friends saw me alone in a bar, I told him I, "got a pass for the night."
My wife found it funny, something that may not have been possible for a woman of less self-confidence.
And "wifey." I say "wifey" all the time.
And last week, I'm in one of those chain drugstores and I'm buying her some sort of face cream potion, the name of which is written carefully on a scrap of paper in my wallet, and I pick up a bag of miniature Milky Ways (it is almost Halloween) and a small, fuzzy mouse-shaped toy for our cat.
And I get to the register and the clerk, who is perhaps 22, is ringing up my purchases, and I say, "The face cream is for wifey."
Why do I tell the clerk this? I think it's because I have an old school masculine need to assure the clerk that I am not, in fact, buying the face cream for myself. The first time a woman sent me out to buy tampons, I also bought a half-dozen cigars and a boxing magazine, just so the woman ringing me up would know I was too masculine to be buying the tampons for myself.
Hearing me say the face cream is for "wifey," the clerk, who has a kitty paw print tattooed on her neck, looks at me and says, "Oh, do you want me to put that in a separate bag?"
"Why?" I said.
"Well, in case you have you bring it to her somewhere," she says.
"Naah," I say. "I have one of those old-fashioned wifeys. She lives right in the house with me."
I hold up my left hand, on which gleams a plain gold band.
I knew what the clerk meant. Where I live, hip-hop culture is strong and young men often use "wifey" to mean the girl with whom they live, the girl they're seeing regularly. Young women use the term, too, often with great pride.
Hip-hop or not, it's an old song. Young men will say anything to keep a girl in their bed at least a couple of nights a week, and young women will make a marriage out of anything, the way a bird will make a nest from pieces of paper and fluttering bits of leaves.
You can lie with language, but language will always force you into truth.
As for me, I'm gonna switch back to "the old ball and chain."
It sounds more committed than "wifey."
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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