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The Domestication Of Joe

By Tom “Cake on the Face” Waters
March 16, 2003

Just this previous September, a wondrous and joyous occasion was observed.  My big brother Joe got married to a girl he was dating for the last five years.  Her name’s Jill (and no, they didn’t go up a hill).  Joe was always quite a wild card (much like his two other brothers) and we knew that the sacred vows of marriage would change him in some form or another.  I just didn’t know that they would transform him so drastically into a submissive, civilized husband.  Those terms may seem profane and disturbing , so please read no further if you find your stomach queasy and your bowels constricted.  The hideous mutation I am about to describe is not for the weak of heart (strap on some Depends undergarments if need be).

It was a stormy day in November, a couple weeks after the honeymoon.  I’d given the Newlyweds plenty of time to settle into their rural home and get comfortable with the idea of being around each other pretty much every waking second of every day for the rest of their lives.  I called the house and a gentleman answered (claiming he was my brother).  I’d asked if I could stay over after work and watch a movie.  To my shock and horror he replied: “That’s fine by me, but LET ME GET PERMISSION.”  Permission!  This from the man who would come home from partying all night with the morning edition!  This from the brother who took my clothes and when questioned would say  “Oh, I borrowed those, you’ll get ‘em back before you move out!”  I knew something had gone horribly wrong so I had to go over to investigate.

That night I came over prepared with a dirty magazine and a cigar (the bachelor’s equivalent of a wooden stake and holy water) hoping that it wasn’t true.  I walked through the door and he HUGGED me (I thought I was ready for anything, but open expression between two guys?  It wiped me out.) and welcomed me in asking (to my revulsion) if I could remove my shoes.  It would take all the spiritual strength of single man-kind to get me through the night in that house alive and polygamous.

 No sooner had I taken off my coat and shoes than I noticed that the two had worked together to cook a complete nutritious meal!  My sense of reality was seriously shaken.  Before the marriage, his refrigerator consisted of half an ice cube tray, beer, and, if you were lucky, ketchup and half an onion.  As I ate my sliced turkey and potatoes warily (chemically testing the food under the dinner table for thorazine or saltpeter), I took further note that the man I knew as a brother was not only directing the food toward his mouth without spilling it all over his shirt but HE WAS USING UTENSILS!  Later, while they were sleeping, I searched the attic, basement, and laundry room in the hopes that I would find my real brother cryogenically frozen or tied to a rack with a ball and gag in his mouth, but to no avail.  I decided to reconvene my search with greater fervor in the morning.

And for the love of God the invasion of the doilies!  It was almost as if, overnight, doilies had sprung up all over the house like some hideous fungus from Martha Stewart’s nose!  The living room was disgusting!  Where furniture and appliances were once scarce (or placed where they wouldn’t be tripped over) was a decor like some photo spread from a trendy New English House and Garden magazine.  While we all watched a movie, my mind screamed “ESCAPE BEFORE THIS LIFESTYLE GETS TO YOU!” but the mammoth teak china cabinet kept me at bay, guarding the exit door.

 I took a shower that night and was attacked by colors of the rainbow that a heterosexual should never be subjected to.  Pink, teal, fuscia, it’s too traumatizing to go on.  There were no hairs in the sink, the seat was up, and the tub was STOCKED TO THE GILLS WITH PERSONAL HAIR CARE PRODUCTS!  Pert and Prell, either being a man’s best shampoo friend, were bumped off in cold blood to be replaced by ridiculously overpriced hybrids boasting “Hypoallergenic!” or “Hydro-Activated!”  I looked under the sink praying that my true brother, having become a contortionist to avoid become whipped, would be in the cabinets.

Before the black peace of sleep came on me I heard a barrage of “Yes, dears.”  I’ve been in the Korean War, I’ve seen an elephant tap dance, and I’ve even babysat for six years, but this was far more unnerving than all three combined on Oprah.  It was time to face facts.  Joe had become (Dum, Dum, DAAAAAH!) domesticated.  Marriage had grabbed a hold of him and turned him into a decent human being.

 Enough of being selfish, though.  Often, when you perceive someone in two-dimensions (i.e. brother, mom, teacher, cop) you don’t get the whole scoop on who they really are.  The way he behaves with his wife is just another facet of his personality.  The wedding ring has sent waves of etiquette throughout his psyche, but that’s just a part of getting older.  I used to think in high school that I’d never get married, live in a cave, and write pretentious novels for the rest of my life.  Now the last two still may hold true, but I’ve seen divorced and lonely old people and they’re a tragic lot.  Let’s face it, none of us want to die alone without a companion who loved us and knew who we really were inside.  I know that I don’t want to die miserable and alone.  The odds for keeping a marriage may be rigged, but I’ll take my chances.  Even if I have to practice saying “Yes, dear” in my car to a marriage instructional cassette. P.S.  Joe and Jill, please remember that this was embellished and depicted in the spirit of parody, and that parody is the best form of flattery, or some such rot. 


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