13 Things You Should Know About My Husband by Michael Todd Cohen

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Husband will never believe you when you tell him he’s beautiful, but you must keep trying.


He doesn’t go for closing doors. Cabinets, screens, freezers: they will not be closed. You must close them.


Things he opens: emails (occasionally), The New York Times and The New Yorker, podcast episodes of RadioLab, recaps of RuPaul and an etymology show called A Way With Words; Poetry Magazine, pot lids, hearts.


Things he makes: steamed fish tracing paper thin laid over rice with care, spinach salads with duck adorning, 3 a.m. grilled cheese (no questions asked).


Things he eats: snacks (voraciously), after which stomach havoc ensues. Your choices are to say nothing and watch him hurt himself or stop his hand and spiral into a neurotic hole about your fat-shaming tendencies while he sticks out his lower lip toddler-style and slow-motion shimmies away from the ravaged bag of cheddar Goldfish.


He will respond to the nickname “Monkey,” so given because he is curious about absolutely everything and will, without hesitation, try every door handle in a hotel or conference center; especially doors marked “PRIVATE: NO ENTRY,” “Utility Room,” or “Staff Only.”


He comes to life in a wig. On vacations, he will pull them out of the suitcase like found gems and parade to the pool as a new person entirely: “Hostess Twinkie” favors a brunette crop, “Sia Doctor” a blonde bob and “Janice” a tawdry bramble of cherry-red strands. You will watch his abandon with awe. Wigs are not your magic.


Husband will never believe you when you tell him he’s beautiful, but you must keep trying.


There are—it needs to be said—the terrible accents. They begin in Scotland, bend south to Argentina and somehow follow a sharp, unrelenting trajectory into Siberia where they die in a jumble of real and yet-to-be-real words. This will make you laugh each time.


When he is feeling bad, he will not tell you. He will pull himself inside like a periwinkle. To you, he will be all the people you’ve left or lost; mute and mired in the past where you cannot retrieve them. Desperately, you will say: you feel far away. Softly, he will say: I’m sorry. This is because he does not have the words, not because you are not worthy. You will relearn this lesson each time. You will wait out the quiet biting your own tongue.


On your worst days, looking in the mirror together, you’ll compare his blue eyes to your bushy beard and think the pair of you staring back is not quite “Beauty and the Beast” but certainly at least “Beauty and the Bear”. You will groan, squinch up your face and tug at your shoulder hair in disgust. Is this how the world sees us? you will say. This is not a question he or the world will answer.


Once learned, he will use the word embrangled with startling regularity. Who better though, than he, to be embrangled with?

He is a keeper, so you must keep him embrangled.

Keep him well fed. Keep him well-clothed. Keep him well-loved. This, you will tell yourself, is security. It is a form of guarantee that you will have him forever.

This is wrong. To be kept is to be caged and we do not cage husbands here.

Nourish him while he feeds you. Clothe him in equal friendship. Love him with renewing wonder.


Husband will never believe you when you tell him he’s beautiful, but you must keep trying.


Michael Todd Cohen (@mtoddcohen) is a writer and producer living in New York. Work appears or is forthcoming in The Daily Drunk Mag, Barren Magazine, Stone of Madness Press and X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine.

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