Monday, June 30, 2008

She Changed Her Name--for This?

On Friday, the girls and I took my father and Peter out to dinner to celebrate Father's Day, which fell a couple of weeks ago. (You know how that goes: My father spent Father's Day with one of my siblings; Peter and I hung out with his brother and his family).

We went to our favorite American restaurant, where tables are covered with linen, and the dress code is casual but definitely neat. I was enjoying a glass of wine when a couple in their early 30s came in with 3-year-old twin girls. The girls were beautiful, long curly-haired things in bright white sandals and matching sundresses. The husband wore a polo shirt and crisp chinos.

The wife? Well, the wife had on a white t-shirt with a logo on it that made her look like a walking rectangle. She'd thrown her hair up into one of those heinous hinged clips.

She looked strikingly out of place next to her family.

If you gave her a second look, you could see she was a good-looking woman. Under the promotional tee, she had a decent figure. But she's about five years from showing up on one of those makeover shows, where women always confess they let themselves go in order to put their husbands and children first.

It's the EBM syndrome: Everybody But Me. It's hard to believe that it remains prevalent in the 21st Century, but I see these its victims everywhere, especially at church.

The result of ceaseless self-sacrifice rarely results in admiration. People say, "Wow. She looks like crap." And people treat people the way they treat themselves. When a woman says "Everybody but me," nobody's going to disagree with her.

Case in point: During the meal, this woman's husband said not one word to her. I did catch him bark a couple of syllables to one of the twins, but for the most part he kept to himself and shoveled food into his mouth (he's a passable dresser, but he has the table manners of a wolverine).

I had to wonder what this woman was thinking when she raided her bank account (or, worse, went into debt) to pay for her dream wedding to this guy. If she'd known she'd end up his ignored servant in a free t-shirt, would she have bothered?


After a while, the twins got restless. The woman stopped eating and allowed them both to sit in her lap, so that her husband could continue his meal undisturbed.

I wanted to slap her.