Most of you are probably too young to remember the book Fascinating Womanhood. My generation talked about whether it had merit–and I will admit, often mocked it. My grandmother owned the book, and when she passed away and our family was going through her things, my mother asked me if I wanted it.
I remember reading passages of Fascinating Womanhood out loud to my husband. The two of us snickered over the advice. Because part of the advice seemed to be–and I’m paraphrasing from my clearly faulty memory–pretend that your husband is smarter/more competent/can do something better than you, so he knows that you need him. Men, the book assured us, needed to be needed. If they knew women could do everything on their own, men would feel emasculated. The book suggested that women pretend to be helpless every once in awhile. That’s how you became a fascinating woman.
The book also suggested that you choose cute nicknames for your husband to make him feel manly. The one I remembered is, “You Old Bear”. I have called my husband this off and on through our twenty nine years of marriage as a joke. Because, you know, we both know that we women of the modern generation don’t have to pretend helplessness to make our men feel secure in their manhood.
Fast forward twenty nine years: My laptop cord was dying so my husband just bought me a new laptop. (He was automatically assigned this task, because I know nothing about technology and he is an electrical engineer.) He patiently taught me how to use the features and transferred over my files.
The next day he asked me why I hadn’t used my new computer. I told him that I hadn’t been able to find the power button. (He never showed me where it was in his tutorial and all of my other power buttons have been in the top left hand corner of the keyboard. This one was hidden on the side of laptop.) He showed it to me.
The next day he asked me why I still hadn’t used my new laptop. I told him that since I’d written new pages on my old computer and didn’t know how to transfer the file to the new laptop, I had to keep using the old one until he transferred them over. Dutifully, he transferred over my new stuff.
Then I went with him on a business trip so I could write undisturbed in the hotel. He brought in a monitor from work so I wouldn’t hurt my neck looking down at my laptop while I wrote. I tried to use it, but when I plugged the cord into the monitor, it didn’t seem to work. I figured we’d bought the wrong cord for this monitor, because the little prong thingies (yes, that’s their technical name) didn’t seem to fit.
When my husband came back to the hotel room, I told him, “The cord didn’t work. Even after I plugged it in, the monitor screen stayed blank.”
He looked at me and said, “Please tell me that you turned the monitor on.”
Um, actually I had thought the monitor was already turned on. I mean, the one at home is always turned on. My husband hit the power button on the monitor and then the cord worked. My husband chuckled to himself about my lack of techno ability, but wisely didn’t say anything.
And that’s when I realized that despite my intentions to do otherwise, I had become a Fascinating Woman. I need my husband’s technology savvy on a weekly, if not daily basis.
I’m going to pretend that I believed the book all those years ago, and this helplessness of mine was totally planned–in fact calculated, to make him feel manly and help our marriage stay strong. Yep. So if your reading this dear, I have one thing to say to you, “You’ll always be my Old Bear.”