Inheriting New Year’s Resolutions

Fat ElvisThere’s no such thing as a pet that belongs to only the husband or wife.

If your wife’s Anatolian Shepherd starts whining at 3am while she’s out of town, you’ll still roll out of bed and go check on her.

When you discover that Cupcake has vomited blood, you’re not going to think, “Not my dog, not my problem.” A visit to the 24/7 vet emergency room and a bill for $736.52 will strip you of your self-deception, and you’ll accept the truth: Whether you like it or not, Cupcake is your dog too.

New Year’s Resolutions work the same way. Your husband’s New Year’s Resolutions are your New Year’s Resolutions. If he begins Mission Simplicity by selling his old golf clubs, cds, and vintage Ray-Ban sunglasses from college, it’s only a matter of time before he starts asking why you keep your fine china if you never use it, why is the exercise bike taking up space in the bonus room if you started walking instead, and why don’t you let him sell those vinyl records and touring bikes in the garage.

Pretty soon, he’ll start making casual remarks about your Barbie collection [shiver], and aren’t those worth a lot of money? “We should sell them and use the money to go on a cruise.”

Nothing will be safe—not your grandmother’s Royal typewriter, not the pearl necklace that you got as a graduation present from high school, and especially not your collection of old tin Coca-Cola and John Deere signs.

Your husband has been watching American Pickers and has become convinced that he such “nostalgia pieces”—when did he start using the term “nostalgia pieces”?—could fetch a good price.

When did he start using the word “fetch” without a dog around?

By marital association, you just got a new “puppy.” You’d better hide the things you don’t want chewed.

Men, your guts aren’t safe either. If your wife resolves to eat better and exercise more in the New Year and signs up for a YMCA family membership, she’ll come for you. She’ll walk over to the television, turn it off, and ask sweetly, “Honey, why don’t you go with me to Zumba tonight?”

Consider Mike’s plight.

Mike’s wife’s friends have been raving for months about yoga and Zumba classes at the YMCA. Putting on Spanx and a sports bra to sweat like hotdog in a campfire wasn’t Mike’s idea of fun, but then again he didn’t much care for chicken salad croissants and spa days. A massage was okay.

Mike knew that men and women had their differences, but he wasn’t the sort of man to believe stereotypes about a “woman’s work.” He thought that was insensitive, not to mention inaccurate. Yes, the garage was his domain and Carolyn did pretty much whatever she wanted with the rest of the house, and yes, Mike did more of the yard work and Carolyn, more of the cooking.

Though Mike couldn’t say that he loved toile or cared about duvet covers and dust ruffles, he could say that the house was much more comfortable and smelled much nicer than if he had been the one in charge of “nesting.”

In fact, that word “nesting” appealed to him about as much as plucking nose hairs, exercising in Spanx, or Nicholas Sparks’s emotional pornography. He could think of few things that mattered less to him than the color scheme in the kitchen, but if it mattered to his wife, it mattered to him. He always did his best to muster enthusiasm for the Stormy Sky Slate versus Quiet Sunset Steel repainting dilemma.

But he and Carolyn also defied certain stereotypes. Mike played piano and took occasional parts at the community theater. Carolyn loved baseball and grilled excellent steaks. Both had their individual interests and responsibilities, and other than an occasional spat about who ate more of the bleu cheese-stuffed olives or whose turn it was to scrub the toilets, they enjoyed their marriage. Carolyn’s New Year’s Resolution blindsided him.

“Honey, you know how I said I wanted to love fifteen pounds this year?”

He did remember. He’d been pleased at the prospect.

“Well, I’ve been thinking about it….”

Uh-oh. He knew what that meant.

“And I want us both to get in better shape. I signed us up at the Y.”

He leaned forward in his red leather armchair to plead his case.

“And I want you to keep an open mind and at least give it a try. We can go after work before dinner, and they have those free yoga and Zumba classes.”

Translation: Happy New Year. You’re fat, and I worry about your cholesterol.

He knew that wasn’t what she meant, but his nose wrinkled just at the thought of grease, metal, sweat, and the lemony overtone of cleaning products. The YMCA smelled like a dirty teenager in a clean kitchen.

He had been thinking about getting in better shape this year, but he’d just sold his bike on eBay. He’d used the money to get an Xbox, which he was going to hook up to the HDMI so that they could stream movies off their Netflix account and not bother with Redbox or Blockbuster. This was all part of Mission Simplicity.

Stupid decision. Now he had no escape route. Men looked vulgar in Spandex. Their junk was smushed, clustered, and on display for everyone to see, like a black melted sand castle suspended in midair. Unless they were long-distance cyclists and avoiding chafing, which was always a manly decision, men had no business showing their business.

This was going to take some undoing. His first act of counterterrorism would be to find an Elvis jumpsuit with rhinestones, and his second would be to procure a gold chain. He had been only three credit hours away from a Drama minor in college. He could beat his wife at her own game. Mission Simplicity had just become Mission Uxorial Mortification.

Have you ever inherited any New Year’s Resolutions?

I’d love to hear about them.

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