There’s an element to what happened yesterday that sounds so stereotypically wannabe-FLR, that it makes me somewhat embarrassed to even write it down (I’m reminded of Dev’s comment about hard-ons and holding a purse in a shoe store, but I’m trying to keep it out of mind). It was all very subtle and most observers might not even notice anything, but it was there: Belle Fille stretched her dominant muscles ever so slightly – and in front of other people, no less.
It was another Sunday dinner at the in-law’s (Belle’s mom, dad, sister, her husband, their baby and dog, but only one of our kids as the other’s at camp). These used to happen almost every weekend, but in recent years they’ve become less frequent. Where each person sits at the table and what role they play in preparation, consumption, and clean-up of the meal is well-established. Short story, mother-in-law does most of the work, freaks out that everyone’s got enough to eat (Augustus Gloop’s mother would be proud), and then everyone without a Y chromosome cleans up while those who do have one tend to sit around and shoot the shit until it’s time to go. This is how it’s worked for years.
And it was pretty standard fare through much of dinner1 until my mother-in-law went to get dessert from the kitchen (key lime pie and vanilla ice cream or root beer floats – river of chocolate reserved for special occasions).
“Why don’t you get up and help her,” Belle Fille asked me with the tone of a statement, not a question. She looked me directly in the eye and, gently yet firmly, was obviously giving me an order.
“OK,” I replied and hopped up. This never happens. I never get up during dinner since, as I said before, the roles and expectations are all set. And her “asking” me to help was also very out of character. I felt somewhat self-conscious as I left my place at the opposite end of the table from my father-in-law and went to get the pie.
Later, after the pie, we were all sitting there talking, except for the the mother-in-law who was clearing the table. “Why don’t you let [Thumper] finish clearing this,” she suggested.
“OK,” I replied and hopped up. Except this time, so did everyone else so my task was minimal.
Typically, as the dishes are being done, the menfolk go and discuss politics or sports or some other manly topic. No exception last night. We were on the deck enjoying the beautiful early evening when Belle came to the sliding screen door and told me to come inside and dry the dishes.
“OK,” I replied and hopped up. The other menfolk exchanged glances. There was a disturbance in the Force.
The drying duty was given to me because my sister-in-law had to prepare a bottle for the baby. Once that was done, she came back in the kitchen to relieve me.
“OK, you can go back to being a man now,” she said as she took my towel. Ouch.
Back on the deck, the brother-in-law said, “Have you been released from service?”
“Sorta,” I replied.
Finally, later on, I came out onto the deck to find Belle already out there talking to my brother-in-law. He offered me a chair next to him, but Belle said, “No, why don’t you sit across from me. That way, you can massage my feet.”
“OK,” I replied and hopped…down…into the chair. She put her feet up into my lap, pressing down with them onto the device, and I started to massage them while she continued her conversation with my brother-in-law.
I can hear some of you. You’re saying, “So she kept you from being a piggish manbeast? That’s it?!” and, yeah, I see your point. My point is Belle’s had a thing about finding opportunities for me to provide her service. Not only was she actively looking for these, she did it in front of her family. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is something like this, what Belle did was about a 2, but it was a start. A really good start. I hope to see her become more comfortable with her position as time goes on.
Later, back at the ranch, it was more foot massage followed by back massage followed by face massage (something I didn’t even know was a thing). She went to sleep supremely relaxed while I was left hot and sweaty from the effort…and, you know, all the touching.