76: Married to a Metrosexual

76: Married to a Metrosexual

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love

Married to a Metrosexual

We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.

~Agnes Repplier

I still remember vividly my first date with my husband. He showed up on my doorstep wearing a black silk suit with elegant lace-up shoes and took me to see a jazz pianist. Before that, I’d mostly dated sloppy, preppy types clad in faded Izod shirts, whose musical tastes ran to Dire Straits and Warren Zevon. So it was a bit of an adjustment to be seen with a man who openly sported a thumb ring and was known to purchase the odd facial product.

Over time, however (fifteen years to be precise), I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m married to a metrosexual. But it hasn’t been easy.

Take a recent incident in a sporting goods store. We were on a trip back to New Jersey from our current home in London when my husband decided to buy himself a new outfit for power yoga.

“What do you think?” he asked the proprietor, emerging from the dressing room in a pair of form-fitting yoga pants.

The small, muscular man looked away awkwardly. “I… um… I think those are meant for… the, uh… ladies.”

Even my otherwise soigné husband felt sufficiently chagrined that he opted for the less well-fitting Men’s Medium over said Women’s Large. But not without second-guessing himself the entire next week.

“They did fit better,” he kept insisting.

“Was it the panty-liner that got you?” I wanted to ask.

According to Wikipedia, “metrosexual” is “…a neologism generally applied to heterosexual men with a strong concern for their appearance, or whose lifestyle displays attributes stereotypically seen among gay men.” In the self-editing spirit of Wikipedia, allow me to offer some empirical data to flesh this definition out.

First: “a strong concern for their appearance.” Absolutely. At one point, back when we lived in Chicago, my husband even had a personal shopper. This man—I think his name was Oscar—would leave messages for my husband inviting him to “Men’s Night” at the local Marshall Field’s. He’d invariably come home with all these tight-fitting ribbed sweaters à la Will of Will and Grace (prompting me to question whether Oscar’s interest in my husband’s look was entirely commercial). And, yes, in case you’re wondering, my husband has experimented with cologne (he didn’t inhale).

The second defining element of the metrosexual is a taste for the finer things in life. The first time they met, my husband described the wine as “grassy” to my father (who grew up in Newark and was thus more familiar with Pabst than Pinot Noir). More recently, when we were trying to remember the name of a certain chocolatier in Paris, my husband told me to go into his Outlook folder and search for the “Dark Chocolate” entry. It goes without saying that we only drink espresso in our home. Indeed, we’ve been together so long that it didn’t strike me as odd when he recently e-mailed me a video about the optimal way to froth milk. And did I mention the yoga?

Finally, the metrosexual has an avowed fondness for gadgets. The $1,200 espresso machine and matching grinder are perhaps the most visible expression of this trait in our home. But my husband is forever reading catalogs from places like Levenger’s, rendering us the proud owners of (to list a few): that magical thing that holds your bagel in place while you slice it in half… that essential stand that props your newspaper up so you can read one column at a time… and that miniature razor blade that cuts newspaper clippings without having to use scissors. While emptying our suitcases after our recent forage through Target, I was not at all surprised to discover a device that doubled as an avocado scooper and slicer. Because you never know when you’ll need one of those….

To be sure, there are some advantages to having a husband who isn’t—in the vernacular of my adopted country—terribly “blokeish.” For starters, I have my very own live-in fashion consultant. My husband’s well-honed Euro-sensibilities mean that whatever I’m wearing is also subject to his critical eye: “You really shouldn’t do high-waisted,” he’ll observe as I come downstairs in a pair of shorts that extends a centimeter above my navel. Or “Oh no! Eggplant is definitely not your color.” And though I’m often loathe to admit it, he’s invariably right. I think I’m the only woman I know who’s shopped for bras with her husband. (The owner of the bra shop thought he was a pervert, but no matter….)

Second, I’ve also picked up some really useful skills along the way. Formerly a Mr. Coffee kind of gal, I can now tamp an espresso with the best of them. In a city like London, where a cappuccino can easily set you back five bucks, it’s highly cost-effective to be able to rival the best brews on High Street. And how many people do you know who can scoop and slice an avocado in one seamless gesture?

Finally, what other guy would be willing to watch all those Merchant and Ivory films with me?

Mostly, however, I revel in the nuances that my husband’s unabashed metrosexuality affords. Jung famously suggested that all men harbor an inner feminine figure in their unconscious. I like to think that my children benefit from having a dad who’s more in touch than the average Joe with his inner Josephine. My son, in particular, knows that it’s okay to play the violin and enjoy museums, and that you don’t have to give up those interests just because you also like soccer. And in a world where we make all sorts of gender-based stereotypes—some with profound consequences for public policy—I’m proud to have a husband who defies easy labeling. Finally, how cool is it that more than a decade into our marriage—yoga pants notwithstanding—I still find myself agreeing with the gay office intern who once confided to me that my husband was “hot”?

Would you care for an espresso?

~Delia Lloyd


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