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Almost Perfect

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Hugh O'Neil
Redbook Magazine Logo
One husband learns he's not the stuff his wife's fantasies are made of. Will his pride (and their marriage) survive?

My wife and I were in bed one night, watching folksinger James Taylor on the tube, when my world was changed forever. "Now, he's my type," Jody purred hungrily.

"Pardon me, doll?" I said, sure I'd heard her wrong.

"He's my type," she repeated, suddenly aware of what she'd said and how she'd said it.

"Your type?" I croaked.

"Yeah, you know, all tall and lanky," she effused, trying to act as though this was something we'd both known forever. "I'm a sucker for a tall drinka water."

I wondered two things: when exactly my wife had turned into Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke, and whether I'd be able to draw breath again anytime soon.

Who says marriages have no surprises? Twenty-five years into mine, I had just been poleaxed with a revelation. First, the bad news: There is a class of tall, gangly men to whom my wife is, at some creature level, attracted. Then, the worse news: At 5 feet 10 inches, 185 pounds, I am nobody's tall drinka water. Turns out, I am not my wife's type.

Over the next few days, I tried to convince myself that it didn't matter that Jody's then 19-year-old blood had not quickened the instant I first walked into frame. After all, we had a history, two children, and a flourishing partnership. Wasn't all that more important than my childish notion that we should be each other's physical ideal?

Then, for a while, I imagined I could become her type. In search of stature, I hitched my pants up an inch or two. Chafing ensued. I tried to shamble, in a sort of James Taylor-esque way. But at my height, it came across as more of a slither.

Soon, my disappointment turned into a taste for payback. One night, when we were working on the New York Times crossword puzzle, I pointed to a lingerie-clad woman on the adjacent page. "Now, she's my type," I said.

"What's a five-letter word for 'give me a break'?" Jody said. "I'm your type.

"Well, yes, of course, dear. I just couldn't help noticing that this woman in the aubergine undies is attractive too. Don't you think she's lovely?" Jody just laughed.

"Mmmmmm," I enthused, two days later, at a Beyoncé video. I tried to sound hungry.

"Are you trying to say Beyoncé is your type?" Jody asked.

"Oh, no," I said with James Taylor–ish innocence. "But she's nice-looking, isn't she?"

"Jimmy Stewart in The Philadelphia Story," she said simply.

"Pardon me?"

"Tommy Tune," she added.

"What are you talking about?" I said, perfectly aware that she was naming all the tall drinksa water who, unlike me, made her glad she was a woman.

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