My wife

Words as true today as when they were first written

Editor’s note: Anthony Peyton Porter is taking a week off, so we’re reprinting this column—apropos to the Love-Sex-Marriage issue—from April 20, 2006.

I am married. Married am I. As thoroughly hitched as I am, I felt I should say it at least twice.

I’ve had this wife many years, and I see that the two weeks between our first date and our betrothal didn’t allow adequate time for a background check and sufficient observation of her deep-seated imperialistic tendencies. Now the story must be told. My wife is a queen, but she wants to be an empress of the expansionist persuasion.

My sons and I have to be on the alert constantly for incursions into our meager space. At any moment, especially on a Saturday, we could look up from our leisure and espy my wife with that gleam in her eye. It starts mildly, perhaps with, “Is that your pile of stuff?” The pile could be notes for a scholarly treatise, or the scraps of my dear grandmother’s letters from the frontiers of metaphysics—it’s all stuff to my wife.

If a project of hers wants some horizontal space in order to go smoothly, it gets it, no matter what else is going on. My wife’s desires for space are actually requirements. She doesn’t just want the table, she needs the table.

You might think that my family would have continual conflicts around space, but we don’t. That’s because, like any government, my wife has the power of eminent domain, and she knows how to use it.

My wife doesn’t have to need space to commandeer it, though. A while back, the appearance of our youngest son’s room somehow offended her delicate sensibilities. She could have ignored the way his room looked. She could have asked him to change it. She could have just closed the door. Instead, while he was away being indoctrinated at school, innocently thinking his one-room kingdom was secure from foreign interference, she took over, laying waste to his comfy chaos. He came home to a space that looked like an exceptionally neat spare bedroom, just short of doilies and shams.

My wife is an artist, and her environment is part of her expression, so get with the program. I have explained to her that the boys and I approach shifting piles of clothes as a challenge to our catlike grace. She is unimpressed.

In the garden, she has killed whole beds of periwinkle, several ornamental grasses and a globe Artemisia in her quest to plant something else there.

Overall, I don’t think there’s anything my wife likes better than stacking my stuff in the far corner on the floor, thus destroying the subtle elegance of my many smaller piles. We need a bigger house.