Few movies show the tension between spouses over the slightly demented spouse who is the risk taker. Especially when the risk taking is over the top. Like let’s spend the retirement money on this, honey.
Seems to me every relationship has the risk taker and the safety maker. One wants to hide money under the mattress in case something goes wrong and the other is stuffing their pockets with money to find a way to risk it.
I’ll be happy to point out where safety-makers have it wrong since I’m a risk taker. People who want safety often want to make their homes into temples with shrines in the form of a mauve leather couch, some variant of white for elegant chairs, way too many add-color-to-the-room karate chopped pillows in horizontal stacks, the necessary low table burdened by 100 pound beveled glass, and the god of the shrine: a flat screen creeping up half the wall. Like that isn’t a cluster expense that’s a great risk to the wallet. Not to mention the ill-effect of glowing diodes which comprise the god. Which could be unsafe for the safety maker.
And is my wife a safety-maker? Yes and no, but mostly Yes. She certainly isn’t like the wife who was half-asleep in the movie “Field of Dreams.” Can you imagine being in her place. Husband reveals dream about a field where dead baseball greats will have a game. If you build it they will come. And what does she do? She falls into his arms and says Yes dear, I’m behind you all the way. I know the mortgage guy is coming over to take the farm but go ahead, get the tractor out and clear the field so I can make you dinner every night and support you in all you do because I’m that midwestern farm wife who makes red gelatin that jiggles when you bump the side of the bowl, on which a white froth created in the likeness of whip cream which has more ingredients, some of which you can’t pronounce, than in a pharmaceutical drug gone bad. And celery floating motionless in the strawberry gelatin. The perfect way to make a gelatin as repulsive as mosquito repellant.
My wife is not half-asleep. She’s more like the wife of the artist Muniz who argued with her over his great idea to go into the largest garbage dump on Earth, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to have the garbage pickers replicate works of art using objects found in garbage. I can’t remember exactly why she was vehemently reactive to his fabulous garbage idea, but I do know that she made excellent points. And he should have listened to her, but he went on to pursue his idea finding out that Yeah her intuition proved to be, in part, right.
Which is the problem with risk. Whatever the idea is, once realized, it never comes out clean. It comes out like a knife stuck into a half-baked cake: the knife gets a little messy because risk-taking ideas are often half-baked.
Which takes me to how my spouse reacted to the idea that I would see to it that a film be made called How to Fall Out of Love using only actors who are from that world in which people experience homelessness. I’ve told her about other ideas I had in the past, often at a table with other people present before she’s heard even a single thing about it, because I’m terrified to tell her about an idea. I’m afraid she’ll cut it to pieces like she’s done in the past—and I should add for good reasons–and I’ll lose any steam I’ve built up inside my head.
She’s really no different than most. For risk-takers whose brains are racked with an explosion of ideas, equally implosive are reactions from most people. In a desire to be helpful, they point out everything that can go wrong, or they let you know about people you should talk to. When you first find yourself as a risk taker who’s revealed their idea at the receiving end of “helpfulness,” you think they’re challenging you. They’re questioning your abilities, your talent. But over time you recognize that, yeah, that might be part of it, but the greater part is the human tendency is to rush headlong to safety. And to hold the risk-taker’s hand to lead them toward greener pastures with moo cows and dark, Y-shaped birds against a blue sky. Relax. Do some Yoga.
For my wife, this time, I committed to letting her know my idea before I let cat out of the bag. Well, before I let the cat of the bag when at a restaurant with friends to casually interject my idea into a completely different topic of conversation. So I plan a date to go out. And she says to me, I was just thinking we should go out.
Great sign. My thumbs are up. Must mean the conversation will go well. We go to an Indian restaurant because I love vindaloo. I love it so much I want to make a song about it where vindaloo is repeated ad naseum. And it rhymes with lots of things. Vindaloo, Mary Lou, me too, a room with a view, Timbuktu, how about you.
We sit down and she takes the risk with her meal by ordering something she’s never ordered before. I safely order Vindaloo. Another good sign.
After I get that oversized Indian beer and half is gone I start with a quote from Pope Francis about how our lives are a mission. And go into how I see my life as a mission to do what I can regarding getting work for street survivors. Anticipating the worst, I include the fact that *ahem* I have talked about my idea with two people who are solidly behind my idea. Two people she respects.
I waited for a response once she had patiently listened without interfering. I’m waiting while finding myself gripping the table with my right hand. She says, At least you’re getting help this time. Before it was always I’m doing this all by myself.
At about this moment, if I could have expressed myself the way I wanted to, I would have stood, jumped up and down, kissed everyone in the restaurant, danced with the children and then carried my wife in her chair like at Jewish weddings except that her terror would erupt in plaintive screams to put her down. Anyway my energy notches down at the end of the day and, hey, I’m in Minnesota where facial expressions of anything but placid are forbidden. But you can laugh or smile.
So the only thing left—now–is to see if the faith I have in this undertaking is rewarded by perseverance. Perseverance. Something often lacking in risk-takers, and something I believe the safety-makers know a lot more about.