Editor’s Note: Guest author Catharine Bramkamp is a popular author/award winning poet/ podcaster/ champion of Newbie Writers everywhere. She is a successful writing coach and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, The Future Girls series (Eternal Press) and editor of the Redwood poetry collection, And the Beats Go On. Her new book, Future Gold, just released July 1.
I think of my husband as the Star. Not that he is the sun around which I revolve, he is a star in that sometimes he needs to chill in his own trailer. He is my main man, the community in my property. As the designated Star, he cannot do everything in the movie of our life.
And as the Star, my husband has the option to either do his own stunts or not. He is brilliant as home repairs, landscaping, painting, moving and creating piles of small branches from large trees. But there are a few dangerous activities where he absolutely needs a stunt: road repair and performance art come immediately to mind.
I admire partners who do their own stunts – these brave men and women dress appropriately for the formal wedding of the second cousin, they eschew the final game of pick-any-sport to accompany their life partner to that class in Hindu basket weaving. They are the loyal season ticket holders surreptitiously opening a packet of hard candies during the eleventh trombone solo at the symphony because it gives them something to do. They are the quiet nappers during the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
My own Star husband determined, early on in our marriage, that he was too important to do his own stunts or work beyond his natural tolerances. We needed a double.
Many Stars do.
For instance, you probably signed and dated your contract with the Star before he or she revealed that contrary to a few random and infrequent courting rituals, they don’t really dance. Not even sort of dance. Which means that your loved one was either was very good at subterfuge, or you were drinking too much at the time. No matter. For example, even after carefully editing the wedding video so it looks as if the groom was dancing, but it was really the bride vigorously switching her long skirts around his inert legs, it was clearly hopeless. But, if you were like me, and you liked to dance, but your loved one suddenly developed a trick knee that flared up during the first bars of the Chicken Dance; you need a Stunt.
Back in the day, it used to be crucial to have a date for a wedding, even if you were married and your permanent date was “working”. What many women discovered was the best Stunts are unattached brothers-in-law. The best Stunts in that category are gay brothers-in-law, and when they find their own Stars, the sister in law now has two men to dance with, bonus, they dance divinely and notice your shoes. Most Star husbands look upon this missed opportunity to do the Chicken Dance with great serenity. Saved from certain tragedy on the dance floor, the Star sits on the sidelines, smiles for the photographer and drinks another martini while the stunt double steps in and steps out. Or he happily watches the video later.
Under what I consider false advertising, my current husband once trailed behind me through the Vatican Museum. He made appropriate comments about the collection, admired the Sistine Chapel and I believed it was a day well spent. Thinking this was a promising trend, I hauled him into the Louvre where he lasted just long enough to see both the Mona Lisa and Venus De Milo with the Winged Victory of Samothrace sandwiched between, but that, apparently, was that. In a flash of inspiration, he claimed that he couldn’t possibly walk though the De Young with me for fear of being crushed under a giant Calder. Too dangerous, you must get a Stunt.
But the larger Claes Oldenburg was outside. I must have hesitated and he pounced. Since he was in the zone and thought now would be a good time to continue contract negotiations, he also expressed with the relative height of the balcony seats in the War Memorial Opera house.
“Those seats are pretty high up, he said, “a Star could lose his footing and tumble to his death you know.”
“Yes,” I mused, considering that all the insurances policies were written in my favor, “the Star could tumble to his death. But it would be quick. ”
Did I really want to pay three figures for his nap? I did not. I found a Stunt, in fact, the Stunt Husband expanded into a lovely group of aficionados and we dine before hand and use big words to speak pretentiously about the performance afterwards.
The Stunt walks me to my car, the Star asks, upon my return, “who won?”
Stunt husband offer security and conversation, they are the equivalent of the old-style Geishas. The Star can rest easy that the Stunt has zero interest in whisking his or her partner away to parts unknown and the Star is rewarded with tales of near misses, like sitting through American in Paris on Broadway.
As we age, we tend to acquire people, we find team members to help us negotiate life – a Social Media experts, financial advisors, repair experts, stylists, manicurists, doctors, lawyers, grips, best boys, personal shoppers, why not a few Stunt Partners?
I know what you are thinking, oh it’s fine to be the girl and acquire a group of boys on the side, but what if my Star (a man) wants his own Stunt? It depends on her skills.
Can she cook? We have a few really lovely friends, both attached and unattached that in exchange for the ingredients and too much wine, will create gourmet dinners for both my husband and for me. He plays in the kitchen with someone who knows what end of the knife to use, and I can converse from a safe distance. Perfect.
I don’t camp. I hike, but insist on a lodge environment with a restaurant and massage facilities at the end of the day. My husband is not similarly inclined. He recently discovered that a friend of ours not only liked to hike, she had far more experience doing so than he. She offered to take him to Yosemite. I helped him pack. My only requirement was that she didn’t accidentally lose him over a cliff. Other than that, I was good to go. It was good to be the Star.
I enjoy a wonderful relationship and have been married to the same man for longer than I care to admit. Part of what makes it work is that we are NOT everything to one another. We have different interests and neither ever demanded that the one partner subsume his or her interests in favor of our doing everything together.
The stunt saves wear and tear on the Star by performing dangerous deeds, like risking a chance encounter with a tipsy Henry Moore sculpture and the world premiere of Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz. The Stunt partner can, with alacrity, order the wife from the car and parallel park the damn thing himself without damaging the relationship. The Stunt can comment on weight gain without risking his or her very existence. The Stunt makes sure the wife is returned in one, whole, piece.
A good Stunt ensures that the star relationship will always remain stable and satisfactory. I love my Star Husband, and love that in the family Christmas photo, he matches all the children. But for serious work in the arts – I use the Stunt.
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