Am I Still a Man If My Wife Kills All the Bugs?
I’m strong enough to say that my wife protects me from all enemies, foreign and domestic — and those with more than four legs
Let’s start with the (flattering) facts. I am just over six feet tall, I can sprint a mile in under six minutes, and I can bench 225 pounds for six reps before an ambulance needs to be present. I cook, and I cook damn well. I make my wife laugh — real laughter, not humoring-me laughter. I cry during Pixar films. I possess just the right amount of masculine aloofness that makes my wife wonder if I’m getting dumber or if I just pretended to be smart while we were dating.
But when I see a bug? It all disappears. I become Casper the Friendly Ghost, hiding behind curtains and praying for divine intervention. My wife answers my prayers; she handles the unwelcome guests. But I know she’s left wanting as she copes with being married to a man whose masculinity is reduced to antimatter any time an insect is present.
The great thing about not living with your partner before marriage is that you can hide the parts of yourself that would most certainly cause them to reconsider your proposal. My wife didn’t know about my fear of bugs until after we married and moved in together. Now, three years in, be it through grace or grit, she’s still sticking with her man and his entomophobia.
On one unseasonably warm spring evening recently, my wife gathered some belongings from our balcony and left the screen door ajar. When she does this, two things happen: Bugs enter our apartment, and I want to move out of our apartment. And as if on cue, while we were getting ready for bed, an enormous moth emerged from behind my hamper. My wife didn’t notice; she had started to give me CliffsNotes on the latest episode of This is Us. When she turned at the sound of my whimper, though, she saw the dusty dragon furiously flapping its wings as it circled my lamp like an airplane.
“Kill it!” my wife commanded.
As my knees went weak, my wife sprung into action, determined to kill. She grabbed the flip-flop that had failed me the night prior and transformed herself into an assassin.
Confused and scared, I grabbed my flip-flop and swung helplessly at the demon. It maneuvered effortlessly away from me, then flew underneath our bed for an exercise break. My wife looked at me with disgust and went on a recon mission. She grabbed a flashlight and searched under the bed for our new roommate in the hopes of introducing it to its maker. The sortie failed, and she spent the next five minutes muttering about how my poor aim would lead to the first on-record moth-related homicide.
The next evening, the winged beast emerged again — this time from behind my wife’s hamper — and flew around our room with the confidence of a stunt pilot. As my knees went weak, my wife sprung into action, determined to kill. She grabbed the flip-flop that had failed me the night prior and transformed herself into an assassin. She jumped on top of our bed, infrared lasers shooting from her eyes, and put the prey in her crosshairs. With the speed and power of a mercenary, she murdered the moth with a swift flick of her wrist.
Kill shot. The ex-moth dropped onto the carpet. As did my ego. Perched atop our bed, Attila the Hun instructed me, her lowly foot soldier, to clean up the remains.
When we got married, my wife did not imagine that she would have to be the Terminator any time a bug came around. She didn’t expect that something a thousandth the size of her husband could send him into a vegetative state. Yet, in her coolness, she regards my embarrassing fear as comic relief.
That’s my gift. I married a woman who takes something that causes me shame and turns it into something inconsequential. For each bug that enters our life, there is a story that evokes laughter so hard it brings us to tears. So am I a man even though my wife kills the bugs? Yes. I am also a man married to a woman who exalts my compassion, humor, and strength over my laughable flaws. She sees me as the best version of happiness, her safe space, and protector (from all noncrawling things).
Who would have thought that my manhood could be affirmed by the most incredible woman in the world? Not me — but I’m glad that it is so.