By Beth Terrell
Okay, I'll admit it: I'm missing the domestic goddess gene.
This week, my project has been cleaning out the spare room. Believe me, this is no easy task, because all during the year, whenever I have to clean another room, I throw everything that doesn't have a place into the spare room, and every Christmas, when we have both families coming over for the annual Christmas bash, we have to spend a week getting it in shape for company. My mother says, "If you would do this every week, it wouldn't be such a big job." Well...yeah.
Intellectually, I know that, but when the season is over, and I have to do something with a stack of magazines and unfolded laundry before our friends come over to play role-playing games, where do you suppose I will put them?
Don't get me wrong. I really wish I were a Martha Stewart type; I wish I had the intestinal fortitude to keep a spotless, flawlessly decorated house and cook two hot meals a day for my husband and pack him a nice lunch every day--not PB&J, but something exotic, like a prime rib sandwich with honey mustard sauce on a fresh croissant with a fresh-baked blondie for dessert. And, oh yes, with an elegantly penned love note tucked into his lunch cooler. I really wish I were that woman.
Fortunately for me, my husband, Mike, is perfect. (I use my grandmother's definition of "perfect"--nothing worth complaining about.) He is a morning person who tolerates a night-owl who stays up past midnight trying to find just the right words. In fact, he gets up early to take out the dogs so I can get a few extra minutes of sleep. He loves it when I cook but is perfectly content with a bologna sandwich. When it's raining, he braves the elements and brings the van to the door so I don't have to get so wet. When I need help with my computer, he knows exactly what to do and, if necessary, will spend hours getting everything to work right. (Did I mention he's a genius?) He is handsome and longsuffering and dear, and I thank God every day for him.
Once, during a book club discussion of my character, Nashville P.I. Jared McKean, a reader asked me, "Does your husband ever get jealous of Jared?"
"My husband is Jared," I said. Much hilarity ensued, since the group, which was made up largely of women, had been discussing Jared's eligibility and whether or not he might have a single brother I could hook them up with.
Of course, Mike is not Jared, not entirely. Jared is much more flawed. His world is darker and more violent than ours, and his strengths and vulnerabilities reflect that. He is a lover of horses, which Mike can take or leave, and while Mike has never worked in law enforcement, Jared's character was shaped by years on the police force. There are many differences between them.
But Jared's basic decency, his stalwart loyalty, his devotion to his family, his compassion for his animals...those are qualities he shares with my husband. Did I deliberately model Jared on Mike? No, but there is no denying that much of my understanding of what "a good man is" comes from knowing and living with Mike. Jared is a flawed hero, but like my husband, to me he will always be "perfect."
As for me, I'm a long way from perfect, but maybe next year, I can at least keep the spare room clean. Hope springs eternal.