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Some hubbies put the 'man' in romantic

Tammy Swift, Columnist

Confession time: I'm sort of jealous of my friend Penelope.

Maybe it's because Penelope has only been married a year, when life is all bedazzled unicorns and love notes with little hearts dotting the "i's." But every once in a while, she'll tell me a story about her husband, "Melvin," which will make me wonder if he attended some sort of special Intensive Boot Camp for the Systematic Destruction of Bachelors and Subsequent Formation of Ideal, Attentive Husbands.

Melvin routinely cooks and cleans the house. He puts the "man" in romantic. He asks her what channel she'd like to watch and he wears whatever she picks out for him. He doles out compliments and remembers anniversaries. He picks up on her bad moods.

And now she has one more proud anecdote to add to the list. Recently, Melvin was going through the junk drawer in search of scissors. At one point, he picked up some shears, and thoughtfully asked if it was OK to cut plastic with this particular pair.

I almost died. My husband is a good man. Irwin is funny, smart, hard-working and as reliable as a German bullet train. Even so, he has never, ever asked about the proper care and feeding of scissors. In fact, he wouldn't think twice about using $40 sewing scissors as tin snips.

Likewise, he uses the bathroom towels to wipe up oil spills in the garage and the silverware to jimmy open paint cans. He will dig through a recently re-organized drawer like a puppy digging up geraniums. He thinks his soul will die if he ever puts dirty clothes inside the hamper instead of on top of it. He loads the dishwasher as if he shot the dishes from across the room with a T-shirt cannon. And when the bathroom mirror fogs up after a long shower, he wipes it clean with his fingers (probably because all the towels are in the garage).

I realize these are small inconveniences. Irwin expresses his love in a more Scandinavian and practical way. "Words are cheap," he's been known to say. "Actions speak louder." And so he expresses his devotion with a new pair of snow tires or a good, reliable ice scraper.

Even so, I'm kind of envious of Penelope and her scissors-savvy, house-straightening, mood-sensitive, compliment-spouting hubby. How does this happen? What do these women know that I don't? I can't even get my husband to drop me off at the door in the middle of winter. Yet there's this whole master race of super-wives who bring their husbands to scrapbook retreats and coax them to collect Franklin Mint dolls together.

Obviously, I missed some important life lessons from my mother. After 50-some years of marriage, my dad still lavishes her with compliments, washes dishes and surprises her with thoughtful gifts. For years, until his age finally prevented it, he would spend hours hanging Christmas lights all over their yard, just because he knew it meant a lot to her.

I was ruminating on this the other day when Penelope walked over to my desk.

"You know when I was bragging about how great my husband is and how careful he was with the scissors?" she asked. "Well, guess what? He just called me and informed me that he bought a car. Yes, we had talked about possibly buying a car someday and the type of car that we'd like to get, but I didn't think he would actually do it without talking to me."


Just wait till she gets snow tires...