Thursday, July 30, 2009

My husband. Jack of many, many trades.

I apologize that this photo is so dark, but it was nighttime, demonstrating Matt's obsession with his new lady, the MAME cabinet. Here he is putting a coat of paint on the thing. (Read on to find out what I'm talking about.)

First off, yesterday was Matt's birthday, so happy birthday, Matt, and welcome to your late twenties. (He is younger than me by two months and four days, and likes to remind me on occasion by calling me "Wrinks", short for wrinkles. I point out that he has smile lines, not me, but it's worthless since he's the one who always gets carded, and not me. True story: I was actually laughed at when I asked a cashier at a liquor store if she wanted to see my ID. And I was 22!)

Matt is really into picking up new hobbies/obsessions, pouring countless daily hours into them when there is good TV on, and then dropping them abruptly. Let's reminisce about the more peculiar ones, shall we? About four years ago, when we first lived together in a cozy one-bedroom apartment, Matt was on a soup kick. As in Campbell's. Progresso. Whatever. We'd go to the grocery store and Matt would insist on buying no less than six cans of soup weekly (salt be damned). This went on for a couple months, until one day, I looked into our cabinet, and there were 25 cans of soup staring back at me. He tried all sorts of soup, but preferred zesty ones like "Mexican Tortilla" or meaty ones like "Steak and Potatoes" (this particular can also proclaimed it was the perfect remedy for a "man's" appetite). I was relieved when the post office was doing a canned food drive and proceeded to dump all this extraneous soup in a bag for Steve, our mailman (I did not know if his name was Steve, but he certainly looked like a Steve). Matt saw this bag and grabbed for his once-beloved soup. "You have not had any soup in weeks!" I exclaimed. "I know, he said, but that one is Italian wedding soup, and I like those meatballs," he said as he cradled the can in his arms. "Well, then," I said. "The needy will enjoy it that much more."

Which takes us to unicycling (soup to unicycling...perfect non sequitur, uh?). For as long as I've known Matt, he could juggle. When a juggling and unicycling class opened up at our local adult night-school (no joke, here) he of course had to sign up. No question about it. He did not own a unicycle but waxed philosophic about the damn thing, and that Christmas his parents (thanks Nancy and David) bought him one. He was overjoyed. Every day after work, he'd take his unicycle to our apartment parking lot at dusk (so not many folks would see him, as learning to ride a unicycle is a very self-conscious endeavor) and practice. It was a sorry sight at first, and I pretended I didn't know who he was. But after a few weeks, he could wobbly ride on the cement. Two years ago, we moved to our house and Matt has only practiced the unicycle in our garage, for fear of being dubbed the "weird" neighbor. I fear this title has already been attributed to us, due to his next hobby/obsession.

Slack-lining. Or at least that's what I think it's called. It's a new outdoor "sport" that essentially consists of tying a rope from one tree to another, and walking on it like a giant idiot. Naturally, Matt had to try it. He bought a bright pink slack-line (just to be as gaudy as possible, you know?) and tied it to two large trees in our backyard, which is visible to the street as we have a corner property. He then tried to bounce on the thing and walk, but I don't think he ever got the hang of it, really. I can't be sure, as I'd lower the window shade so I didn't have to watch this spectacle. Even our neighbor came out one afternoon and asked what Matt was doing. (He must not think too lowly of him, as he entrusted Matt to cat sit his beloved Shadow the other week.) I told Matt fine, he can indulge in this ridiculous "sport" as long as he took the bright pink line down after he used it. But he never did, and we had a pink rope three feet off the ground for a good month or so, or until Matt tired of it and his attention drew to an equally ludicrous endeavor.

Which brings us to his MAME cabinet, which I believe was right before slack-lining, but when you have a string of absolute zaniness, timelines don't really count. Do you know what a MAME cabinet is? Oh, boy, I certainly do. A MAME cabinet is a single arcade unit, where you put your computer into the viewing area, and play any game you want (that is installed on your computer). You install your buttons, joystick, and all of that. Given that I enjoy vintage whatever, and an arcade unit with old school Pacman and Frogger was going to be on it, I thought, fine, I can handle this. And to be absolutely honest, I was proud that Matt had the technical know-how to construct such a thing and wire it. (I love nerds and their nerdy antics. I have a sweatshirt somewhere that says, "Nerds make better lovers." Ha.) However, I quickly grew leery when the MAME cabinet took precedence over me. I would painstakingly make a lovingly concocted culinary feast of bountiful proportions (or, you know, grilled cheese and soup or something) and call Matt in from the garage (the MAME's birthplace) to eat dinner. He would promise he was coming, but only emerged two hours later, covered with sweat and sawdust. He was married to the MAME. Eventually, the MAME cabinet came to fruition after months of pouring over websites dedicated to selling MAME parts (he agonized for two weeks about what color buttons to purchase). That is when he asked me to bring the thing into our living room. He argued I had taken control of decorating the house, and I conceded, that yes, I did, but of of ABSOLUTE NECESSITY. Case in point: putting a giant arcade unit into our living room. "This is not a bachelor pad!" I yelled. He said fine, we can put it elsewhere, but I'll never see him again because he'll be spending all of his time with the MAME cabinet, so wouldn't I rather have it where I was - in the living room? No, I said. He then angled for the kitchen. "Absolutely not," I protested. We had three vacant bedrooms, I proclaimed. Make one of them your nerd HQ, for goodness sakes! He would not budge, so the cabinet went into our sun room for the summer, and was finally moved to its final resting place, a guest bedroom. It's victory enough for me.

Next up: a few months ago Matt proclaimed his love for coffee. "You hate coffee," I said. "Not now, I love it," he replied. "As of when?" I said. "As of today," he said. Oh god, I felt another episode of "Matt delves into yet another pointless hobby" taking hold. "I have to go get a coffee machine. But I don't want a normal one. I want a FRENCH PRESS." Sigh. So that very day we went to Target and Matt bought a french press. He also bought some French Roast coffee, arguing a French press obviously need a French roast (I have no idea where he gets these things), and were on our way. Two weeks later he announced he needed a coffee bean grinder. And last week? Well, last week he was looking at espresso machines. "I have some half-and-half; do you want that in our coffee?" I once mistakenly asked. He immediately admonished me, saying he drinks his coffee "pure", and it's really the only way in which one should drink coffee. Oh. He also drinks his coffee late at night so he can "have more vivid dreams". (Caffeine does not affect him.) Although I poked him a few weeks ago and asked what he was dreaming about and he said he wasn't. So much for that.

This past month Matt has latched onto square-foot gardening and composting. Now, I admire this - he wants to grow our own produce and everyone should compost. But then I noticed fruit flies everywhere in our kitchen. I shook the covered bowl were Matt had begun storing our scraps and about three dozen flies lifted off from the bowl. "Maaatttttt!" I yelled. "Get your fly-ridden stinky garbage bowl away from where I am COOKING!" He told me to calm down; a fruit fly never hurt anybody. (For his birthday, I bought him a a countertop composting pail that will hopefully reign in those buggers.)

I have so many others. So, so many. Matt says it's because of his quirks that I love him, and it's absolutely true. He makes my life interesting. That's the sort of game we play: I am the sardonic, opinionated one, and he is the lovable goof (it's all very much like a sitcom). And frankly, I'm just fine with that.


  1. that's so sweet :) Happy birthday Matt!

  2. I am loving the coffee obsession! Can't wait for my next visit to Phonexville. I also loved your Mom's idea for the curry chicken wraps with Asian slaw. I've just got to track some down since we're not lucky enough to have a Wegmans on Long Island.


  3. This too shall pass. This zaniness is inherent in the young Y chromosome, then it goes into remission (mid-life) and then IT COMES BACK!
    The first year after your dad and I were married, he started a fly tying hobby. Took classes in Pittsburgh, bought a vise and various fly paraphenalia, went to outdoor shows and bought feathers and quills and chenille to make wooly worms and buggers and midges. Which brings me to the Grummon canoe. How can you fish if you don't have a watercraft? The canoe was our very first purchase as a couple. We lived in a furnished 3rd. floor walkup, we owned no furniture, but by god, we had a canoe! Your grandfather Zilker was not pleased. Then there was bee keeping. You remember bee keeping, don't you, because you and Kris were around by then--and you may recall that a few bees got into the back seat of the car (from the trunk) while you and Kris were in it on our way to Aunt Ruthie's, where the hives were kept. Once again, dad took classes, bought equipment (extractor, hives, supers, and THE BEES ARRIVED BY MAIL!). He worked the hives a couple years until the bee mite got 'em, and in the meantime we did get lots of honey. Then there was target shooting and clay pigeons, and if I recall you went along with dad several times, too. There was a reprieve of 20 yrs. or so, and now we are in the midst of achieving the perfect lawn! Dad edged our lawn--the first time ever, and ya know all those little yellow pee stains in the back from the dogs? Well, dad digs 'em up and reseeds 'em. Our lawn is now just as good, if not better, than the neighbors--okay, with the possible exception of Steve across the street. So, go, Matt! By the way, Matt, at one time Dave talked about roasting his own coffee beans--you know you could buy green beans--because he would "have better control over the roast."

  4. Belinda,
    Matt says thank you for the birthday wishes! He is very much enjoying his birthday countertop comoposting pail. (Nerd.)

    If you come over, Matt will fix you a cup of coffee from the French press with a biscotti. He will then proceed to speak to you in a very bad French accent while drinking said coffee.

    Please don't give Matt anymore ideas (e.g. roasting his own coffee beans). Also, you forgot when dad bought that little sports car!!!! I actually do remember the bees, too!!

  5. If Matthew gets over the coffee obsession, I'll take the espresso machine.

    Also, thanks for the info on the Fleet Foxes, I was hoping you would include something.

  6. Yeah, it was a black Mazda, a 2 seater. Totally impractical for a couple of six footers, but it was hot! Also the motorcycle. Mom

  7. Mom: Wow, I forgot about the motorcycle. That's crazy. And weird. Considering you both are so risk-adverse!!!!!

    Nancy: Matt doesn't have the espresso machine yet b/c he wants a good one (read: expensive "real" one, I think he's thinking like one in an Italian cafe or something, which I scoff at) so I've held him off so far. If he continues the obsession, maybe I'll get him a $40 Mr. Coffee knock-off for Christmas; ha!

  8. Maybe you could get a good one on ebay--seems like something people get, then loose interest.
    Also, some of the other hobbies, like juggling, unicycle, slack line--become completely legitimate when you have kids.

  9. Ha ha - if his interest continues to Christmas time (that's a long time for him!) then maybe he'll find one under the tree....but I have my doubts!! ;-)