After Hours


     I recently decided that my wife’s dislike of my brand of rock music is a really good thing for our marriage. I know this seems counterintuitive. What if your spouse bonked her head and suddenly declared she loved beer? Or golf? Would this spell marital disaster? Of course not! Unless, that is, giddiness over your newly shared pastimes drove you to liquidate all your possessions and bribe your way into some private golf club that also brews its own beer.

     But golf is not the frenetically-spewed funk/rock/blues experience that I enjoy so much, which is almost always had at night. Often, late at night. This is one of the few times of day when finding a sitter to deal with our kids is virtually impossible. It’s also when most parents in their mid-forties like us are home recovering from hectic workday and child-rearing responsibilities. My wife does not recover from her busy day by packing herself in tight quarters with people she doesn’t know and subjecting herself to din she doesn’t enjoy. This means she is generally available to keep an ear open for the kids whenever the most intriguing bands roll through town.

     I am thereby released, on these occasions, to head out late and behave not so much differently than I did way back when I was childless and single. Obviously, I am not at liberty to chase women, but I am not so stupid to chase women at these rock shows anyway. Besides the fact that it would wreck my life, having an affair with a relative child who would not be willing to watch my kids the next time a great band shows up makes zero sense. I know, men can be counted on to do things that make no sense, but I have it too good for that. Generally speaking, if I keep everything above-board, the occasional very late nights are my time to do as I please.  

     For almost every other activity I enjoy, I'd be delighted if my wife shared the interest. If she liked skiing, I’d lobby for a family vacation to Taos, New Mexico. If she fished, she could join me in my duties as deckhand, baiting the kids' hooks and hauling in the catch. If she bicycled, we might reasonably set up a two-wheeled wine tour of the Loire Valley. (The kids could ride tag-alongs and drink grape juice). On the other hand, if I am to escape the house in the wee hours for a show, I need (and have) a companion who has no desire to do that herself.

     There is more to all this than just the music. It’s a beer before the show with friends who are beginning to look similarly too creaky for the mosh pit. It’s donning 4-inch platforms to see above the general admission crowd and not feeling out of place doing it. It’s the after-show airing-out on the sidewalk before we all make our way back home, or even extending the night at someone’s house with a glass of wine and more music. Maybe I’m just keeping a tenuous grip on a lifestyle not meant for parents approaching 50. It might explain why I don’t get quite the same charge from Red Sox games I attend. It’s not so hard to fit Fenway outings into a middle-age regimen, and my wife joins me for these evenings as often as she can. It’s relatively easy to find someone to watch our kids until 10 or 11 at night, but 2 or 3 in the morning? My wife has no desire to be out that late, and neither do our sitters.

     I do my darnedest to show my appreciation for my wife’s anchoring of our domestic life. My kids expect to visit the zoo every week or so, which becomes my responsibility to cover. When my wife wants to have dinner out with a girlfriend, I say go for it honey. In fact, I wish she'd go for it much more often than she does. I’ll make me feel better about my own nights out. Besides the fact that I am willing to return the favor more often than she takes me up on it, I would note that when I do go out, I’m often leaving the house so late anyway that I’ve already helped put the kids to bed and/or cleaned the kitchen after dinner.  

     Still, my wife must wonder when this is all going to end. Surely, my late nights will eventually give way to schedule that’s more appropriate for a 47 year old. Indeed. And by then, I’ll be a good deal older.