I believe in the ability of words to right wrongs and to wrong rights.
Some refer to the female adult person with whom I cohabitate as my “wife.” Outwardly, I accept this terminology. In truth, each time some word rebel asks after my “wife,” I go all eeeeew and am too nauseous to revel in the empire crashing intent of this edgy usage. Yuck. The idea was to subvert, or at least cheerfully pervert, the paradigm not revert back to it.
But when we try to imagine human relationships in unfamiliar terms our minds blow out of our eyeholes. And, observing decent citizens straining to calculate the infinite variables of positions and domestic duties available to those in less traditional couplings can be excruciating. For example. . .
Usually, when at the grocery store, we, the cohabitant and I, shop rather than fondle one another. Regardless of what the female adult person with whom I cohabitate believes, this is a household task neither of us relish. You can bet if I’ve got her at Randall’s plopping jarred spaghetti sauce into a cart, she is doing it under duress; and by the time we drag up to the check- out line we feel, and look, as romantically engaged as the splayed chicken parts we lob onto the conveyor belt.
Eventually, the cashier takes her eyes away from totaling up our oddly commingled food stuffs and registers us: two middle-aged women standing side by side as if we were. . . what?
Puzzlement clouds the cashier’s face. Her brain ticks through the possibilities quicker than the perky sacker can ask, “paper or plastic.” Absent-mindedly, I graze the hand of the female adult person with whom I cohabitate. The cashier glimpses the touch. Noticeably bewildered, she turns back to her computer screen searching wildly for a UPC code that might explain us. There isn’t one.
By herself, she must unpack the bizarreness of two women buying tampons and tuna together and put it back on aisle 9 where normal is shelved. Restocking maven that she is, she does just that, saying finally, “You’re sisters, right?”
The female adult person with whom I cohabitate, smiles reassuringly and answers, “Yes.”
With that “Yes,” the female adult person with whom I cohabitate has righted the cashier’s wrong and wronged our right. Maybe in our case, “wife” has some merit after all.