A Tribute to Ukrainian Women. Or, My Wife Should Hold Auditions for a Future Husband

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By Michael Willard

I once suggested to my wife that given the certainty I will slip earth’s bonds someday, she should, at the proper time, hold auditions for her next husband.

She’s younger than my favorite guitar, and I am old enough to remember 29-cent gasoline.

She didn’t object, which a less secure fellow might find disconcerting, and check out the Google listing for private detectives. Not me. I made only one suggestion:

“Honey, scratch writers off any potential list. Most are worse than useless at real life.”

Acknowledging the obvious, she nodded. That’s what I am, a writer, a scribe, an author and an insular fellow when it comes to the daily tango of man and computer. As a handyman around the house, I’d make for a better ballerina in tutu.

When it comes to word-slinging, I’m referring to newspapers, broadcast reports, magazines, speeches, books (fiction and non-fiction), advertising copy, press announcements, film scripts, record liner notes, columns, and, I am sure on occasion, the backs of cereal boxes.

Though my efforts through various careers have helped keep shoes on little feet and borsch (my wife Olga is Ukrainian) in the pot, the vocation is about as useless these days as that of a chimney sweep when it comes to traversing life’s real ups, downs, and all-arounds.

I can quote lines from Shakespeare, Faulkner, Lewis (Sinclair not C.S.), Wolfe (both Thomas and Tom), and, in a pinch, the old standbys from the 18th and 19th Century, George (Mary Anne Evans) Eliot, and, on occasion, Dr. Samuel Johnson.

Screwing in a light bulb, however, is a challenge.

My suggestion was ground zero in practicality for this non-practical dreamer. It was an unselfish declaration. One would hope it would be applauded by multitudes and the stuff of future etiquette books on marriage.

Preferably — and this is relatively important — the light of my life would wait until the funeral pyre has left the dock aflame and the last notes of my favorite song (“Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas…Don’t fall over the Christmas tree.”) have died.

For sure, the future groom should know the difference between a screwdriver, a wrench and a hammer and have a vague idea about the principles of electricity and how to repair that mysterious contraption, an ordinary toilet, first invented in 1596 by Queen Elizabeth’s godson.

I am told these are everyday menial tasks that normally come natural to guys born with a lower appendage often named Johnson, Pepe La’ Amour, Rumpelstiltskin, or, for the non-imaginative braggart, Moby Dick. That aside, I find the mechanics of life mostly confusing and damn dull.

While I have a birth certificate evidence I wasn’t adopted, this acorn fell far from the tree. Yes, dear hearts, I have a nice little homestead in an alternate reality where I prop up my feet, cradle my guitar, and dream stardom is simply another book, painting or song away.

My dad could fix a television back when they had a dozens of vacuum tubes. He knew the difference between a carburetor and a fuel pump. I have no idea what engine cavity to insert an oil stick, and I could just as quickly invent time travel as change a tire on a car.

In the time I have been writing this, my wife has applied and caulked tile in the kitchen. She has done magic with a fussy electrical outlet and painted a bunch of stuff blue. Other than making terrific borsch, these are everyday activities built into the DNA of a Ukrainian woman.

She also wrapped up her executive MBA this year, and has applied for a doctorate program in sociology. I was bored of school after finishing kindergarten, but managed to keep on trucking for the duration of a very basic university education.

If I had one piece of advice for young writers who are utterly helpless at what often is called “real life,” it would be this: Marry a Ukrainian lady. They are lovely and can do stuff you can’t.

(Photo: The author and his Ukrainian lady, Olga, at our Turkish retreat a few years back.)

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