The Real House Husbands of Boston



There is a pause, a sigh and then a question. 

“Can I be honest with you?”

“Of course,” I reply.

“You’re not extreme enough,” she says, putting an emphasis on the word “extreme” that makes it sound like this is the holy grail of behavior.  I envision her, this TV producer, on the other end of the phone marking a big red X over a picture of our faces, scribbling “Pussies” and then underlining this three times in a huff.

She is right, of course. 

When she asked how we disciplined our children, I might have said “Oh, we make them drink hot sauce,” but opted for the cheery, sugary truth, “With plenty of love!”  I could sense her mentally vomiting in my face.

When she asked if we controlled their dating I might have said “We chose spouses for them before they were born,” but instead said “We just want them to be happy.”  I’m certain she was making a gun shape with her index finger and thumb while pointing it at her forehead.

“But we are two gay fathers with five children,” I maw.

“You’re one short of the Gaydy bunch,” she replies and then adds “Can you adopt another child?”

“I—uh—“

“I’m just kidding!” she laughs maniacally.

It is a funny little producer joke.

“Good luck,” she says before hanging up.  There is a tiger Mom on the prowl, or a helicopter parent 
circling somewhere to be discovered.

That evening I stand in the kitchen and whine, while Paul cooks turkey burgers on our George Foreman grill.

“We’re not going to be reality TV stars.  She said we’re not extreme enough.”

“That Bitch!” Paul replies, hands me a plate and then adds, “Come on. Let’s go sit down on the sofa. Jeopardy is on!”  He claps his hands like a small child excited for recess.

He takes a bite of his burger and then struck by an epiphany says “Extreme? She hasn’t seen you in the bedroom!” He snaps his fingers over his head for emphasis while shouting “Johannesburg!” at the TV.

I mentally reconstruct the scene from last night’s bedroom episode.  We lay side by side on our bed, Paul is on his back and I am facing him on my side.  I gently place my hand on Paul’s shoulder. I press my lips close to his ear and softly whisper “Roll over.” And then I say, “You’re snoring.”

“We are pussies,” I say.

There was a time when we lived a life on the edge.  We hobnobbed with a group of reality TV stars in West Hollywood on vacation.

“Remember how Jax sucked at making those drinks?” I ask Paul.

“What a douche,” Paul commiserates and then says “But you kept on drinking them.”

“Stassi and Kirsten were normal.  They could have been our daughters,” I say and then add “Stassi is from Detroit for God sakes!”

Paul places his plate on the end table and looks at me.

“Is Willy having a little melt-down?”

He is patronizing me.

“When did we become so normal?” I ask him.

“Honey, you’re anything but normal,” he scoffs.

If a TV camera were to capture the scene at this moment, I might pick up my drink and throw it in Paul’s face. He would pick up my plate, throw it against the wall and call me a thankless bitch. But, here is the scene as it plays out.

“Do you really think I’m not normal?”

“You’re Abbie Normal,” he replies.

We kiss.  We yell answers at the TV.  The camera zooms out, and I thank God for every minute of our extremely normal life.


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