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Ken’s Valentine’s Day gift for the woman who has everything

I am a social scientist at heart. As with most males, I am genetically engineered to offer solutions to life’s challenges, even gender-related relationship problems — and even if the answer may come at my expense. I can’t help myself. I am stupid smart.

My social laboratory of late has been the “women behind the magazine” at Bellingham Alive. I am typically outnumbered
— a veritable male think tank of one. Of course, I don’t claim to understand every conversation at Friday happy hours because they speak a foreign language similar to the Navajo code talkers from WWII. But near as I can
decipher, women have rules, incredibly complicated rules, secret rules that we men are somehow supposed to know
without being told. And most of them are wholly unreasonable, like insisting on semi-polite manners and being semi thoughtful on a semi-regular basis.

Don’t hold your breath, ladies. It is not going to happen. Why? Testosterone. No male can be a decent human being
with that stuff running through his veins. And don’t give me the “hormonal” rebuttal. Testosterone, not hormones,
gets you sent to Afghanistan or Iraq, although, frankly, the results may have been better if the gender tables were turned. If Al-Qaida and the Taliban were stupid smart, like me, they would run for their man caves in the mountains for at least one week of every month. I know that I would.

However, this is not to say that I am unsympathetic. As I listened to their good-natured “grass is greener” grousing,
I had an epiphany. Women deserve a tool that forces men to step up their game. The answer: Husbandcare.gov. The
worst social ills of our day are dead-beat dads, the breakdown of the family unit, and high divorce rate. I say federally- mandated husbands for all heterosexual women over the age of 21.

Yes, mandatory husbands may be counterintuitive. But don’t fret, you lucky few wives. If you like your husband, preexisting conditions and all, you can keep him. If you don’t, however, you can contribute him to the federal exchange and go to Husbandcare.gov to shop, where the options would include the following “husband plans” for the disenchanted: Platinum (a.k.a. “Cougar Plan” available exclusively to women over 40): Younger husband looks good on your arm, has a body fat percentage below 10%, is at your beck and call, and refers to you as “the teacher.”

Gold: Husband does laundry, cooks family meals, cleans, showers daily, doesn’t ask for sex more than once a month,
and writes the humor column for a local lifestyle magazine.

Silver: Husband cooks Kraft Mac-and-Cheese for himself, mows the lawn, gets off the couch for snacks during football, showers occasionally, doesn’t ask for sex more than once a week and piles his dirty clothes in the closet for you to pick up later.

Copper has been discontinued: Husband doesn’t cook, clean, or bathe, but insists on sex once a day, and snaps his
fingers from the couch when he wants food.

Worried about quality control? Fear not. All husbands will be pre-vetted by the IRS for income verification and
come with a 50-point “body part” quality report courtesy of Husbandfax.com. Move over, Match.com and eHarmony.
We can officially cancel Valentine’s Day. If Husbandcare.gov doesn’t cause us to be on best behavior, nothing will.

Keep dreaming, right? I suppose this is the real point of any meaningful relationship — wishing don’t make it so.
We are who we are at any point in time, imperfect in ourselves and our life partnerships. But if we work to become
more self-aware and hold ourselves accountable, and if we expect more of ourselves than our partners, we grow — individually, and as couples. I know that I work every day to be worthy of my wife’s love. Most days, I fail. To paraphrase the playwright Samuel Beckett, however, I do my best to “fail better” each day and somewhere in this life-long process, I hope to become a better husband. Fortunately, we all have time to “get it right” as we grow older together because love, respect and humor don’t wrinkle. Take that, gravity.

Lisa, I want my last dying breath to be the one that I can’t take because I am laughing too hard — with you.

BTW, I left your membership letter from AARP on your desk next to my mock-up of Husbandcare.gov. Choose wisely.

"BTW, I left your membership letter from AARP on your desk next to my mock-up of Husbandcare.gov. Choose wisely."