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Prince Not-so-Charming

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 9/17/2003

I have been seeing a great guy for nearly a year. He's sweet, kind, thoughtful, smart--all that good stuff, plus he's really cute. I'm crazy about him, and, from everything he says, he's pretty crazy about me, too. I guess I'm lucky, except for one thing. He won't stop ogling other women. If a good-looking woman comes on television he'll rate her an "8" or a "9" or whatever. If we're out and a gal in a miniskirt walks by, he'll pivot in place just to admire her ass while she walks away. In the movies or in a restaurant, he'll whistle under his breath. He never says anything to the women, it's always to himself, but I can hear it and it bugs me. I've asked him to stop, but he doesn't get it. He says that I'm silly to be jealous, and that he's just a red-blooded American male who appreciates "a fine piece of horseflesh." Am I overreacting?

Champing at the Bit

Dear CATB:
Cute is good. Smart, kind, thoughtful, sweet: all good. Obviously and indiscreetly ogles women while with you: bad. Everybody looks--the world is full of hotties, and anyone who says he (or she) doesn't notice them is either blind or lying. And when we see someone whose very presence lifts our spirits for an instant, our fantasies aren't usually about discussions on the merits and weaknesses of arcane chess gambits. But most of us have learned to keep our little daydreams where they belong--in the privacy of our own minds.

It's probably pointless to try to explain to him how degrading his overt objectification of women is, so the next time you're with him try turning the tables. When you see an attractive guy, say so. Get crude, talk about bulges. If that's too much, just give an appreciative sigh, or do a subtle little hand flutter over your heart whenever any remotely cute guy walks by. Mutter under your breath, "2," "4," "9," etc., as you pass through crowds. This may help him realize how offensive he's being. If not, this could be the deal breaker. No matter his other attributes, you're never going to be any more comfortable with this behavior than you are now, and it's the sort of gets-under-your-skin gaucheness that can overwhelm your feelings and turn affection to contempt. He sounds good enough to try to educate, but if he can't learn, send him to the stables for horseflesh and rate him a big fat zero.

My husband and I have been married for 12 years and live in a small town where we know most of our neighbors. We've been pretty neutral politically. I mean, we vote in all the major elections, but we've never been passionate enough about anything to become involved in a campaign. But lately we've become quite vocal about a couple of issues regarding our community. We're talking to everyone we know about it. Last week my husband got a phone call from the opposition, asking him to work a booth at a fund-raising bazaar they're holding. To my horror he said yes. He told me they promised him lunch and a T-shirt, and he thinks it will be a hoot to spy on them from the inside. I told him it makes him look like he can be bought for the price of a hot dog, but he doesn't see it that way. He says he's made his position perfectly clear: Anyone with half a brain will know what he's up to, and they can all go to hell if they can't take a joke.

Publicly Disgraced

Dear PD:
You are so right about this. Your husband is giving humanity way too much credit. No one with half, or even three-quarters, of a brain is likely to use any of it analyzing your husband's ever-so-subtle and not-all-that-funny motivation. People will see him at the fund-raiser and assume he's a supporter. If he's known as a prankster, some of his friends might get the joke, but others won't, and he's running a real risk of alienating his allies.

Right as you are, however, you should get off his case about it. It's possible now that he's made this decision that he feels a little defensive about it, and without your constant opposition he could change his mind on his own. Even if he doesn't, you can distance yourself from it easily enough by rolling your eyes at your friends in the universal language of, "He's my husband and I love him but sometimes he just acts crazy," without compromising either him or yourself. But otherwise, keep the argument private.

Politics is important and it's terrific that you're getting involved, but unless you're prepared to dedicate the rest of your life to the cause your husband and your marriage are at least equally important. He may not be quite the political subversive he'd like to think, but it's unlikely he'll do any real harm to your side in his very minor capacity as booth handler. And, who knows, once he's inside he may actually get to argue your position in a way that changes somebody's mind. You might as well let him find out.

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