Of course, the media loved Kip and me as a couple, loved the "hook" that my husband was a walking billboard for the Wyman Method, loved that my personal life validated, meshed with, was a shining example of what I preached in my professional life. When I married Kip, People magazine gushed: "The woman famous for teaching men how to be sensitive has wed a man who personifies sensitivity." But it was 20/20's Elizabeth Vargas who put it best when she came to the house to interview us for a piece on "Couples Who Communicate." "Lynn Wyman," she said, staring straight into the camera lens, "has a husband who isn't afraid to express his feelings."
Lucky me. In the four years that we'd been married, I had never once heard my husband utter the dreaded words: "I don't want to talk about that." He was a great talker, the Kipster.
"Lynn. You're home," he said, rushing to the door to greet me that evening after the radio show. "It's almost nine-thirty. I didn't think you'd be this late. I was getting a little frantic. You could have called."
"What for? There was traffic on the Bruckner, that's all," I said, dumping my bulging briefcase onto the living room sofa.
"You know what a worrier I am," said Kip. "I pictured all sorts of things happening to you."
"That's sweet." I kissed him. He was wearing his uniform -- blue jeans and a work shirt -- and his wavy dark hair was wet. He looked scrubbed, squeaky clean, as if he had just hopped out of the shower and changed clothes. He had soap in his ears. Like a little boy.
"Well, let's get you something to eat," he said. "You must be starving." He took my hand and led me into the kitchen. "I made lasagna tonight. It reheats well. I'll just pop it into the microwave, then pour us both a drink."
Kip was wonderful about doing the cooking, the shopping, the domestic chores I didn't have time for, given my long hours. He never complained, never balked, never minded when friends teased him about being the "wife," never winced when strangers referred to him as "Mr. Wyman," never even flinched when someone had the nerve to bring up the disparity between his income and mine. He's so evolved, I thought, congratulating myself. So devoted.
While the lasagna was being nuked, we sipped our drinks -- a scotch and water for me, a glass of chardonnay for him. Then, over dinner, he asked me about my day, without any prodding whatsoever.
"And how was your day?" I asked him after finishing my recitation.
He told me about his day: how he was building a TV cabinet -- an armoire -- for the newly minted couple down the street; how the wife was extremely friendly and accessible while the husband was aloof and wouldn't make any eye contact; how the supermarket seemed more crowded than usual when he went to buy the ingredients for the lasagna; how he got stuck with a shopping cart that had a bad wheel and felt self-conscious about the squeal it made as he tried to steer it up and down the aisles; how he realized later that he should have just traded the cart in for another one the minute he spotted the bad wheel instead of suffering through the ordeal of having all the other shoppers stop and stare at him; how the girl at the checkout counter reminded him of Britney Spears.
I listened patiently to all this minutiae, never once wishing he'd put a sock in it. We were sharers, Kip and I -- a couple of expressers in a world of withholders. Sometimes what we shared was substantive and sometimes it was, well, like the bit about the shopping cart with the bad wheel.
We finished dinner. I offered to do the dishes, but Kip insisted that I relax in a nice warm bath while he did the dishes. Was he a prize or what?
I toddled off to the master bedroom suite, disrobed and turned on the water in the tub. I was pinning up my hair when I remembered that I'd forgotten to call Diane, my assistant, to tell her I wouldn't be in the office until eleven the next morning. (I had a meeting with the programming people at CBS; we'd been kicking around the possibilities of my hosting my own daytime talk show.)
Copyright Jane Heller, 2001. All rights reserved.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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