By Drew Denton
My wife doesn’t know how old I am.
Now I can see you hopscotching your way to several conclusions already, so let me catch you mid-air and clarify that I did not marry Megan Hackler of Shawnee Mission, Kansas under an assumed identity in order to obtain a visa or secure a share in a Powerball payout or anything of the sort. It’s not my fault that my age remains a mystery to her. The fact that I am 617 days her junior has simply not made it into her hard-drive; every time the fact comes up, she notes it on a Word document in her mind, only to close before hitting “save.” Some of you might find this alarming (“What if she has to fill out a missing persons report on you?!”) Others might think it enviously liberating (“Man, my wife is constantly reminding me exactly how old I am!”) I find it charming, a clue to the eminently sensible yet stealthily quirky personality that makes Megan so endearing to me.
I was, by some accounts, a young man at the time of our marriage. “You were twenty-six?” Megan recently exclaimed, astounded, when I reminded her that I was, at the time of our wedding, the same age as an engaged friend of hers whom she deemed to be “so young” for the sacrament. “I married a baby!” was Megan’s conclusion at this most recent revelation of my D.O.B.
Yes, dear, in some ways you did. Though I had long since graduated from 60’s Dylan to Blood on the Tracks and given up similarly undergraduatish pursuits, I often spent the waning days of my bachelorhood in that manufactured angst and fancy familiar to many professional students, dreaming of novels unwritten and places unvisited, imagining which of all possible worlds might be the best to inhabit. You, meanwhile, lived with a refreshing lack of self-conscientiousness in the world that actually was: you cheerfully worked a real job, cultivated your friendships and family bonds with unaffected loyalty, loved me courageously, and followed an unswerving instinct for Goodness that I had only read about in Aquinas. You managed to woo me into your orbit of good sense and stability, to ease me of the burdens I had invented for myself, to give me a Home when all without and within seemed transient. Though on rare occasions I will still reunite with the guys for a midnight showing of Death Wish 3, your love has made me more mature, more complete, and more content.
But let’s not kid ourselves, dear – no one has ever mistaken me for a reckless youth, and by some accounts I was an old man, well on my way to curmudgeon-hood, when we married. Perhaps this is the source of your confusion regarding my age. Lots of people have probably thought that I needed to “lighten up” over the years, but only you possessed the key fitted for my lighten-up function. For those who don’t know, Megan is a champion laugher and creator of laughs, possessing a comic style – both intentional and unintentional – that is uniquely her own. Her humor has been known to bring feared free safeties – twelve-year veterans of NFL combat – to the verge of tears in corporate settings about as conducive of laughter as an NPR pledge drive. But it’s not just her ability to create and share laughs that brings buoyancy to our marriage. Megan has a knack for fun and she shares it unselfishly, as evidenced most recently by her sending me on a surprise trip to Spring Training while she stayed home to stare down the twentieth week of pregnancy on her own. What a woman! When other guys murmur the customary complains about being on a “leash” or the like, I can only nod in feigned sympathy. I have no idea what they’re talking about. My wife has made my life freer and more fun. I feel younger than I did on our wedding day, and I have a suspicion that trend will continue for years to come.
It’s no wonder you don’t know how old I really am, dear. You’ve helped me grow up and made me a kid again, all at the same time. If you pull off the same feat for our baby boy, he’s going to have a happy future indeed.
 And now for an aside in honor of Women’s History Month: Remember when common (male) consensus held that women weren’t funny? In our post 30 Rock world, that may seem like ages ago, but as recently as 2006 – speaking anecdotally – most guys were convinced that women just couldn’t make them laugh the way other men could. That’s changed dramatically. Humor has been the biggest cultural frontier for women’s advancement in this country over the past decade, and my wife has been leading the charge!…At least as far as I’m concerned.