Will Marry for Sex, Food, and Laundry
by Simon Oaks
Published by Adams Media
240 pages, 2009
Tips on Spinning Your Web
Reviewed by Diane Leach
I have no idea what possessed Mr. Oaks to pen his self-help ode to marital bliss. He is not a psychologist, MSW, or therapist of any sort. He is an ex-race car driver, and though he alludes to work many times in his deeply silly book, he never specifies precisely what he does. Perhaps he feels his nine -- nearly ten -- years of marriage qualify him to pen such a manual. Perhaps I feel my 16 years of marriage qualify me to say unkind things. Never mind. Down to specifics.
Adams Media, publisher of this fine screed, would benefit enormously from human proofreaders instead of computer spellcheckers to avoid “diffusing bombs,” “calorific” foods, or the way your sexual compatibility is directly correlated to how he “fairs” in the world. And though Oaks is aiming for a humorously slangy quality in his writing, it often turns the corner into poor grammar. Commas, so often that tiny mark between understanding and confusion, are all but forgotten: “This is the wrong way to handle things though.” As for eating “a fresco,” I think, based on context, that Oaks means eating a salad. Then again, he may think eating outdoors is the solution to “calorific” meals.
Bad grammar is usually enough to make me toss a book, but I stayed put like a good girl (does this make me good wife material?). Basically, if you need a book like this, you need a hell of a lot more than Mr. Oaks. His take is the lowest common denominator: men are cave idiots who need to be babied, sweet talked, coddled and cared for until they are so dependent that they haven’t any recourse but to marry you. To this end, Oaks arranges his book in large print chapters shot through with subheadings in bold type:
KITCHEN SLAVE, OR KITCHEN HERO?
SCORING HIS SEXUAL PERFORMANCE
TREAT HIM MEAN TO KEEP HIM KEEN
Men are not adults but boys, boys who are very attached to their Mommies, in the worst Pink Floyd-song-way. For instance, men enjoy eating with women because it’s less lonely, the food is probably better (you’ve cooked it: Oaks assumes most men don’t cook), and, most importantly, it reminds him of when Mommy took care of him.
Mommy comes up a lot in Will Marry. You are advised to get the recipe for his favorite Mommy dish, no matter your feelings about it. You are advised to get Mommy on your side, especially when it comes time for the multi-page proposal scheme. Never, ever criticize his Mommy (point taken -- he’s right on this one). But it’s your job as The Woman in His Life to replace Mommy by making him feel adored, cherished, fed. You should buy him little gifts, just because. And even if you manage to snag the poor bastard, don’t even think of letting yourself go. Oaks is smart enough to avoid the minefield known as women’s weight, but he does feel you should keep wearing those leopard print stilettos, doing your hair and donning your sexy kimono. Never mind what your entrapped is wearing, or that by now the two you have perhaps reached a level of intimacy where sweats are okay. I mean, I write this on Monday night, after a grueling day that began at five a.m. You sure as hell better believe I am not in a sexy kimono. My hair is twisted in an indifferent bun. As for the heels, I never wore those mothers. And you know what? My husband doesn’t care a whit.
And where are the men in this? How do they feel? Well, when not pining for Mommy, they’re playing with their power tools and messing about in the garage. Sometimes they are repairing something, a task you’d better be careful around. If he does it right, coo and bat your lashes. If he screws up, don’t get angry. Be sympathetic. You are his Woman. His Rock. A measure of His Ego. This is why you need to keep wearing those awful shoes, and why, even if you have a contractor’s license, you shouldn’t be seen repairing the roof. Why not? It makes him look bad to the neighbors.
Who gives a rat’s rear end about the neighbors? Your man does.
Curious what he’s looking for in a wife? Oaks’s list:
-- Is she a looker?
-- Is she a buddy?
-- Is she a confidant?
-- Is she a lover?
-- Is she a cheerleader?
-- Is she a defender?
-- Will she care for me?
I’ll spare you the rest, save, way down at number 10: is she intelligent?
Some critical questions left off the list:
Does she share my values? Religious views? Political inclinations? Does she want children? Do we share common interests? Can we stand to be in same room together?
There is some wisdom among the stupidity, even if it is of the most practical kind. Fighting over the chores? Figure out who does what best, and divvy up accordingly. You may find yourself doing laundry, cleaning and cooking because he’s no good at it and you just end up re-doing what he did. Or you may end up lucky and find yourself a domestic fellow. Or, in my case, you end up extremely lucky and marry an engineer who happily handles the finances. I myself can barely add.
Oaks offers gentle suggestions on what to do when things go sexually awry. But again, everything falls to the women. Keep it lively by keeping him off balance (didn’t I read that in Redbook?) Be mysterious one night, a cheerleader the next, a dominatrix on Sunday. Never mind how exhausted you are. Getting your Man and Keeping Him is full time job.
A final remark. Oaks aims for a light, humorous tone and is largely successful. He warns he will not be PC. And he ain’t. Check out this one-liner:
Woe is Mr. Oaks to find the reviewer who married a handicapped spot. My handicapped spot has an excellent job, a specialized engineering licensure, helps dry dishes, fold laundry and enjoys what cooking he can do in our inaccessible kitchen. He is brilliant, kind, tolerant of my craziness and so handsome that women hit on him constantly. They don’t seem to notice his wheelchair. So ladies (as the author insists on calling us), put down this book, which will tell you nothing you don’t already know, and cruise the handicap side of the lot. You might get lucky. Barring that, hang on to your self-respect, and remember his. You are not some she-spider spinning a web for a hapless male fly. You’re smarter than that -- and so is your potential spouse. | March 2009