Confessions of a Beta Male
February 7th, 2010

A recent Pew survey reveals that an increasing percentage of American women now earn more than their husbands. No big news for this guy, who has been sponging off the same woman for almost forty years.

It’s not the way I planned it; it just turned out that way. When Anne and I first met, we were just a couple of idealistic young English majors with big dreams to change the world. However, as time wore on, it became apparent that one of us was going to have to buckle down and get a real job, and it was pretty obvious that said “one of us” was going to be her. Why? Because she’s a lot smarter than I am and she has an actual resume, whereas all I have is a handful of tear sheets and a document confirming that I’m a “certified used car reconditioning expert.” How can I write the great American novel whilst attired in Carhartt bib coveralls?

So it came to pass that Anne ended up paying most of the bills. Meantime, I kept the home fires burning and made sure that she had a warm bed to crawl into after a hard day’s work—warm because I had spent most of the afternoon napping. I also did the shopping and cooked the meals. If something around the house needed fixing, I could usually fix it. After all, I AM a certified used car reconditioning expert!

My little scam worked pretty well until Baby Alex came into our lives, at which time I discovered the truth in the adage that a woman’s work is never done. And since Anne had a full time job, there was no way I could run away from bringing up baby. I certainly couldn’t afford to to hire a babysitter, since as a general rule babysitters make more money than freelance journalists.


At first it was really hard. Babies get cranky, they leak, and they keep irregular hours. As for toddlers, what can I say? A toddler demands one hundred percent of your attention. Alex never sat still, except when he was watching heavy machinery. I reckon the two of us spent at least three years overseeing various construction projects around the city.

During this time my self-image underwent a transformation. For instance, I used to think of myself as fairly masculine, same as those construction guys who wear hard hats, drive bulldozers and commute to work in extended cab, 4×4 pickup trucks. Hell, there was even a time when I, too, wore overalls and carried a lunchbox. I was a certified used car reconditioning expert! But now that I’m a homemaker, and drive around in a 1973 VW bus with a baby on board, I get no respect.

My son just turned 26, and would you believe it? I’m still on paternity leave! And I’m still driving that same old underpowered minibus, although I’m careful where I go, lest I be accosted by one of those oh-so-manly alpha males. The other night I had a dream that I was at the lumberyard, sizing up some two-by-fours, when I was accosted by former Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Howie Long, who spun me around, grabbed the end of the tape measure I was holding at crotch level and pulled it out until it was touching the front bumper of his enormous Chevrolet Silverado.

“I can see that you’ve got a tool belt and a heavy duty stainless steel Stanley retractable tape measure,” he growled. “But there’s just one thing you’ve got to ask yourself. Do you feel trucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

At this point in my dream, Howie lets go and the spring-loaded tape retracts abruptly into its shell. (Okay, Dr. Freud, I get it!) And my answer to Howie’s question is, “In today’s economy, where the hell am I gonna get the money to FEED a Silverado, let alone buy one?”

Well, I suppose I could ask my wife, but based on recent performance I doubt that she’ll up my allowance.

-Richard Menzies