A few weeks ago, after my ex-husband had rescinded his agreement to swap a timeshare weekend, resulting in a last-minute major snafu in our plans, my husband Atticus snapped. His saint-like reserve of endurance in the Fend Off One Dastardly Ex-Husband Olympics ran dry. He said nothing, but started to smolder. I thought that lava might spout from his head. Instead, he left the house, slamming the door behind him.
When are you coming home? I texted him an hour later.
Late, was his only response.
When he slipped under the covers around midnight, I was too tired to get into it with him and pretended to be asleep.
I was leaning against the kitchen counter drinking coffee the next morning when Atticus lumbered down the stairs and shuffled over to the coffee maker.
He poured himself a mug, took a sip, and in response to my where-the-hell-were-you?! look replied:
"I went to see Drive last night." He was referring to the recently released Ryan Gosling film.
"We just saw it last weekend," I said.
"I know. But I needed to see the violence again."
"Did it make you feel better?" I asked.
Atticus gazed over my head, all daydreamy. He has mentioned, on more than one occasion, that he would like to break my ex-husband's knees. So I figured he was imagining just that, when he said, reverentially:
"It's amazing all the things Ryan Gosling can do with his eyes." He sighed. "The emotions he can convey, with just a look. I could watch him in anything."
Atticus is a discerning cinemaphile who re-watches his favorite films the way some people re-read books. He is particularly compulsive when it comes to movies about outsiders trying to connect. Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity. Ben Affleck in The Town. Clint Eastwood in anything. But his affection for Ryan Gosling is unparalleled.
I grinned. "You have a man crush on Ryan Gosling!"
Atticus scoffed. He's 150% guy. Drives a bright yellow sports car with black rims. Rides a red motorcycle. Has my name on tattooed on his bicep. Checks sports stats on his iphone several time a day. And if not for my relentless prodding, he would never even have considered applying product to his unruly hair.
Atticus won't admit he has a man crush on Ryan Gosling, but it's true. Recently, he came home with a smorgasbord of Ryan Gosling on Blu-Ray. I sifted through the DVDs. Blue Valentine. Half Nelson. Lars and the Real Girl.
"The Notebook?" I glanced from the swooner responsible for Gosling's permanent warm, mushy place in the hearts of women the world over to my stridently non-metrosexual husband.
"Best Buy was slashing prices," he shrugged, sheepishly.
I'm glad Atticus has a man crush on Ryan Gosling. Because I can be open about the fact that I also think he's one smooth drink of water, and Atticus totally gets it. In fact, we seriously considered changing the date of our camping trip last weekend so we wouldn't miss the opening of The Ides of March.
In case you have just relocated from Siberia, Ryan Gosling mania is now ruling the zeitgeist. The media has latched on to the actor's statement about female sexuality being sublimated due to a "patriarchy-dominant society" and has positioned Gosling as a feminist-approved love object. The fervor officially tipped over into satire last weekend with the creation of the uniquely hysterical spoof web site, Feminist Ryan Gosling.
But my husband is proof that Ryan Gosling is not just for women. Or girly-men. Gosling has a brazenly iconoclastic masculinity--an I-am-who-I-am-wounds-and-all-and-I-don't-give-a-f**ck-what-you-think-ness--that appeals to the most alpha of Alpha Men.
Unable to return my ex's covert gut-punch with an actual physical retaliation, Atticus did the next best thing. Sitting alone at a late-night showing of Drive, he got to live vicariously through a character much like him, who gets to do what Atticus can only dream of.
A guy who prefers fast cars to social interactions. An enigmatic, edgy soul who walks his unspoken talk, risking everything, and hammering nails into people's heads, in order to save the woman he loves (Carey Mulligan aka me) from being destroyed by a ruthless businessman (Albert Brooks aka you-know-who).
"I don't know how I feel about watching him in a big Hollywood movie," Atticus said this morning, as if he were hurt that Ryan hadn't consulted us on his next career move.
We were talking about seeing The Ides of the March this weekend.
"I kind of think he should only be in indie films, where he's a crack addict or in love with a doll," he said.
I nodded. But it didn't matter. There is no question, that as long as we both shall live, we will watch Ryan Gosling in anything, even if it's Mouseketeer reruns.
So we'll sit in the theater this Saturday night, waiting for Ryan's eyes to light up the screen. And when they do, I know what my husband will be thinking.