It Takes A Wife

I remember thinking at HS graduation that our valedictorian would one day rule the world.  There’s smart, there’s wicked smart, there’s OMG I better keep my mouth shut or she’ll figure out how stupid I am smart, then there’s, like, spooky I’m-not-certain-she’s-a-carbon-based-life-form kinda smart.  She was a little beyond that last one.  Dept of Defense Dependent Schools have a tendency to churn out stellar overachievers, and she was chief among us.  In our class of 200 graduates, we had 3 West Point appointees, 3 Annapolis appointees, 4 Air Force Academy appointees, two had full scholarships to Ivy League colleges, one went to Julliard, I was the major slacker of my crowd going off to Texas A&M to major in Chemical/Petroleum Engineering.  Brilliant, talented, athletic, assertive, personable, imaginative, focused…it was exciting to think about what Tammy would do with that vast potential.


I went to a HS class reunion in San Diego a few years ago and got to find out what she did with all that potential. Turns out these days she works part time developing pictures and spends an inordinate amount of time arguing with her hypercritical, Albanian mother-in-law about customs restrictions on bringing back lemons from former communist block countries.


Go figure.


I had to wonder: WTF?  But then I got to thinking of the military adage: Any man can be a Colonel, but it takes a wife to be a General.


She never found her “wife,” never had that one person who could push, refine and hone her talents into something useful to her.


Think about the “stellar” people you could name.  Yes, there are people who seem to find that inner voice, hear the beat of that different drummer and continue to march, but mostly the superstars are the people with an amazing talent AND someone who inspires, motivates, refines, refuses to accept excuses.  It’s the power behind the throne that mitigates and neutralizes the voices that drag them down into mediocrity.


Augustus had his Livia

Elvis Presley had his Colonel Parker

Tommy Franks had his Katherine

Napoleon had his Josephine

Tara Lipinski had her parents


I’ve read articles on Josh Groban, the singer who’s taken over the Pop-opera genre with The Voice.  Dear lord, can that man sing.  But sing is what he does.  His managers negotiate his contracts, decide his bookings, make arrangements for shows, hire the bus drivers, pick out his clothes and order his food.  They haul his behind around in a bus, chuck him up on stage when they get to the show and then pack him away in ice (or more exactly in the back of the bus with an X-box) until the next stage is ready.  Without his managers, he’d be just a fantastic tenor in the local Lutheran choir someplace.


What I’m wondering is if you or I could recognize this king-maker in our own lives or if that influence might but a might too uncomfortable for us.  Or perhaps you or I were called to be Vulcan to someone else’s metal.  Do you recognize your role?


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8 Responses to It Takes A Wife

  1. whyzat says:

    I’m certainly not that smart, but if I had had someone inspirational in my life, I think I would have become more than I am. Maybe a writer, but my husband was never interested in it and only read my stuff if I guilted him into it. That’s a bit deflating. As for beating someone else into shape, probably not.

  2. When people look at my resume, they don’t realize what an underachiever I am. I have a good professional job and have worked for big-name organizations and companies in the past. But I started out to be an electrical engineer! I changed majors after my freshman year because I didn’t have the discipline to plow through all the math. I went on to get a couple of MAs but haven’t done any research or publishing related to either since getting the degrees.

    I can’t blame other people for my lack of performance or ambition, though. I don’t know if I would have finished the first MA were it not for my ex-wife pushing me, and after it was done, I was sliding along comfortably with a $7/hr job when she started hounding me to look for a career.

    In the job I’m in now, I could have applied for a promotion years ago, but I didn’t get around to it until last year. it would have meant more money and interesting work in those previous years.

    My current wife is very encouraging with my more artistic interests (singing, writing), and I appreciate that.

  3. Sigh….
    Withholding my comment beyond that, for fear of sounding like a maker of excuses.

    But yeah. Sigh.

  4. rushmorejudd says:

    Now I understand why I was never a huge success. Boy, is my wife going to get a piece of my mind when she gets home!

  5. Well spit it out for cripes sake!! What did Tammy do with that gifted gray matter?

  6. Sharkey! says:

    This is my first comment on wordpress. Wow. Sharkey! sez… “it takes a wife”. Yeah, the one thing I can say about my two biggest heartbreaks in Life, as painful as they were, they were both real wives. Women who challenged me to be more than I was on my own. I do a lot better with that person in my world.

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