Lee Lynch’s recent book, An American Queer: The Amazon Trail, A Quarter Century of Queer Life in the United States, is now a Lambda Literary Award Finalist for nonfiction.
By Lee Lynch
My sweetheart called herself a helicopter wife and I laughed. Not long ago we couldn’t even marry. Now we get to legally hover.
I begged to differ. She is no such thing.
She offered an example: the multiple times she asks when my medical, dental, whatever appointments are scheduled.
That’s helping, I protested.
Maybe the first three times, she responded. By the fifth or sixth time it gets annoying.
One of my standard responses: If you say so. Another: We’ll see. I think I was meant to be a spouse along the lines of my nearly silent father.
Then I started thinking. What is a helicopter wife/husband, really?
Is s/he the person who sleeps in a hospital chair all night after you have surgery?
Is she the one who digs holes for you when you have a bad back/shoulder/knee or all of the above, even though you’re the one who ordered native plants and trees months ago from the Conservation District?
Does the helicopter husband always check to see if your dinner is hot enough? Seasoned right? Pleasing?
Does she serve as your alarm clock?
He always listens to the emergency scanner when you’re out and about, right? And checks before you leave to be sure your cells are both on with the volume high?
Is that what helicopter spouses do?
And the straight, god-fearing neighbors, do they tell you you’re the cutest couple they’ve ever seen? Always out walking together, deep in conversation, making each other laugh, a pleasant greeting for everyone? Rotors spinning all the while.
Do you keep her enthralled with poetry and does she email you romantic Fred Astaire clips?
You seldom see a doctor alone, share test results, build duplicate med lists. She makes certain you have time to write, protects you from interruptions, apologises with urgent questions.
Every little outing is a vacation, a sunny adventure even in the rain.
Does he insist on walking the suspension bridge before you to make certain it’s safe? Do you always walk on the outside to protect her? Does each of you grab the other’s sleeve before you cross the street and look both ways?
The orange Coast Guard helicopters often rumble overhead here. Our community is fighting to keep one stationed at this port although Homeland Security has siphoned off the funds. Our fishing boats count on that copter. It rescues disabled crab crafts, surfers caught in rip tides, panicked captains of recreational boats and tourists with no sense of rising tides and rough surf. Also, people lost in the county and Coast Range, motorists who plummet down beach cliffs. Come the tsunami, it’ll probably drop food and water to our hilltop neighborhood.
Helicopters can be loud and scary, human helicopters can suffocate and irritate. Yet she makes reserves the flights, gets us from point A to point B, drives frequently wet streets in the dark, while I can’t see the white line. I’d fight to keep my helicopter wife and the Coast Guard flying rescue machine.
Just three minutes ago she knew, just walking in the door, that I’m having a health issue. I get to apply Band aids to her owies and remind her to take her vitamins. One or the other of us would forever be leaving the house without a Fitbit if no copter hovered, orange or not.
We might never again eat a vegetable (aren’t Cheetos vegetables?). Helicopter partner wants one around for a long time and sadly that involves mandatory vegetables—at least one gets the option of stir-fry or salad. If only there was a good commercial Russian dressing with which to smother the raw greens.
We also might never renew our prescriptions on time. Or take a walk or get to sleep before 4:00 AM. Or stop working on our various projects long enough to stretch and breathe.
When we go out, no instructions are given about how to dress. That’s not to say there isn’t an inspection awaiting with a yea or a nay or back to the drawing board. I pack my own suitcase for travel while she sets up a spreadsheet. She color codes my activities so I show up where I should and when.
Has your husband ever bought a computer? Much easier to monitor his choice by gifting him with laptops and tablets you love. Does she ask you where to hang the philodendron, then decide on the correct placement?
I’m telling you, helicopter partners are a blessing to us all. I never wanted to be a wife, much less marry a helicopter. If I’d known there was such a being, I would have run like Cary Grant in the cornfields of “North By Northwest.” I had enough of fluttering wings as an overprotected kid. My sweetheart is a partner, not a parent.
Yet, when I look at a list of loving, helicoptery nags—urging her to schedule medical appointments for her health, to see the dentist, to get out of the house before, not after, an event, to send out the taxes, to find her job openings—I have to admit it: I’m a helicopter wife too!
Lee’s new book, An American Queer: The Amazon Trail, A Quarter Century of Queer Life in the United States, is available at Bold Strokes Books and on Amazon.
Lee Lynch’s most recent novels, The Raid and Beggar of Love, are published by Bold Strokes Books. She is the namesake and first recipient of The Lee Lynch Classic Award for The Swashbuckler. She’s been honored with the Golden Crown Literary Society Trailblazer Award, the Alice B. Reader Award, induction into the Saints and Sinners Literary Hall of Fame, the James Duggins Mid-Career Award, and, for Beggar of Love, the Lesbian Fiction Readers Choice Award, the Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award, and Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews.