That’s how some of my friends see me. But here’s the thing: I don’t mind. In fact, I think it’s kinda cool. Let me explain.
When Ivy and I got married 15 years ago, we held to fairly traditional roles. I worked full time as a newspaper reporter, earning a more-than-adequate salary. And Ivy, a new Philippine immigrant to America, stayed home, maintaining the household and preparing to launch her career.
Then things got turned upside down. I lost my job, and our first child was born, practically in the same month. Almost simultaneously, Ivy’s occupation in the medical field began taking off. And, given that our enormous age gap put me much closer to retirement age anyway, we made a prudent decision: Ivy went to work whole hog while I stayed home caring for our dear little Isaac.
Ok, fast forward several years to the present. Now we reside in the Philippines, where it’s far less expensive to live. And, in service to my still gasping though rapidly declining masculine ego, let me just say this: it was my life savings that paid for both the house we built here and the one we still maintain in Southern California. And too, during much of the year we live fairly comfortably on my somewhat adequate (at least by Philippine standards) Social Security income and newspaper pension.
Ah, but then there are those other months. Like the ones coming up, scarred by the absence of several million pesos spent repairing our home in the wake of 2021’s calamitous Typhoon Odette. Or the humongous legal fees paid in an agonizing Siargao Island land dispute we’ve been fighting now for many years. Not to mention the painful stretch required to pay the growing monthly electric bills for our increasingly buzz-worthy household.
Recently Ivy embarked on her annual pilgrimage to America to spend several months working as a traveling clinical laboratory scientist, for which hospitals pay her obscenely high fees. So, once again, I am reduced to the status of a stay-at-home dad taking care of our boy.
That reality got a big laugh during a recent book tour when I explained it this way to a largely Filipino audience: “We are engaged in a reversal of roles. My Filipino wife in America sends money to her American husband in the Philippines.”
Boy, what a roar! Because it doesn’t usually go that way, does it; mostly it’s the other way around. Which fits perfectly into the “reverse diaspora” theme I’m pushing for this new book entitled (hint, hint) “A Tooth in My Popsicle.”
“I think the feminists in the crowd really loved that line,” my public relations guy gushed.
I must sheepishly admit, however, to not being overly enamored of my newly retrieved designation as a trophy husband. A trophy wife, of course, is defined by Wikipedia as “a young, attractive wife regarded as a status symbol for an older man.” Trophy husbands are a bit more complicated: “A younger, attractive man in a relationship with an older, wealthier person?” Nope! Or, how about this: “The partner of a narcissist who’s only around to boost a narcissist’s ego?” Nope, nope, nope!!
Ah, but here’s one that sort of applies: “A trophy husband can also refer to a stay-at-home dad.”
And so we circle back to where we started more than a decade ago. Isaac is almost a teenager now, which makes me fear that serving as a trophy husband may soon prove far more difficult than being a clinical laboratory scientist.
Remind me to ask Ivy if she’d like to switch roles.
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David Haldane’s latest book, “A Tooth in My Popsicle,” is available on Amazon and Lazada. A former Los Angeles Times staff writer, he is an award-winning journalist, author, essayist, and broadcaster with homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Northern Mindanao, Philippines, where this column appears weekly in the Gold Star Daily.