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~Archives:  if Ronnee wants to put it up, you can Archive it.

 

~completely unbeta’d.  All mistakes are mine.  Obviously.  ;-)

 

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~For Scott, who never wants to be the “hubby”.

 

@>~~,`~~~

 

How Not To Be A Squeaky Toy:

Or the Husband Syndrome

by

Toni Rae

March 2001

 

**********

 

“If I ever get remarried again, I am praying that she does not refer to me as ‘hubby’.”

 

**********

 

“Carolyn!  So good to see you!”  The booming voice rang out across the small ballroom.  Its owner – a older, slightly portly gentleman, the half-empty Scotch and soda in his hand clearly not his first – leaned in to kiss the air near her cheek.

 

Turning slightly, his eyes alighted on the tall man standing next to her.  With a sly wink, he turned, even as he continued to address Carolyn.  “And this must be the new hubby.”

 

“Yes.  Dave Johnson, Jim Ellison.”  Carolyn made the necessary introductions between the two men.

 

The formalities dispensed with, the conversation began to ebb and flow among the small group.  As new people joined them new rounds of introductions were made.

 

None of the other bystanders noticed the slightly pained look that appeared on the tall man’s face, or the slight blush that stained his cheeks, each time one of her friends called him hubby.

 

**********

 

He grasped the pen more firmly in his right hand and signed his name to the bottom of the form with relish.  When he made the final strokes of the date, he heaved a short sigh and recapped the pen.

 

Finally signing the papers made everything so final.  But then, their marriage had been over long before the official paperwork ever showed up on his desk.

 

You know, one good thing about this, she won’t get to call me hubby anymore.

 

He carefully placed the now signed forms back in the envelope and carefully sealed it.  Grabbing his jacket off the coat rack behind his desk, he headed for the post office. 

 

As he dropped the envelope into the night depository box – after carefully weighing it for correct postage – he mentally closed and locked the door behind which he stored the memories and emotions of his defunct marriage.

 

**********

 

“Kathleen Holmes.  Why I haven’t seen you in ages.”  The high-pitched voice rang out across the restaurant, bringing the observation of several other diners at nearby tables.

 

“Actually, it’s Ellison now.”  Kathleen, spared a rueful glance towards the man sitting next to her.

 

“Then you must be the new hubby.”  The woman turned her attentions towards the man at the table.  Her eyes were clearly enjoying his finer attributes.  “Aren’t you the lucky one?”  Her words were directed at Kathleen this time.

 

A faint blush began to tinge his cheeks at the overly frank appraisal.

 

“No.”

 

“No?”  Jim couldn’t prevent the startled exclamation from escaping his lips at his wife’s answer.

 

“This is my husband, Jim Ellison.”  Katy emphasized the word husband, her meaning clear.

 

“Oh.”  The other woman was suddenly at a loss for words.

 

At this moment, if possible, Jim fell even deeper in love with his wife.  He was never going to be just the hubby to her.  For some inexplicable reason, that knowledge pleased him immensely.

 

**********

 

“You get to be the husband.”  The small girl looked up at the older boy, her three year old face a mask of anticipation.

 

“As long as I don’t have to be the hubby.”  He answered almost without thinking.  For whatever reason, his father had always been adamant about not being called hubby – not to mention Uncles Jim and Blair.  As he uttered the words, his mind almost distractedly catalogued the fact that he was repeating words previously uttered by most of the men in his family.

“Okay.”  Her entire face lit up in a smile at his acceptance.  Ian had always been really good about playing with her – when he wasn’t being her Guide – but she had been a little worried that “playing house” might be too much to ask of the older boy.  “But we live downstairs.”  She reached over and took his hand to lead him down the basement stairs. 

 

He took great pleasure in the lightening of her face.  She had looked so earnest, her small figure held rigid, as if she were afraid he’d refuse.  But he’d agreed.  He could tell that surprised her by the widening of her eyes.  He’d always liked the younger girl – and wasn’t too proud to show it.

 

The loft was newly renovated, at least parts of it were, and she was eager to show him the new playroom.  And what better way to inaugurate it then with a game of house.

 

In the kitchen, a grin broke out on the face of one of the adults.  Seeing the questions in his friends’ eyes, he explained.  “McKenna and Ian are playing house.  But he doesn’t want to be the hubby.”

 

Soft chuckles filled the room and knowing smiles crossed the faces of the three men.

 

**********

 

“You get to be the husband.”  McKenna turned to the older boy with a slight smile on her face.  The often spoken words of their childhood play times slipping easily from her lips.  The two months they’d been apart had been hard for her – and him too, at least she hoped – and she took refuge in the easy banter of their childhood.  This was the longest they’d been apart since she was born, and she was a cross between nervous and excited.

 

“That’s fine, as long as I don’t have to be the hubby.”  Ian easily returned her smile, as he vocalized the easy response.  He was grateful for her easy words, their meaning far deeper than just a little girl’s invitation to play house. 

 

Grabbing her hand, he carefully placed a small ring with a bright green stone on the ring finger of her left hand.

 

“For real?”  She looked up at him with tears in her eyes.

 

“For real.  We’ve known it forever, this just makes it official.”  His smile widened as the knowledge that he’d been able to surprise her sank in.

 

“So, what do you say McKenna?”  Ian bent down on one knee in the formal proposal position.  “Will you marry me?”  He knew the answer, but felt the importance of the moment needed to be preserved.

 

“Of course,” all the love she had for the man standing in front of her, shining in her eyes.

 

“Just promise me I’ll never have to be the hubby.”  Ian’s smile vanished as he stood and then leaned down to kiss her gently.

 

“Never.”  She breathed, before deepening the kiss.

 

**********

 

“McKenna Ellison.  Why I haven’t seen you for ages.”  The tall blonde man swooped over to the couple standing just inside the doorway of the small curio shop.

 

“Actually, it’s Rafe now.”  McKenna spoke the words shyly, still not quite accustomed to the idea that she was now officially married to her childhood sweetheart and best friend.

 

“Congratulations.”  The man turned slightly, “And this must be the new hubby.”

 

“No, this is my husband, Ian.”  McKenna grinned over to her husband, not surprised to find an answering expression on his face.

 

There was no doubt that the word hubby was forever going to be taboo in their family.

 

finis