My husband calls me Merkin.
Sometimes it’s shortened to Merks, or elongated (impossibly) to Merkleton Turkleton, or Merks the Turks, but the root word is always there, casting a furry glow on my marital nickname.
To be fair, I call him Crab. I’ve been calling him that since our College Park days, and I’d like to see a show of hands of our friends who don’t have him filed away as such in their phones.
But Crab fits. He’s a salty sailor, and his disposition ranges from the excitable flipping crabs on the Camden Yards jumbo-tron to the flash of anger you see in a blue crab’s beady little eyes as you rip it away from the raw chicken and string you caught it with.
For Christmas, I bought him the print above. I was trolling fab.com and stopped in my tracks because Mm is for MERKIN and a cat wearing a wig. It was like all my nickname protests got jumbled together and created a rat king, and the rat king was this poster. I laid down my sword and put the print in my cart and now it’s on our wall.
Rob and I tend to live in a vacuum, and things like “other people” don’t really come into play sometimes. Like when we put a cat wearing a wig on top of the word Merkin on our wall. It was a gesture from me to him that okay you win, call me this in the privacy of our own lives, it’s obviously meant to be. Turns out these “other people” can see it just as well as we can. Most notably Lisa, my mother in law.
Lisa popped by on Saturday after seeing John Waters at the Meryerhoff to drop off some color-printed Downton Abbey Bingo cards because I pulled the winning number in the mother in law lottery. She asked what a “merkin” is, and while we stammered, our friend Lauren busted into the room and said, “Look. It’s a pubic wig.”
Lisa laughed, and the next day we woke up to several emails in which she chronicled her investigation and findings of the history and practical uses of the merkin. “It’s important to learn something new every day…” she wrote.
And so, with two generations of Tate’s approving, my fate will be forever intertwined with the merkin.
But so will Rob’s.
When I sweetly, adorably, call him Crab at dinner parties, work events, eventual parent-teacher conferences, he will one day slip up and respond with “Yes, Merkin, my love?”
And I will be there to pick up all the fallen faces when he does.