Desperately Seeking Solitude or The Throne Room of the Castle

Posted on 2011 November 22 Tuesday


I need to make a disclaimer first: I love my life as it currently is and have no need or reason to complain about any aspect of it. All my needs are met and the majority of my wants.

That being said, I am a man alone. Except for the 3-4 women in my house. I know, 3-4 women sounds odd, but I’ll fill in the blanks. Three days out of the week, my wonderful and incredibly amazing Mother-in-law stays with us so she can help watch my precocious, (scarily) intelligent, sweet-natured 3 1/2+ year old(going on 16?) daughter, The Mouse, while my loving and beautiful Wife works those days. My own work schedule is at best chaotic. At worst.. well, that’s another story. So, that being said, I am a man alone. Or at least, sometimes, I wish I could be.

An old maxim states, “For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man’s home is his safest refuge].” (Source material, origin and some discussion of it here, but I digress). All castles have a seat of power, referred to as a ‘throne’. And, we all know, that each home has a ‘throne-room’. My house has three. There is the throne room in my and my Wife’s bedroom, the (guest) throne room in the main hall and the smaller (auxiliary?) throne room off the kitchen by the garage. And necessity dictates that we utilize the various throne rooms on a daily basis. Yes. That throne room.

Now, when my Wife and I first got married, as a mark of closeness (and the fact we only had one throne room in those days), we often occupied the throne room at the same time, taking care of our various duties(Yes, I pun. Get over it). Life was good. There was no uncomfortableness (well, occasionally, but I didn’t realize how those moments were harbingers of the future). We are both educated, intelligent people and when nature and necessity call, we took care of business, wrapped up our paperwork and filed it properly. We didn’t even argue about the lid. The only weirdness, perhaps, was that it wasn’t weird. I guess it became… odd… after The Mouse was born. Well, perhaps a little later than that. After The Mouse became mobile. And verbal. And the addition of the fourth female.

I mistakenly assumed(unintentional pun) that, especially since we moved into a larger house with the aforementioned three thrones, not only would the flow (intentional pun) of traffic decrease, I would gain some measure of solitude when occupying the throne. Perhaps engage in some contemplation of the various facets of the universe and existential existence. Catch up on some light reading. Heavy reading if the occasion demanded it. Shampoo bottles, etc. can be enlightening. Yep, Life was going to be good. Apparently I was wrong.

Now the easiest change in the Game of Thrones (my apologies to George R. R. Martin. I love that series of books, by the way) was my Mother-in-law. She came in and has been a tremendous help with the caring and raising of my daughter. I cannot tell you how much I treasure this woman and am so proud of the influence she is having on my daughter (I mean, I married HER daughter. How could she NOT be a good influence on her grand-daughter?). We pretty much have an unspoken agreement that the thrones on the opposite ends of the castle are sacrosanct, at least as long as both of us are in the castle. And we certainly would never think of intentionally disrupting the contemplation of the other while said other is on the throne. It is actually a matter we have never discussed. Ever. In fact I’m getting uncomfortable just writing about it. ‘Nuff said.

Now, for The Wife. Now, agreed we ‘share’ the throne room off our bedroom. It is (amusingly) referred to as the Master Bath in most circles of my acquaintance. Being a male has advantages in regards to the number and amount of items necessary in use of the room in the larger sense (I will gladly admit that I enjoy rather longer than average showers). And the very act of a continuation of sharing this space can be considered to be a necessity of both habit and marital bliss. So, status quo. Sort of. Perhaps it is borne of my erratic work schedule, but, invariably, whether announced or not (Yes, we do announce the intention and activity we are attempting. Not every time. No I don’t know why. Courtesy perhaps? In case help needs to be summoned?), her need for conversation and interaction seems to rise inversely proportionate to the desire for solitude and/or intensity of the Call of Duty(wow… video game reference AND a pun!). Perhaps she is just concerned for my well-being. Anyway. There seemed (and seems) to be an increase in this correlation  after the move and the subsequent birth of The Mouse.

So, a short time after moving into the new castle, The Mouse was born. As all children eventually do, The Mouse became mobile. And verbal. My darling daughter’s loquacity is a direct result of both genetic pools. I love the language. The Wife loves using the language. A lot. Voraciously, actually (this also is an oddity as one of the first ‘comments’ about her I ever made during our courtship was how quiet she was… turns out she was just a little shy… or sneaky… Sorry. Digression again).  And we began potty training The Mouse as soon as was deemed appropriate. Now those of you with children understand the enormity of this part of the child-rearing process. Those of you without children, well imagine if you had never been trained to properly utilize the throne. Or just visit a public facility sometime and see how many people seem to have failed at this training (Sorry for that image). It actually has been pretty painless process. The Mouse is quite adept at taking care of business. And is also quite proud of it. And vocal. And wants to share. In public. Loudly. Especially with her Poppa. Apparently it falls among my various jobs and titles to also be Grand-Chief-Inspector of all things poopy. I actually got a phone call from her and The Wife while at work one day. The Mouse was insistent on this. The Wife was highly amused. I was in front of a class at the time. They also were amused. So. It has, particularly for The Mouse, become a familial affair to utilize the throne. And apparently that also means that sharing of the throne room. At anytime. I sit down on the throne all the time now. Saves any potential collateral damage in case of sudden incursions in the mistaken belief of the sanctity and solitude of the throne room. And embarrassing anatomical questions that I’m not quite sure how to address quite yet.

Those of you that have been keeping track realize I have only mentioned three specific women in my household, while at the opening of the article I mentioned that, periodically, the tally is four. I’ll wait while you scroll up and check. [Waiting. Humming a little tune. Oh. Hi. You’re back.] The fourth female in the house is Lucy. Lucy is our dog. Lucy just turned 1 in September. September 1st, actually. We had a party for her. Just the immediate family. Lucy had her own little cake. Now, realize something here. Despite The Mouse’s insistence and talking about her “sweet, cute little puppy,” Lucy is not a petite animal. She is not a small dog. Lucy is not a medium sized nor even a large dog. Lucy is an Old English Mastiff. Lucy passed large about 3 months ago. I can’t pick her up in my arms to weigh her, so I’m not exactly sure how much she weighs now. I know it’s not polite to discuss a woman’s weight in public (or private), but I’m guessing  Lucy weighs in the neighborhood of 160 pounds. Lucy can reach the top of our dining room table with out stretching. She can almost reach the top of the kitchen counter without stretching. Remember the earthquake a couple of weeks back? I thought she was scratching herself against my recliner. The Wife thought I was shaking the couch. Lucy was sleeping in her crate in The Mouse’s room. She’s a big girl.

Now, what, may you ask does this wonderful canine member of the household have to do with the discussion of thrones and solitude? Apparently, being a full vested member of the family, while she, does not utilize the throne, she apparently still feels it is her obligation, if she notices I am not present, to investigate for my whereabouts. Including the throne room.  I was standing with my back to the door one time taking care of some urgent business. I thought I was alone. For such a large animal, she can be very quiet. And a dog’s nose truly is cold and wet. And Mastiff’s slobber. A lot. I’m glad there is tile in the Master Bath. (Please don’t make me draw a picture.) And while the Wife’s, and even the Mouse’s presence can be understood in the visitation of the throne room while I am attending to affairs of state, can I just say it is a little awkward when all three of the females (excluding my Mother-in-law, of course) attempt to engage in interaction with me at the same time?

“For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man’s home is his safest refuge].” You know, I’m willing to bet whoever came up with that idea originally had some other room in mind for the safest refuge. It certainly wasn’t the throne room. Heavy weighs the crown, but the throne room  is never lonely.