Ode to My Hipster Friend and My Vanilla Husband
I had dressed up. High heels and my new Coach purse just purchased at an outlet store. I asked for a vodka cranberry, and you rolled your eyes and ordered a gin and tonic. We were at The Pawn Shop, a basement music venue on Whyte Avenue. I glanced around at the crowd and felt out of place. Everyone looked so cool. Alternative. Underground. Tattoos. Band T-shirts. Scarves and plaid. Beards. Converse and boots. Effortless. I felt conspicuous with my shiny new bag and pink drink.
You were cool. The type of girl who introduced you to bands you hadn't heard of yet, who drank G&Ts, who shopped at thrift stores, not outlet malls. I was dating Jon, my now-husband, and I think you were in between boyfriends. I don't remember how it came up, but you shouted over the driving beat, "Jon is so vanilla." I didn't know what to say. I think I just nodded. I knew exactly what you meant, and I knew it wasn't proffered as a compliment.
Vanilla tends to get a bad rap. But what kind of ice cream do you want with your apple pie or berry crisp? I bet it's trusty ol' vanilla. Simple. Classic. Vanilla isn't fancy, but it plays well with others. I suppose Jon could be described as vanilla or perhaps All-American. If I had to name an ice cream after him, though, I think I'd call it "Salt-of-the-earth-caramel".
Jon's not bland or boring, but he's a straightforward guy. He doesn't have any tattoos or piercings. He wears jeans and T-shirts and ball caps. He loves sports and classic rock. He even cops to enjoying a little Nickelback on occasion. Of all the bands he's been in, not one of them has included a banjo. He prefers Tim Horton's coffee to most trendy hole-in-the-wall coffee shops. He does appreciate a craft cocktail, and he will check out dimly-lit, Edison-bulbed restaurants serving local, artisanal, deconstructed nonsense with me. But he would really prefer a burger. He watches the news every morning, mows the lawn, shovels the snow. His hands are big and calloused. He doesn't own a pair of skinny jeans or a scarf.
And lately our life is certainly more suburban than rock 'n roll. Diapers, naps, snacks, playdates, laundry and dishes - on repeat. A vanilla life.
We've lost touch, and I'm not sure what flavour of guy you're dating now. Maybe a roasted strawberry and balsamic drizzle man. Or a honey lavender guy. Or a vegan elderflower fella. Maybe he's a little less edgy. Just strawberry. Or chocolate with sprinkles. Whatever the case may be, I hope he gets you a coffee and pours you a bowl of cereal every morning. I hope he's a good listener. I hope he makes you laugh and doesn't take himself too seriously. I hope he could help an old lady change a tire on the side of the road if need be. I hope he makes you feel safe. If you choose to have children, I hope your heart nearly bursts as you watch him father them. I hope he is selfless, humble, loyal and kind. Witty and generous and encouraging. Dependable, patient and compassionate. Just like my vanilla guy.