A karate wife

When Jack bought the taekwondo school, I had a picture of what it would look like.

He would do his thing, I would do mine. I love my full-time job, and we need both incomes. I’m sure he would ask me my opinion on some things, but for the most part life would continue as it had before we owned the business.

When Jack became a Master, I had a picture of what it would look like.

He would show up in his Silks or Blues to his black belt testings or tournaments, the room would be brought to attention and bow. I would be watching proudly from the audience or possibly from a corner of the gym with a camera. I would be wearing a very cute outfit, perfect just-applied makeup, with not a hair out of place.

I would watch him run his testings or tournaments as I visited breezily with parents, doing my part to help the taekwondo school by being a fantastic, well-put-together karate wife who showed up for every event to watch.

“Gosh,” the parents would say to one another “That Mrs. Hornbuckle is so sweet and supportive, and they have such a wonderful marriage! He’s lucky to have such an alarmingly beautiful woman by his side.”

Stop laughing. You guys are supposed to be my friends.

Over the last few months, though, I have really been learning what a karate wife is.

A karate wife leaves her job every night and comes to his. She files and makes websites and writes black belt curriculum and formats documents and makes charity baskets and does bookkeeping.

A karate wife starts cooking dinner at 10 p.m. after she gets home from her 14-hour work day. She probably doesn’t have time to go to the gym, uh, ever, but at least she’s pretty sure the automatic payment that goes to them burns some calories, anyway.

When there’s a testing coming up, a karate wife may not find out what is needed until the last minute, which will mean a week of hell as she scrambles to try to get everything together that they need.

She will arrange flowers, iron table clothes (that will later be forgotten in the wrong vehicle and therefore unused during the event), print extra scripts, and put together sound files and music.

She already will be running late to that testing, having had a video shoot at real work that day and absolutely no transition time to change her clothes, do something with her awful matted-down hair, or reapply the makeup that wore off hours ago, when she will get a call that the staff is locked out of the facility they have rented until the last minute so they haven’t been able to set up as early as they needed to.

She will help set up tables and chairs, audio equipment, candles, rocks, and tea. She will send people out to get things she forgot at the very last minute, and she will THANK GOD for those people. She will run sound for this event with no rehearsal, all while being very, very nervous something will go wrong.

She will get sent out to the truck last-minute to get a CD after the event has already started, so she will calmly walk out of the gym as people watch, and then RUN WILDLY across the parking lot to get back faster because SHE HAS TO GET BACK IN TIME TO CLICK THE “GONG” SOUND EFFECT IN ABOUT 45 SECONDS.

She will be ripping that CD (because she needs to play it for the ceremony that starts in 10 minutes) while simultaneously paying attention to testing so she can fade sparring music in and out at the appropriate times.

After the event is over, as her husband takes pictures with new black belts and visits with parents, she will help the staff pack up equipment and put tables back, and pick up tiny pieces of trash (and put them in her pocket because there isn’t a trash can around and she’s so classy like that.)

She will go to dinner afterward to visit with the students looking not-at-all like the lovely arm-candy she was hoping to be. She will be disheveled instead of put-together. Frazzled instead of rested.

But then he will look at her, with the look of a man who has been pulled out of the water seconds before he would have drowned, and says “I don’t know what I would do without you.”

And this disheveled karate wife will be so ridiculously proud and honored to be the girl he says that to.

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