This past Sunday, November 17th, 2013 was the 7th anniversary of my marriage to Sara Stevenson “Wife Head” Scrimshaw.
If you’re not familiar with my story about kissing a bear (now featured on my comedy album Flaw Fest) you’re probably thinking, “Wow. ‘Wife Head’ is one hell of a weird nickname, and you, Joseph Scrimshaw, might be an asshole.”
And you would be partially right. Like a lot of humans, I live in a quantum state in which I might, at any moment, be an asshole.
I’m happy to report I was not an asshole on our anniversary. We went to a nice restaurant, took pictures of our food, ate our food, and then saw the wonderful romantic comedy, Thor 2. We totally shipped Thor-Loki.
Then we went to Target. Every anniversary we buy ourselves small presents based on what Wikipedia claims the anniversary gifts should be. This year was copper, wool, and desk sets. We bought a copper colored candle, wool socks, and a desk top hour glass. Last year, it was iron and candy so we got an Iron Man Pez Dispenser.
I spent a good chunk of the anniversary thinking about the phrase “Wife Head” and the strange, powerful part it’s played in my life over the last few years. I realized I’ve never really written down the whole chain of events, so here goes.
“Please remember to listen to your Wife Head” is a real phrase my real wife, Sara, really said to me several years ago. She meant that I should imagine there is a tiny, fairy like version of her perched on my shoulder who helpfully reminds me to be safe, careful, and not an asshole. Wife Head does not judge or harp, she just wants to help.
After one of the times Sara mentioned Wife Head, I did not listen to Wife Head. I went and did something stupid in the woods with a bear while filming a commercial.
A few years after the actual bear incident, I decided to do a comedy bit about it. But I couldn’t quite find the right idea to tie it all together.
Then I remembered Wife Head. The inclusion of Wife Head in the bit made it all work.
I did the bit at several shows including a storytelling show at Minnesota Public Radio and w00tstock at the San Diego Comic-Con.
I really liked the Wife Head/bear bit because it was an odd mix of stand-up comedy, storytelling, and horrible confession.
The bit inspired me to do the show that became Flaw Fest–a comedy show about all of my horrible flaws.
When I decided to record the show for a comedy album I also decided (I guess because I hate free time) that it wasn’t enough to just record a comedy album. I also asked a bunch of musicians to write songs inspired by the bits in the show.
I made a big list of cool musicians I know. I had met John Munson when I was doing some writing and performing at Wits and he had recently asked me to be a guest for his holiday show with The New Standards. John is an amazing musician with a wry sense of humor and an all around awesome guy. Not only is he the bandleader for Wits and a current member of The New Standards, he was also a member of these bands you might have heard of called Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic.
I put him at the bottom of my list for “people I should ask but I think they’ll probably be too busy and say no.”
Sara looked at the list and said, “What are you talking about? Send him an email right now.”
I was veering toward being a stupid, self-defeating asshole and Wife Head gently suggested I make a different choice.
To our delight, John said yes right away. Once I had all the musicians lined up, I told them there were a couple of phrases and topics from the show I really wanted covered.
One of them was “Wife Head.” John grabbed “Wife Head” right away.
The song John delivered is one of my favorites on the final album. It’s a bad ass rock song with a killer hook played by amazing musicians and it has a theme anyone in a relationship can relate to–that wise partner who is just trying to look out for you.
But it’s got even more weight for me than that. Sara had been a fan of John’s work with Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic for a long time. She loves the song as much as I do. During some of the hard times, the grueling hours of work we both put in to make the idea of the album a reality, Sara and I would listen to John’s rough demo of “Wife Head” and smile.
There was now a song in the world inspired by my wife by one of her favorite musicians.
Now we have a new anniversary tradition. We’ll still take pictures of our nice meal and eat it. We’ll still buy a bunch of weird shit at Target because Wikipedia said we should. We’ll still see romantic comedies like Guardians of the Galaxy or The Bourne Whatever.
We’ll also spend a few minutes on our anniversary rocking out to “Wife Head.”
Thanks, John. Thanks, Sara. Thanks, supportive fans, friends, and musicians who made the album happen.
Thanks, Wife Head.
If you’d like to check out Flaw Fest you can find it on Bandcamp here. The Wife Head comedy track is called “Stubborn Bears.” And if you just want to listen to the Wife Head song, turn up your speakers real loud and stream the shit out of track 16.