The sexiest trait a man can have

When Smarty Pants and I were living in Prague, we got caught in sudden summer thunderstorm during a picnic. We had only a few seconds’ warning before the clouds rolled in and torrential, frigid rain pounded down on us.

We threw our food back in the basket and ran for the closest cover: a copse of trees. Soaked through, we hugged each other and shivered, waiting until the rain passed. I felt Smarty Pants trying to tug the back of my pants down, something I thought was odd since we were outside, it was broad daylight, and he’s a pretty reserved Brit when it comes to public displays of affection.

Then I realized I also felt Smarty Pants’ hands on my upper back. Two hands.

He wasn’t the one pulling my pants down.

I jerked out of his arms in time to see a tiny animal, like a rat, drop from where it had clung to my wasitband. “Frickin’ hell! A rat! A giant, nasty rat!”

Prague rat catcher

But as I looked closer at the little thing shivering in the mud, I saw it wasn’t a rat. It was a very young puppy. A Prazsky kyrsarik (Prague ratter, or Prague ratcatcher).

It’d had clearly been terrified by the thunder and run away from its owners. We’d been standing next to a low wall that was holding an embankment, so this baby must have run down the hill and launched itself at me.

I picked her up and fell in love.

I cradled her shaky body against my chest until the storm passed, and then we walked around the park looking for her owner. No one seemed to recognize her.

We took her home, got food from friends, and tried to figure out what to do. I wanted to keep her, and she clearly wanted to keep me. She refused to be separated from me. I named her Little Buddha since she had a cute tummy. Smarty Pants called her Yoda.

And then he sneezed.

And sneezed again.

And I remembered we’d just signed a lease on an apartment that had an absolutely-no-pets clause.

Some of my Czech students told me about the local humane society, so Smarty Pants and I decided to take her there. We took a bus through a forest, then walked a couple of miles from the last stop with my little baby prancing at our feet, totally clueless that we were about to drop her off in the hopes that her real owners would find her.

She cried when I left, and my heart broke. I actually felt it shatter into tiny pieces as Smarty Pants put his arms around me and led me away from the building and back through the woods. After about a mile, I was inconsolable. I’d worked myself into such a sobbing, messy state that snot bubbled out of my nose and my face was covered in tears and God knows what else.

Nothing Smarty Pants said helped. Half way through our walk, I wiped my nose with the back of my hand and smeared myself with snot. Smarty Pants (who, fortunately, isn’t easily grossed out or he would’ve dumped me long ago), stopped me in the middle of the road and lifted the hem of his t-shirt.

“I don’t have a handkerchief,” he said, “but you can use my t-shirt.”

“O-o-ok-ay,” I sniffled before leaning over, grasping the belly of his shirt, and blowing my nose with a tremendous honk. As I wiped the rest of the snot off my cheeks, I noticed he’d gone completely still. I looked up into his carefully blank face.

“I meant…to wipe your eyes.”

I laughed so hard I nearly pissed myself.

That was over eight years ago. This week, he and I sat at a hospital in LA with my grandparents for nearly three days as my grandpa fought a serious blood infection and was prepared for surgery. Grandma refused to leave his side except for a few hours at night to sleep. We were there to make sure Grandma took breaks to eat, walk around, and had people she could lean on. We fielded calls and kept the family and their friends up to date through every gut-wrenching turn in Grandpa’s health.

I was doing fine, keeping busy, until the doctor met with me and Grandma at Grandpa’s bedside and told us more about his condition. She gestured to me and said, “If you had this blood infection, it would be serious.”

She left unspoken: Holy crap, he’s 90 years old. This is going to be freakin’ tough for him to fight.

I walked back to the waiting room to give my grandparents time alone. And I broke down in Smarty Pants’ arms. I buried my face in his chest and sobbed. He held me for several quiet minutes before whispering, “I’m wearing a t-shirt under this jumper.”

Forget a six-pack; the sexiest trait a man can have is the ability to make you laugh when you feel like your world’s caving in.

What do you think is the sexiest trait a man can have?


  1. First of all, my thoughts are with you and your family and your Grandfather. I’m glad you’re all together during this difficult time.

    Second, you obviously write best when you’re under stress and you just write. As a post, this is absolutely brilliant–funny, sad, heart-warming, endearing.

    Third of all, your Mr. Smarty Pants definitely sounds like a keeper. I wouldn’t even let my own kids blow their noses on me. Not on purpose, anyway. But a jumper? Really? Am I missing something here?

    Finally, and not to one-up you, but my Mr. Smarty Pants cooks eggs benedict for me. That’s pretty sexy for an old guy. Of course, I won’t let him wear a jumper while he’s doing it. I have standards. And anyway, he’s not a PHD, so it wouldn’t be the same.

    1. Ha! Jumper is just the British word for sweater. And now that he’s a lecturer, he definitely does rock the jumper look, even more than before. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      The ability to make eggs Benedict is a fantastic trait. Any man who’s good in the kitchen is all right with me.

      Glad you liked the post, Kaki. Hope you have a wonderful new year!

  2. OMG, this had me giggling so hard (his reaction to you blowing your nose in his shirt) that I almost peed in my pants! And then I just melted at the end. Humor is definitely a very sexy trait. He sounds like a hero to me. My thoughts are with you during this hard time, but I’m glad you have Smarty Pants with you to help you through it — you are so lucky!

  3. First of all, sending positive thoughts to you and your family, especially your grandfather. {{hugs}} So glad to hear you’ve all pulled together during this difficult time.

    Brilliant post! Your Smarty Pants is definitely a keeper. And a jumper! Love it, LOL, outside of Dr. Who I haven’t heard anyone use that since my grandmother passed.

    I have to agree with you on the humor when your world is crashing down on you as one of the sexiest.

    All the best for 2012!

  4. Well…clearly Smarty Pants is a keeper…lol….My thoughts are with you and your family as you go through this difficult time.

  5. I am glad for you that you have your Smarty Pants, esp right now when you need him so, I have my American version, and he used to have the 6 pack abs too, but that wasn’t what made me fall in love with him, it was his ability to make me laugh even when I don’t want to laugh, and laugh until I am crying from laughing not hurting, it is a wonderful trait in a man.

    1. it was his ability to make me laugh even when I donโ€™t want to laugh, and laugh until I am crying from laughing not hurting

      This is so wonderfully expressed! Love it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. i laughed out loud & my boss looked at me funny. he’s definitely a keeper! as i was reading this, i wondered what i would call my hubby to keep his anonymity & properly describe him & i’ve decided on grumpy pants. ๐Ÿ™‚ have a great weekend!

    1. Oh my God – I love Grumpy Pants! That’s wonderful, Dixie. You just made me laugh out loud, too. (Fortunately no bosses around. :))

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