“Have you seen the grass in the front yard?” asked my wife.
Uh-oh, I thought to myself, here comes trouble.
Whenever my wife stands at the sliding door with her hands on her hips and asks me a question from forty feet away that has no answer in that particular tone of voice, I know trouble is coming.
I was sitting at the patio table, drinking a beer. It was a warm, sunny March afternoon, with spring in the air. We’d spent the day working in the garden, and I was tired. So I’d stopped, had a shower and was now trying to relax with a beer.
“What do you mean?” I asked, trying to be pleasant and feigning interest.
(Like a good husband must now and then.)
“Nothing,” she answered.
The expression on her face said it wasn’t ‘nothing.’
“Then why ask me?” I said. It was silly of me to say that, but I can’t help being logical, even when the occasion is all wrong and it’s the last thing I should be.
Which probably isn’t very logical, now that I think about it.
“I was just in the front yard and it’s as dry as a bone!” she said.
Everywhere we’ve ever been, in any type of weather, she notices and points out the poor, dry, under-watered plants that are perishing all around us. To her, no matter the geography or climate, everything is always as dry as a bone. I call her, usually behind her back but sometimes not, the Water Queen.
“What would you like me to do about it?” I asked, still trying to smile.
“Have you seen it?” she insisted.
“Maybe it’s brown from the frost we had last month,” I suggested.
“No. It’s dry. I was out there working and I can see it’s dry!”
“Well, why don’t you turn on the irrigation and water it, then?”
She didn’t answer.
“You water everything in the yard except the grass,” I said. “What’s so different about the grass? If it needs it, water it!”
“I’m not watering your grass,” she responded simply. I suppose, because I mow and tend it, that in her eyes it’s my grass.
“So, are you scolding me for not watering it?” I said. “Or telling me what to do? You know I hate being ordered about and told what to do!”
“I’m not telling you anything,” she said.
“Then what are you saying?” I ask.
“I’m just saying it needs watering.”
“I’ve done enough for today,” I responded, which however true, was in retrospect another silly thing to say. Why can’t I just smile and nod at her when she complains about things?
“So have I!” she answered, her voice rising. “I’ve been working all day!”
“I’m not denying that. You’ve worked very hard. And it looks beautiful, too. But why mention it if you don’t want me to do anything about it?”
“Forget it!” she said angrily, and walked away.
But now I want to know. What is she complaining about? What does she want of me?
(You see, I actually like to please my wife and do things for her. It’s one of the ways I show my love.)
I got up, leaving my beer, and followed her inside. Which in retrospect was another silly thing to do.
We met in the kitchen. “Why did you mention it, if you don’t want anything?” I asked.
“Why don’t you go and have a smoke?” she sneered. “It’ll make you feel better!”
“I’m trying to give it up, remember?” I said.
(She was right. It probably would make me feel better. It had been eight weeks and three and a half days since my last joint. But who’s counting?)
“Why don’t you show a little support when I’m trying to quit,” I suggested. “Instead of throwing it in my face? You complained when I smoked, now you complain when I don’t!”
She had no answer for that, it being true, so she changed tack. “I’ll call you when the dinner is ready!” she hissed. “That’s all you want! To hear the dinner bell!”
“Huh? What?” Now it was me that had no answer. I’d asked her earlier if she wanted to go out for dinner. She’d said no. She had dinner all planned, she said. She likes to cook. And she’s a good cook, too.
But when she’s angry, I’m a bastard for eating it.
“You’re escalating this!” I said. “What has the dinner bell got to do with watering the blasted grass!” I was losing my temper. “We don’t even have a dinner bell! You’re just bitching now!”
That, even without retrospect, was another bloody stupid thing of me to say.
“You’re not fighting fair!” she accused.
“Is it fair to throw smoking in my face? Or to get snarky about dinner?”
“If you’re acting like this now,” she said sarcastically, “I can’t wait for you to fuck up our vacation like you always do!”
“What?” I was dumbstruck. I hadn’t seen that one coming.
“Yeah!” she said, sensing the upper hand. “You always fuck up our vacations!”
“I don’t fuck it up all by myself,” I insisted. “We do that together!”
“Oh?” she asked with a superior air. “What about Thailand?”
“That elephant stepped on my foot on purpose!” I argued. “I’d run out of bananas!”
“Who knew I was about to sit on a sea turtle in that rocky pool? I’ve still got the scar on my ass where it bit me!”
“Those stray dogs in Pompeii attacked me without warning! It was the marinara sauce I’d spilled on my pants at lunch! Remember?”
“I’d never tried absinthe before. And the elevator ride to the top of the tower made me dizzy!”
“I didn’t know the bulls were running that day!”
“Ah!” I said. “Someone pushed me into that cenote!”
“That glacier was slippery! I blame global warming for that!”
“Crazy kookaburras! I was lucky to escape with my life! You’d figure a golf course was safe enough! But when that cassowary started to attack …”
Etc etc all over the world.
Yes, I lead an adventurous life!
I ended up going out to dinner after all.