Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Six Down, Five to Go

I am so screwed when Wifey gets back. And not in the good "she spent days strolling through erotic lingerie boutiques looking for things to please her adoring husband" way, but in the bad "I made the travel plans which have turned her life into a living hell" way.

I am so screwed.

The day started promisingly enough as I rolled over and realized that my cold had finally been vanquished. Hallelujah!

Ah, the Chinese. Is there anything they can't do? They've given us 9% GDP, one and a half billion people, and Charlie Chan. I think they may be the greatest civilization ever.

Well, except America, but that goes without saying.

I finally dragged my sorry butt out of bed around 9 AM and found the children amusing themselves quietly downstairs. It's Armistice Day here, see, so I don't have work and they don't have school.

And in honor of Armistice Day, angry spouses should forgive their husbands and let bygones be bygones instead of planning another Krystallnacht focused amost exclusively on their spouse's scrotum. Right, sweetie?

What's more, I had decided to tackle a problem which has crept up and is threatening to destroy our marriage: the plugged back gutter. It's about twenty feet up off the ground, but located beneath the copiously foliaged tree of death, which means that when we get heavy rains in the fall it overflows directly onto the skylight that is just above the spot on the couch where Wifey likes to sit. And of course, this makes the skylight leak.

But I had already decided that this week, to surprise Wifey, I would resolve the problem so that when she came back she could sit on the couch without using an umbrella. So even though it was heavily windy and forty degrees outside and my day off and slightly spitting rain, I cleaned the gutter, and the problem is solved!

Or to be more accurate, I paid the two polish laborers a hundred euros to clean the gutter in the back. There were three of them, but one guy lost his footing on the ladder and plummeted to a grisly death. I didn't mind, though, because it saved me fifty euros and reminded me that every moment is precious, and we need to savor it instead of throwing it away foolishly cleaning gutters and vacuuming.

So there's definitely no way I'm going to touch that front light now.

After that the children and I cleaned up a little downstairs, and did some laundry, and then made a healthy lunch.

Okay, we played Wii in our pajamas and then had a toilet-paper race. If you've never had one, here's how you do it: each of you holds a roll of toilet paper over the commode, and lets a trail of paper down into the water. Then you flush the toilet. Whoever's roll dispenses the most paper into the toilet, wins.

We played for best out of three but had to call the race on account of pluggage.

After that we figured we needed to get some exercise, so we went bicycle riding. The best place to do this is up at the children's school, so we went up there and had great fun riding around the vastly forested lawns that make up their school.

At one point the boy had to pee, but since the school was closed we had to pee the way God intended: behind a tree.

So I decided to try as well, you know, as a father-son bonding thing. I joined him behind the tree as he's just finishing up.

"You have to go too, dad?"

"Yup," I said as I unzipped. "Gotta wrestle a champ."

He turns and walks around on the other side, and I hear him greet somebody.

"Hi!" He says.

"Why hello!" says a voice I vaguely recognize. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm peeing," he says.

"Oh," the other person says.

"But daddy's not peeing," he says. "He took his pants off so he could wrestle with a champion. I'm just waiting here as a lookout until he's done, but it usually takes him a long time."

I quickly finish up and come around the tree, hoping to explain that I'm not some horrible pervert, and you know who he's with? Yes, his teacher, who has evidently come to "catch up on some paperwork." Or at least that's what she mumbled as she hurried away.

I can't wait for the parent-teacher conferences, assuming I'm allowed within 250 yards of the school by that time.

As we relaxed back in our warm, toasty house, talking about discretion, I got a call from Wifey.

She was not pleased.

"I spent two hours on the runway in Chicago," she said. "Do you realize I've almost spent more time sitting in planes on the runway than in the air during this trip?"

"That's a fascinating fact," I replied. "Did you know that Andrew Jackson once fired almost his entire cabinet because their wives wouldn't accept his friend's wife socially? And then, during the nullification crisis-"

"I'm going to nullify you!" she said. "You planned this debacle! It's supposed to snow here tomorrow!"

Wifey hates snow. In fact, like most Southerners, Wifey hates any weather where you don't sweat profusely sitting still in the shade. I like it a bit cold, so I'm sorry to miss the snow.

"The car you rented me is a piece of shit," she said. "I just found out I can't ship all the stuff I wanted to, and do you know what else?"

"No, what?" I said.

"What's in your pocket?"

"What are you, some kind of reverse Bilbo Baggins?"

I could hear her teeth grind on the other end. "What's. In. Your. Pocket?"

"You sound more like Gollum," I joked.


So I reached in my pocket and pulled out my keys. "My keys."

"Your keys to what?"

"Hmm, let's see," I said. "Key to the house, key to the safe-deposit box, key to the PO box, key to the storage locker, key to the garage, key to my desk at work, and the key that I don't know what it goes to."

"Do you know what you never gave me?"

Thinking back to college, I finally realized what she was so mad about. "Chlamydia? Listen, we've been over this and over this. It was a false positive. It happens sometimes. I did not give you a VD! You never had one single symptom! That girl was just my lab partner, nothing more!"


There was a brief delay for a few moments with only feral snarling on the other side of the line and, I swear, the sound of someone foaming at the mouth in rage. I think she must have been attacked by a rabid animal.

"Well that's no big deal," I said. "Just go buy another lock and then ask the nice man at the storage locker to cut our lock off for you."

"You do know that I'm going to make you pay for this trip, right?"

"What? Now listen here, missy, you wanted this. It was on your list! If anybody should get paid, it's me!"

Now sometimes, as a spouse, you have to know when to truncate your sentences. If I'd stopped there, I might have more than five days to live. As it turns out, though, I went on, and here is what I said:

"I think when you get back you should drop to your knees and give me twenty, if you know what I mean, because I'm such an awesome husband that I'm taking care of your horrid spawn back here in terror mansion while you're laughing and flirting your way across the friendly skies!"

Just then the connection went dead. Hopefully she didn't hear that last part, or if she did, I can blame it on a crossed wire or something.

But if she did hear it, I'm right royally screwed.

The worst part was that the children got pissy with me for calling them horrid spawn. So as revenge I made them do their homework. For two blessed hours one worked on handwriting and reading while the other did math, and I meanwhile watched World's Deadliest Catch on TV.

And you know what? Those guys have a pretty good job. I'm thinking of joining them, oh, maybe next Tuesday when they go back out.

At the very least I'm wearing a cup to the airport next Monday.

Six down, five to go.

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