Friday, September 30, 2011

Break-In or Break-Out?

The day started off innocently enough. We had slept soundly. Everything looked and felt normal. There were no overt signs or sounds of a break-in…

I got up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and dressed for the gym. I grabbed an armload of laundry and headed downstairs to toss it all into the washing machine, where I had casually dumped a couple of towels and cleaning rags the previous morning. The plan was to fill the load today and run the thing at capacity. But then…

I opened the lid, and found it empty.


Where are the things I had left inside? I looked around the laundry room. Nothing on the floor. Nothing on top of the dryer… Then I looked inside the dryer.

Omigosh, omigosh, omigosh—scare me to death—the missing laundry was in the dryer, clean and dry! There was only one conclusion: a burglar had gotten into the house and done this tiny load of laundry!

I struggled to get my breathing under control, and reached for the phone to call 911. Then I realized I should tell my husband, the Center of the Universe (CoTU) first. I wouldn’t want the sirens to be his first awareness of this.

I found him upstairs at his computer, and broke the news as gently as I could. “Honey—I’m sorry, but there’s a problem downstairs. It looks like we’ve had an intruder, and I’m not talking about another squirrel.”

Of course, he jumped up and freaked out. “What? Where—what happened?”

“Calm down,” I said, there doesn’t appear to be any real damage, just a load of laundry done.”

He sank back down in his chair, and attempted to wither me into shame with an icy glare.

No explanation was forthcoming.

“Hello???” I prodded. “You know, some things are givens. The sun will rise in the east, the Mississippi flows south, highway 40 will jam at the 141 overpass, and you do not touch the washing machine. These are not facts because I wish them to be so, they seem to be forces of nature. Well, at least the first two. The others I have come to believe because of so many years of observation and experience. I open the washer and expect to see what I left there the day before. It has always been so. You can’t do something so unexpected and out-of-character and think I’m not going to be stunned. I need an explanation.”

“Ummm… it’s really no big deal… I wanted to clean my new lens cloths, and you were in that all-day workshop, so I stuck them in the washer and did it.  Dried ‘em, too.”

“But,” I struggled to say with aplomb, “it seems that there’s always been a force field in the laundry room that repelled you from the washer and dryer. Remember the time I was away on Father’s Day and left your card and gift inside the dryer, knowing full well you would never run across it accidentally? I had to call you and tell you to get it out and open it. That space has always been sacrosanct—what’s next? You’ll be rinsing dishes and putting them into the dishwasher? Please—where’s my real husband, and who are you really?”

He turned back to his computer with a smug smile. “CoTU, here. Where ya gonna hide my next present?”

I’m not worried. There’s still the vacuum cleaner closet.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Marriage and Al Gore

Al Gore had a good week last week. He was on The Colbert Report Tuesday night, and sparred competently with the amazingly agile and witty Stephen Colbert. My husband, the Center of the Universe (CoTU) and I enjoyed the spectacle immensely. When it ended, I blithely commented that Colbert hadn’t even plugged the new dance studio Gore had opened.

“Dance studio?” the hub inquired.

“Yeah, it’s based on math formulas. It’s called the Al-go-rhythm,” I deadpanned. He threw a throw pillow at me. Maybe that’s how they got the name. You know: throw pillows. Sorry.

Then Wednesday as I was preparing our lunch, listening to Neal Conan’s Talk of the Nation on NPR, and soaking up the pun-ditry and wisdom of the ‘political junkie’ Ken Rudin (his cohort for the Wednesday show) CoTU moseyed into the kitchen. I subtly pointed at the radio so he’d know that I was focused on what was being said, and implying that he might be interested, too. He was.

He also began quietly foraging in the pantry for a snack to tide him over the next ten minutes or so while I created a chef’s salad for me and a turkey wrap with black olives and sun-dried tomatoes for him. Often, when he does this, I point out (helpfully) that a meal is just moments away. He then (helpfully) points out in response that his snacking has never dulled his appetite for a meal. Case closed. This time, I chose to save my breath, since my helpfulness has never deterred his snacking anyway.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gore again espoused the breadth and depth of the scientific community’s belief in climate change and the human component thereof. Although he said it much better than that, and didn’t have to use ‘thereof’.

CoTU popped some dry-roasted peanuts into his mouth and said, “He does a fine job of stating the facts, outlining the situation, and proposing solutions.”

I stopped chopping tomatoes for the salad and gave him a cold, hard stare. “This man has been vice-president of the United States, holds numerous honorary doctorates from respected universities, in 2007 he won an Emmy, a Grammy, the Nobel Peace Prize for heaven’s sake, and pretty much everything but the Heisman trophy—but believe me, I’m sure nothing would mean as much to him as your glowing assessment of his competence.”

“Yeah. I’m sure he would,” CoTU agreed, totally missing my sarcasm. “Is he divorced now?”

“I guess so—I recall hearing that he and Tipper separated about a year ago. Why—are you planning to fix him up with someone?” I asked.



“You want to date him yourself?” I suggested.

He choked on a peanut.

We went back to listening to the interview, enjoying the rich repartee of the co-hosts with their guest. Soon our lunch was ready and we sat down to eat, still listening to the radio. When the program ended, we did our usual post-mortem on it—what we thought about the points made, and the other ideas that had come to mind while we had been listening.

As we cleared the table and put the dishes into the dishwasher (and when I say ‘we’, I mean me), CoTU suggested we head upstairs to double our entrendres. (Insert your favorite euphemism here.)

“Cool,” I said. “As long as you’re not going to be thinking about Al Gore.”

“And as long as you’re not going to blog about this,” he added.


“You know, maybe Al and Tipper would still be together if he had spent less time working on the environment of the planet, and more time working on the home environment,” CoTU said.

“Or maybe Tipper got tired of polishing his trophies,” I remarked.

“So to speak…” he mumbled.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back to Back

Our mattress is done for. We used to love it, and even on the best of vacations, we would talk all the way home of how much we looked forward to sleeping in our own bed.

I have a long history of back problems, dating back to my twenties. (Yes, I can remember back that far, thank you very much.) My brother has the same problem with the same disk, so we blame our parents. That’s fair, isn’t it? My kids blame me for everything they suffer from, so why should the buck stop here? I ain’t no Harry Truman, you know…

Anyhoo, this summer my back issues seemed to escalate, and by the fourth of July had really flared up (pun intended.) I was walking like the 2000-year old man: hunched over and grimacing in pain.

My husband, the Center of the Universe (CoTU) suggested I try sleeping in the guest room. I gracefully declined, unwilling to believe I could blame my troubles on the mattress I had so loved and relied on for so long.

The problems with my back continued.

CoTU again suggested I give the guest room a try. After all, our guests were gone, and though that mattress is significantly older than the one we currently share, he posited that I had nothing to lose. I again declined, this time without a trace of grace, and got down on the floor to resume the physical therapy exercises that usually grant me relief. But like the Cardinals’ bullpen, there was not nearly enough relief to be had.

Within a few days I gave in to his urging, and gave the guest bedroom a try.

That room is now known as Lourdes.

The very first morning I woke up and walked upright for the first time in weeks! I slept better, felt better and moved a whole lot easier. Knowing CoTU as you do, you know how pleased he was to have been proven right.

Except for one thing. Now he can’t lure me back to the bed that causes me so much pain and discomfort.

He tried enticing me back with tales of his ‘invisible friend’. “She’s really special. She’s really hot,” he said.

“She’s really imaginary,” I replied.

Both beds are available for conjugal visits, but I insisted that he boot out his invisible friend before I agreed to go back. No more references to her, her specialness, or her hotness. “She doesn’t take care of you like I do,” I helpfully pointed out. “I haven’t noticed her helping with feeding you, for instance.”

“True,” he agreed. “But she doesn’t have to.”

Ouch! “You’re going to die,” I deadpanned.

“In your arms?” he asked.

“No, I’ll be the one in handcuffs.”

We’re going shopping for a new mattress. Today.