I had sneaked into the bedroom. After being awake for 3 hours, while my wife slept, I went to retrieve a cigarette. I moved as quietly as humanly possible, maneuvering around a chair, a lamp, and assorted collectibles. Just as I reached the pack that sat atop the dresser, she spoke. “Did you have coffee already?”
“Ya.”, I replied. “I’ve been up since 2 o’clock.”
“Did you make me any?”, she asked.
“No.”, I told her. “You were asleep.”
“I’m awake now.”, she stated.
“Would you like me to make you coffee?”, I asked.
“No.”, she said. “Its okay. I’m awake now. I can do it myself.”
“Then why are we having this conversation?, I replied.
“I was just asking.”, she stated.
“Its quite aggravating.”, I informed her.
“I know.”, she replied. “But its my job.”
“I wish you’d find another line of work.”, I responded.
“No you don’t.”, she said. “You wouldn’t know what to do with yourself without me aggravating you.”
“I suppose you’re right.”, I told her. “All of these years of having a pain in my ass, I suppose I would miss it if it were gone.”
“Oh, don’t start that sweet talking now.”, she stated. “Its far too early, Let me at least have my coffee first.”
I remember the way things used to be. I don’t know what happened to change it all, but it was different. It had been for over 20 years. Somewhere along this long, strange trip, everything shifted. It was like a parallel universe, with things reversed.
“I used to be in charge.”, I told her, although it sounded a lot more like a question than a statement of fact.
“Yes you were.”, she replied.
“Well.”, I continued, “When did all of that change?”
“It never changed.”, she replied.
“Well. it seems to me”, I added, “that I have very little input into things that go on here.”
“That’s because that’s the way you want it.”, she responded.
“That’s not what I want.”, I told her.
“Sit down.”, she said. “We need to talk.”
“Listen carefully.”, she told me. “And please don’t get upset. You were never really in charge.”
“No , I was.”, I said. I remember making every decision.”
“Well”, she continued. “You really didn’t. You felt that you were in charge because I wanted you to feel that you were in charge.”
“What are you talking about?”, I asked,
“Ah, honey”, she said as she moved the hair off of my forehead. “You never stood a chance. None of you do. Everything that has gone on in our lives was because I was in charge. And look where we are today? Beautiful children, and a happy marriage. What more could you have wanted?”
“The children, while beautiful, are out of their fucking minds.”, I replied. “And as for a happy marriage, we’re not happy, you’re happy. There’s a difference.”
“Is there?”, she asked. “Could you be happy if I was unhappy?”
“Well, no.”, I said.
“And why is that?”, she asked.
“Because I love you?”, I guessed.
“Hell no.”, she answered. “We both know its because I wouldn’t let you.”
“You tricked me.”, I said. She stood up and sat beside me, hugging me as she rubbed my shoulders.
“What can I do to make it better for you?”, she asked. “Whatever you want.”
“I’d like sex .”, I said.
“Okay.”, she said. “Anything else?”
“Do you think you could make me that brisket again?”, I queried. “The one with the roasted potatoes and carrots?”
“Of course.”, she replied.
“Great.”, I said. “That would be great.”
“Is there anything else?”, she asked, as she stood up.
“No I think that covers it.”, I told her.
“I’m glad.”, she remarked. “And honey.”, she said as I began to walk away. “I like it when you put your foot down and try to take control.”
“I know.”, I said. “That’s why you fell in love with me. Right?”
“No.”, she answered. “But don’t stop. Its really very cute.”
She was good. She was very good. She had confused and confounded me, again. It was precisely at that moment that I realized that she was right. I was never really in charge, and I never would be. But it didn’t matter anyway. The brisket was good, the sex was even better, and I didn’t really want anything else.