“Do you remember…”, my wife began, and I braced myself. Every time she began with that phrase, it meant we were about to set out on a review of all of the tings I had done wrong, or had forgot to do, in front of all of the kids. She thought it was cute and funny and something my kids’ partners should be made aware of.
“Do you remember the time you tried to put that barbecue together?”, she asked.
“I don’t think so.”, I answered.
“Oh, come on.” she said. “Sure you do. We were living in that big, old farm house. You were out in the back yard with your tool box. I was watching you from the kitchen window. You kept dropping screws, and were crawling round in the grass looking for them. When you were done you had all of these left over parts.”
“They always put extra screws in those things.”, I said.
“That’s exactly what you said then.”, she continued. “And when you put the burgers on the grill, the whole thing tipped over, and the food was on the ground. Remember? We had to throw it all out and order pizza.”
“Ya. Ya.” I said. “I remember. I also remember you thought it was the best pizza you’d ever tasted.
“I remember that.”, one of my sons responded.”
“For that you wake up?”, I asked him.
“It was funny.”, he said. “You were so mad.”
“And what about the time he tried to build a wall unit.”, another son stated.
“Oh ya.”, my wife said. “You put the doors on upside down. The whole thing was backwards.”
“It worked, didn’t it?”, I asked.
“Well, we couldn’t use the drawers or the cupboards.”, one of my daughters stated.
“You don’t need drawers or cupboards on a wall unit.”, I answered.
“Didn’t he try to put a crib together once?”, another daughter asked.
“Oh, that was great.”, my wife answered. “He wound up shoving a screwdriver through his hand. 5 stitches, and nerve damage in a finger.”
“The damn crib was put together, wasn’t it?”, I stated.
“Yes it was.”, my wife answered, as condescending as I had ever heard her.
“Are we done.”, I asked.
“I don’t think so.”, she said. “I’m sure there’s more.”
“And the desk.”, someone shouted.
“Right.”, my wife shrieked. “You built me a desk. Lifted it out of the box, and pulled your back out. But you just kept on trying.”
“You still use that desk, don’t you?”, I pointed out.
“I do.”, she replied, “but I rebuilt it myself, afterwards. well, the kids helped.”
“Didn’t you get hurt a lot when you were a kid?”, one of my daughters decided to join in.
“I don’t remember.”, I replied.
“Oh, sure you do.”, my wife interjected. “Your mother told me all kinds of stuff. When you were 5 or so, you got a hazel nut shell in your eye. Almost lost the eye.”
“Didn’t one of us almost poke his eye out?”, a son asked.
“Yes.”, my wife answered. “You did.”. she said looking at my eldest daughter.”You wanted him to read you a book, when he said no, you hit him in the eye with the book. What did the doctor say?”
“Detached retina.”, I answered.
“Right.”, my wife continued. “For 3 weeks he walked around with a patch on his eye. It was like living with Jack Sparrow. And, you fell off of the roof of your parent’s house at least once, right? Right. And what happened when you went through the screen door?”
“Nothing happened.”, I said. ” I was running down the hall, and pushed the door to open it so I could go outside. I missed the handle, so the door didn’t open, and I ran right through the glass.”
“And the can opener.”, my son shouted.
“Oh, yeah.”, my wife said as she laughed. “What were you trying to open, a can of tuna? Well it doesn’t matter. We had just got one of those openers that are supposed to make it safer to handle the cans. Well, not for him. He was draining the liquid, and he yelled “Oh shit”. When I went to the kitchen, I saw him with a dish towel wrapped around his hand, and blood pouring out. 7 stitches, and nerve damage in the rest of the hand.”
“Holy shit.”, one of my sons said. “You probably shouldn’t do anything.”
“What I should do”, I told him, “Is kick your scrawny ass.”
“Oh, relax.”, my wife said. “You probably just wind up pulling a muscle or something.”
“Are we done?”, I asked as I stood up. “I’m going to smoke now.”
“Almost.”, my wife continued so I sat back down. She came over and sat on my lap, putting her arms around my neck. “And yet”, she said, “he is the best man I know. He has always kept me and the kids safe, and he makes me laugh. He is always there for us, helping us fight our fights, and making the pain and fear go away.” She looked me in the eye and continued. “And just so you know, I don’t need you to put things together, or build me things. You do more for me, for us, than you even realize, and I wouldn’t change a thing. You are the best husband I could have imagined.”
“Well”, I said, “now the truth finally comes out.”
“Just one thing though.”, she said. “If you’re going to cook, please let me know. You never remember to turn the oven off.”
“Oh, I remember.”, I told her. “I just choose not to do it because I know how how happy it makes you to think you need to take care of me.”
“You 2 are so messed up.”, one of my daughters said.
“Ya.”, my wife said. “But we like it that way.”