Wining & Dining Grandpa Morris

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

My wife says that everything has gotten a lot weirder since we were kids, but I thought that it had always been like this. She says its not the usual kind of weird, but some other worldly kind of weird that seems to be following us around like Sam Spade chasing after the Maltese Falcon. She may be right, I mean its pretty fucking weird, but back then I was so busy trying to stop the flying lizards from singing ‘Waterloo’ on the living room ceiling that I just can’t be sure. According to her though, there was an eerie feeling on the streets that she just couldn’t put into words, and for the past few days it had been making her uneasy and I suppose, a little more Spanish-Moroccan than usual. “What happened this morning?” she asked.

“Well, you yelled at me in your sleep.” I said.

“Really?” she asked. ” What did I say?”

“You told me to stop going through your grandfather’s pockets.”

“Well, that’s weird.” she said.

“I know.” I said. “He’s been dead for over twenty years, and when he was alive he didn’t have a nickel to his name.”

“Ya, but he always had butter rum lifesavers in his pocket. Well, I’m sorry for yelling at you.”

“Its okay,” I said. “It happens so often, I just think of it as foreplay.”

“Do you feel that?” she asked as we walked past the panhandlers in front of The Holiday Inn as they tried to shakedown the tourists for spare change and cigarettes. “Someone’s here.” she continued. “I just got a cold chill. Someone is definitely here with us.”

“Well, if its any of your relatives let them know we’re not buying them lunch.” I said

“Do you have to make a joke out of everything?”

“I think I do.” I said.

“Not everything is funny.” she said.

“It is if you look close enough.”

“I don’t think its funny at all.”

“Ya, but you’ve got your faith in post humanity and your cheery disposition to keep you amused.”

“That’s true.” she said.

I suppose I joke a lot about her involvement with the other side because it freaks me out, but I know that if she feels that someone is with us, then someone is with us. Its her gift. She can feel when the spirits are around. I’m more like a proctologist, I mean I see assholes everywhere.

She was certain that her grandfather was with us as we wandered through the city streets. She was sure that she could smell butter rum lifesavers. She said that if a spirit wants her to know that its there, it will arrive with the aroma most associated with it. She said that he was with us while we ate lunch.

“I don’t know the protocols, but are we supposed to order him something?” I asked.

“I don’t know if he’s hungry.” she said. “But he always did love fish and chips.”

“Do spirits eat?”

“I’m not sure.” she said. “But we should at least offer. It would be the right thing to do,  and besides, we could really freak the server out.” She knew exactly how to get me interested, and right then, man was I interested. We sat on the patio at Fran’s on Front Street, just the two of us, with a table set for three. There was Philly Cheese Steak for my wife, steak and eggs for me, and an order of fish and chips for the spirit who liked to keep butter rum lifesavers in his pocket. Over the course of our meal, she kept removing little bits of fish and the occasional French fry from the plate and it looked as if someone had been eating from it. I’m not sure if the server was freaked out or not, but he was certainly questioning if not his, then our sanity. When we were done eating, she asked for the fish and chips to go, claiming that the invisible diner had eaten enough for now.

As we made our way home,  my wife could feel her grandfather continue to follow us, It was probably the aroma of the fish and chips, I mean by the time we arrived there were about a dozen feral cats behind us as well. She put the container of fish and chips in the fridge, and we went to bed. When I woke in the morning, the container was in the garbage with the remnants of what I can only surmise was some pretty decent fish and chips. I had assumed that sometime during the night either my wife or one of my daughters woke and ate Grandpa Morris’ fish and chips. It was the only logical explanation I could think of, but everyone of them denied touching the container. “I knew he was here.” my wife exclaimed.

“If it wasn’t one of you, it was probably one of the mice.” I said. “The spirit of your grandfather did not eat the fish and chips.”

“I thought we solved the mouse problem?”

“We did.” I said, “But its the only other explanation I can live with. Either that or the alley cats who followed us home broke in, ate the fish, and cleaned up before they left.”

“Now that’s a little far fetched, don’t you think? What is it going to take for you to believe that anything is possible in the spirit world?” I knew it was far fetched, but no more so than a spirit heating up dinner and cleaning up his mess afterward, and I had no idea what would make me believe that her grandfather had been in our kitchen last night. It didn’t really matter though, I mean this kind of shit had been going on for years. “Do you smell that?” she asked. “It’s a stale, sweet aroma that wasn’t there five minutes earlier.”

“I’m not sure,” I said. “but suddenly I feel like eating butterscotch.”

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Another Family Fun Fest

 

by Fielding Goodfellow

“They need to start figuring things out on their own.” my wife said. “I can’t be dealing with all of their shit, all of the time.” It had felt like that for both of us for almost six months and there didn’t seem to be any end in sight. “Why can’t they figure it out on their own?  We did.” she continued. It was really starting to get to her I mean, she had been dealing the brunt of it. The only calls that came my way were the pleas for money, or the two in the morning medical emergencies. My wife dealt with the rest and it was driving her precariously close to the point of no return. I had only seen her there once before, and the carnage was indescribable.  The story is legendary, recounted year after year in suburban family rooms and around campfires every summer.

As the plans for the rapidly approaching holiday family fiesta got under way, I couldn’t figure out why she bothered, I mean if history had taught us anything it was that nothing good had ever come out of having all five of our kids together at the same time. There was always an inordinate amount of crap to deal with, and we were always the ones left to clean it up when they all went home. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked.

“Not really” she said, “but they’re still our kids. We’ll just do what we have to do and have a nice evening.” I thought that she was being a bit too optimistic, but that was just the way she was.

The kids arrived with the reckless abandon usually reserved for frat parties or English football games, chanting out their resentment of the traffic snarls and parking issues they faced on their journey downtown, each one sharing their indignation with the others. “Hang up your coats.” my wife said as they began tossing them haphazardly across the furniture.

One of my daughter’s arrived with her new boyfriend,  a nice enough guy I suppose, but he seemed very out of place as she dragged him around and introduced him to the family. I was informed that they were living together, and to be honest, I was a little surprised. “What happened to the little guy?” I asked my wife.

“That ended almost a year ago.” she said. “Where have you been?” More often than not I felt like I needed a scorecard to keep track of all of the comings and goings within my family, I mean I’m generally out of the loop. My wife has told me that its my own doing. She thinks that I should take more of an interest in my kids’ lives but to be honest, I’m just too busy surfing the waves of my own discontentment with humanity to pay attention to their piddly ass, little lives.

Somewhere between the soup and the brisket all hell broke loose. “I quit my job.” one of my sons said. There was a moment of silence as my wife looked at me. Her eyes were dark and she had stopped blinking. “The chef is a prick and I’m tired of him always giving me shit.”

“What are you going to do?” one of the kids asked.

“I don’t know.” My son said. “It’ll work itself out.”

“When are you going to grow up?” my wife asked. “You have bills to pay.”

“Its not a big deal.” my son said. “Worst case scenario, I’ll just move home until I sort it all out.” I swear I saw steam coming out of my wife’s ears, and I put my hand on her thigh, gently squeezing it to let her know that I was there to support her. It turned out to be just a cake burning in the oven, but the boy had certainly pissed his mother right off.

“Just so you understand” she said, “if you really need to move home, you’d better figure out how you’re going to pay for it. If you have no money, you’re going to have to pay your way by working around here. There is no free ride any longer. Not for any of you.” A hush fell over the room that seemed to last forever. No one seemed to know what to say or do next. I wanted someone to pass the eggplant, but it just didn’t seem like the right time.

“I suppose you feel the same way?” my son asked me.

“Not at all.” I said. “I think your mother and I should just move away and leave you kids to sort out your own damn lives.”

“Well that’s a little irresponsible.” one of my daughters said. “You’re our parents. If you weren’t prepared to be a parent, you shouldn’t have had kids.”  I could feel the muscles in my wife’s thigh tighten and I realized that the point of no return had been crossed. I just hoped that it would be quick and merciful.

“I’m okay.” My wife said to me as she squeezed my hand that was still on her thigh. “I’m okay.” She leaned back in her chair, and took an incredibly deep breath. “You are, without a doubt, the most self-centered and ungrateful people I have ever known. We have spent our lives teaching you, taking care of you, protecting you and fighting for you even if we didn’t like the choices you made. If you don’t like how we parent, feel free to make the choice to get out of my house. All of you need to grow up and learn how to take care of yourselves and maybe spend some time in your incredibly busy unemployed days to make sure that we’re okay. I don’t remember the last time any of you has ever bothered to find out if we need anything. And now, you can sit here and finish eating or take whatever you want with you, but your father and I are going to leave. We’re going to our room now as the old man has had his hand on my thigh for the last fifteen minutes, and I think its excited the hell out him.” We stood up and headed into the bedroom, leaving the murmuring of the kids and their partners behind.

“Well that was brilliant.” I said.

“Do you think I was a too rough on them?” she asked.

“Not at all” I said, “but then I like it rough, and they’ll get over it. What about you?”

“I’m already over it.”

“So, what now?” I asked.

“Well I notice you’ve got your hand on my thigh again.” she said. “I’ve never lied to the kids, so I suppose we could get a little rough, if you’re interested.”

I Know A Little

 

by Fielding Goodfellow

I don’t know how she didn’t wind up with whiplash, I mean she turned her head so fast that I was sure it was going to sail across the room into the fish tank, settling at the bottom where it would forever stare at me with suspicion. “Did you do something you weren’t supposed to?” she asked. Hell, I had been doing things I wasn’t supposed to, sometimes two or three times every day of my life, I mean, that’s just the way I am. My mother used to worry that she’d get a call some dark and stormy night that I was laying in a ditch somewhere in rural Dufferin Country, and the old man, well he was certain that I’d wind up in prison. To everyone’s surprise, I managed to evaded both. I tried to think of what I had done that day, but nothing came to mind.  My wife however had her voodoo thing going on. She got these waves of energy and she knew.  She said that she could always sense when something was amiss, and to tell the truth, she usually could.

It had been going on for decades really, although it took me nearly twenty years of marriage to figure it out. It was never a big deal, I mean it was always some trivial thing, like an unpaid parking ticket or a bill for driving on toll highways.  It was always about money. Its not that I ever tried to hide anything from her, I mean it all seemed so meaningless in the general scheme of things that I just simply forgot to mention it. But we played this game often, round after round of some Spanish-Moroccan version of ‘I know what you did’, that always seemed to leave me feeling like Mr. K. in The Trial. “More than likely.” I said, recognizing that really was the was the only move. In all likelihood I had. It didn’t really matter what it was anymore I mean, once she was sure that I was involved, a confession was the only way to end the entire proceeding and possibly save a life.  Pleading innocence was suicide, but that innocuous confession would save me from the customary two or three days of her not speaking, followed by a review of the incident that would raise its ugly head semi regularly for the rest of my life.

“I just wish you’d tell me.” she said. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”.  She was right, but it could very well have been too much to ask, I mean we just didn’t see it the same way. I know it was important to her, but it meant nothing to me, I mean there was a truckload of  stuff that was important to me that she didn’t give a shit about. That’s just how it was. And yet when I raised a concern, we never seemed to resolve it, I mean there was no confession or even a concession on her part.

“You know” I said, “you win every argument.”

“That’s not true.” she said. “Remember when I moved the furniture around you said you wanted it moved back.”

“It was never moved back.”

“Well, as I recall you got very distracted and we never really got to finish the discussion.”

“Right.” I said. “You took your shirt off and showed me your tits. What did you think was gonna happen?” And there it was. I had always thought that I was a relatively bright man, I mean I’m not claiming to be a genius or anything, but I get it. I generally understand what’s going on around me. That being said, I had absolutely no idea why I hadn’t realized this before. She played me. She used her body to distract me whenever there was an issue she didn’t want to deal with. It was no wonder that I never got to ask the questions. Anytime she wanted to avoid the confrontation, she simply showed me her tits.

“You manipulate me.” I said. “What if I did that to you?”

“You’re kidding.” she said.

“No. I’m dead serious. What if every time you got upset, I whipped my junk out?”

“You’d stand a fair chance of losing it.”

“What?”

“If I am upset” she said, “I’m upset. That’s it. But every time you see a pair of tits its like your twelve years old and you’re seeing them for the very first time. You have no idea what the hell you were doing once I take my shirt off.”  Well, she was right. Hell, that pissed me off, but she was right, I mean that really is all it takes to distract me. A pair of tits or a thigh, it didn’t really matter. All she had to do was take her clothes off and whatever else was going on vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

“Well that’s gonna change.” I said.

“Okay.” she said. “But you can’t help yourself.”

I knew she was right, I mean she knew me better than I knew myself. I had no idea why I even said it, but if I could have done it, I would have. Not four hours later, after she informed one of my sons that he could move back home if he wanted to and before I had a chance to express my displeasure with the possibility, she said that she was hot and pulled her shirt up over her head. “Come on” she said,  tapping her hand on the mattress, “come to bed.”

Don’t Say A Word

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

My first marriage didn’t fare very well. I didn’t think it was anybody’s fault really, but like candles on a birthday cake, it just sort of burnt out and died. I entered into it with the best of intentions, but in retrospect, I’m pretty sure that its demise rests solely on my shoulders. I don’t know how it happened, but one day I found myself being suffocated by the dull, beige hue of boredom, and suddenly I was rolling around in the hay of much brighter and  greener pastures. Her name was Lori, and she was considerably younger, and profoundly sexually adventurous. While I tried to convince myself that it was love, it was really nothing more than a perverse diversion that rivaled 9 1/2 weeks, and lasted just over a year. After the proverbial shit hit the fan and I confessed my sins and took the verbal beating I suppose she felt I deserved, my ex wife wanted to know how I managed to carry on this sleazy affair right in front of her eyes. I never told her, but it wasn’t difficult, really, I mean there was always a plan. Lori would wake up early, unlock her door and go back to bed. I would arrive at a prescribed time, let myself in and bang her to Brazil and back. She was insatiable, and it was exhausting, but at no time did I ever think of lodging a complaint, although  she did like to talk. Sometimes it was all you could do not to reach over and shove a cannoli in her mouth. She talked a lot. The only time she wasn’t talking was when she was down on her knees. She was all blue jeans and leather jackets, and always seemed to be up for an afternoon of peyote and ‘The Wizard of Oz’, despite being freaked out by the flying monkeys and believing that the cowardly lion was, in fact, her spirit animal.

I met Lori at some seedy dive in Whitby where she worked as a stripper. I saw her performing there one  Saturday afternoon and as she removed what little clothing she had on amid the hoots and hollers of six or seven drunken wankers with hands entrenched down the front of their pants, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She was insanely beautiful. We talked for hours well, she talked for hours while I sat there thinking about the things I wanted to do to her body. The voice in my head that kept reminding me that I was married was becoming annoying, but it was quickly silenced when Lori leaned over and kissed me. I kissed her back, all the while remembering what she looked like naked.

Surprisingly, I felt no guilt. I thought I would, I mean even though it was just a kiss I really thought that I should have felt something. When I got home, life went on just as it did before. There were the usual events with family and friends, although I began making up excuses to avoid them in order to spend time with Lori. It was usually a double shift or some other crisis at work that I had to attend to, but any excuse would have done just as well. A simple phone call home from work allowed me hours and hours of some of the most incredible sex I had ever had. There was a time during all of this madness that I wished that I had that with my wife, but I just don’t think that it was in her. Or maybe I just didn’t feel that way about her, I mean I had pretty much lost all interest in having sex with her. I don’t know. It was like that through most of the affair though well, at least until I got caught.

About three or four months or so into the dalliance it occurred to me that I was being brutally unfair. I felt that I needed to let my wife know. I felt like I owed her the truth. The trouble was I had no idea how to tell her and there was no one I could turn to for advice. I had been living a secret life and lying about so much for so long, that I felt as if I need a program to figure out which players were on which team. And, I suppose that with all of the deceit, I couldn’t really be sure what the truth was anymore.

By this time Lori and I had become very close. We were buying each other gifts, and she had taken to writing me notes that described in sordid detail what she wanted me to do to her. We were spending all of our free time together, taking road trips out of town, checking into hotels and living as if we were a couple. It was all becoming too much to deal with and something had to give. I was not prepared to stop seeing Lori, so the only viable option then was to end the marriage. I convinced myself that it was the honorable thing to do. One Saturday evening when my wife returned home from work, she confronted me with some notes from Lori she had found in my briefcase. She was irate, and set out on a journey of name calling, threats and finally the news that I needed to pack up my shit and be out within the hour. I thought that I would have felt the relief that I had been so certain would come once the truth was told, but it wasn’t there. At no time did I ever imagine that I could have hurt her so much, but then at no time did I ever think about anyone other than myself. I moved in with a friend, and shortly after secured an apartment close to work, and Lori.

My divorce was quick and while not painless, I mean she got everything except the tv and stereo which were mine to begin with, at least it was over.  Everything seemed to be working out. Lori was always coming over and the sexcapades were as excitingly prolific as ever. For the first time in a long time I felt free and unencumbered, and perhaps even a little contented. A few months later, Lori informed me that she didn’t think we should see each other anymore. While she was attracted to me and cared for me, the fact that I was married, forbidden fruit so to speak, had made it all so damn exciting for her. She enjoyed the rush of being the other woman, the mistress, and now that she had been relegated to the position of girlfriend, the whole thing just seemed monotonous and tame. We parted ways and with cursory let’s still be friends crap. I didn’t see her again for almost 20 years, when she showed up at a meeting I was attending. We only spoke for a few minutes, the standard how are you and the like, and that was the end of that.

My ex wife moved to California at some point, married and seemed to enjoy her new life. I suppose that there was just too much water still rising up over the bridge for us to even be able to talk, which is okay, I mean, I don’t really have much to say to her anymore. I screwed up. I cheated on my wife with Lori, who couldn’t see me anymore because we divorced due to my infidelity with her. It was sad really, I mean I never set out to hurt anyone, but that’s just the way these things always seem to work out. I stayed on my own for a while, trying to sort through all of the drama and I realized that Its all really cosmically karmic. Eliot was right when he wrote ‘This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper’.

What About The Kids?

 

“What about the kids?”, my wife asked.

“What kids?”, I replied.

“Your kids.”, she told me. “Our kids. Remember them?”

“Uh huh.”, I answered. “What about them?”

“I’m not sure we can go away and leave them here alone?”

“Well, there’s no way I’m taking them with.”, I informed her.

“What if they burn the house down?”, she asked. And there it was, her obsessive fear of the house burning down. It was almost impossible to overcome. It was her belief that a fire would start in the kitchen as a result of the misuse of the kitchen appliances. Therefore, it stood to reason that if we were home, or if at least one of us was at home, the house would be saved from destruction. She had established very strict rules regarding the use of the kitchen appliances, which she routinely enforced by patrolling the kitchen like a a game warden, keeping a watchful eye for perpetrators and those she suspected were about to violate her rules.

She regularly ventures into the kitchen just to check what temperature the oven is set on, and if it is higher than three hundred and fifty degrees, she turns it down. It means nothing to her that the directions clearly stated to cook at four hundred and twenty five. It is not permitted. The choices are to cook it thirty to forty minutes longer, or eat it under cooked. And every fifteen minutes, like clockwork, she makes the obligatory trip back to the kitchen, opens the oven door and checks on the status of the food inside, lest it be burning, and in the process aggravates and agitates anyone who is cooking at the time.

The broiler is completely off limits. It has been deemed too dangerous for us to use as she fears the five hundred degree temperature it cooks at the most. Stove top cooking is only permissible if the burner is set at no more than a number six. Frying is permitted depending on her level of paranoia, and had been very close to being outlawed altogether. There was an incident. Nothing significant, but for my wife it was confirmation of the impending doom that can result from unauthorized cooking.

“Is somebody cooking something?”, she asked late one evening.

“I don’t know.”, I answered.

“Well”, she continued, “I smell something burning.”

“You always smell something’s burning.” It was uncanny really. She could smell something burning before it actually started burning. It was one of her many gifts, a sort of ‘something’s burning’ savant. “Nothing’s burning.”, I told her. “No one’s home except the two of us.”

“I have to go check.”, she stated as she got up out of bed.

“Well?”, I asked as she returned from her trip to the kitchen.

“You have to check that you turn the burner off!”, she exclaimed. “You dropped something in the bottom and left it on. At number eight! Its never to go above six. We’ve been over this. Five would be better, but I’m trying to be reasonable. The entire kitchen is filled with smoke. Next time you might just burn the whole place down.”

“I hope not.”, I replied. “I don’t think I’ll live long enough to hear all of the lectures.”

“This is why we can’t go away.”, she continued. “None of you pay attention to what you’re doing. The kids are too lazy to check and you, well, you just can’t remember what you’re doing anymore.”

“Well then”, I suggested. “We’ll just have to order in.” I went into the kitchen to check the extensive smoke damaged created by a crumb sitting under a hot burner. It was not filled with smoke. I was hard pressed to find any smoke at all. There was however, to my wife’s credit, the faint odor of something having been burnt, and in the bottom of the burner, there was, oh hell no, a solitary penne noodle. It was burnt. It was badly burnt. I gave it last rites, the best funeral I could, with full military honors and a burial at sea.

We can still fry, despite her misgivings, however she did implement a buddy system. There must be two people in the kitchen at all times, with one of them assigned to ensuring the temperature settings are within limits, and that everything is turned off when completed.

“I think she needs help.”, one of my daughters disclosed as she stood there as my cooking buddy while I made chicken parmigiana.

“She’ll be alright.”, I told her. “She just worries about safety.”

“She’s out of her mind.”, she explained. “Its an electric oven. There’s no flame or fire. Does she think that the food is going to spontaneously combust?” It was hard to argue with that, and I agreed to speak with my wife.

“I need to talk to you about something.”, I said as I entered the bedroom.

“Are you done in the kitchen?”, she asked anxiously.

“It will take thirty minutes to cook, and the oven is set at three hundred.”, I said. “Its under control. Are you alright with that?”

“For the time being.”, she replied.

“Good. I think you need to relax the cooking rules a little.”, I advised. “Its making everyone a nervous wreck.”

“I can’t help it.”, she said.

“I know.”, I reminded her. “But we really are pretty careful. I just don’t think we can ever meet the expectations you’v e set for us. We’re going to make mistakes, but in all of the years we’ve been cooking, there has never been a fire.”

“That’s because I’m always running into the kitchen and checking on everything.”, she informed me.

“No.”, I replied. “Its because we really do know what we’re doing. I just think you can let up a little.”

“How?”, she asked.

“Well, for one, stop running into the kitchen to check on everything all of the time. You can go in the kitchen to make a tea or something and check on stuff, you know, make it less obvious. And stop telling the kids what to do and how to do it. They’re not little kids. They’re all grown up.”

“So, the kids are complaining?”, she inquired.

“Ya, they are.”, I answered.

“And what about you?”, she questioned.

“Well you can check on me as often as you need to, and you can give me shit whenever you feel like it. Just like its been since the day we got married. Can you live with that?”

“I suppose.”, she said. “But the broiler is still off limits.”

“Agreed.”, I replied.

“Don’t you think you should go and check the chicken you left in the oven?”, she asked.

“On my way.”, I told her. She was surprisingly calm, and I hoped that she would be okay. Over dinner I brought up the weekend trip again.

“Alright.”, she said. “We’ll go to Niagara On The Lake for the weekend.” I was, to say the least, pleasantly surprised.

“I’m glad.”, I told her. “And I think it will be good for you.”

“Well”, she continued, “It took some work and some planning but, my mother will come and stay with the kids until we get back.”

“Okay.”, I replied. “That’s sounds like a plan.”

“Ya, and they will be ordering in all weekend.”, she advised me.

“Really?”, I inquired.

“Ya.”, she went on to explain. “We will be removing the circuit for the oven when we leave. They won’t be able to cook with it all weekend.”

“Well its nice to see that you have overcome your fear of the house burning down.”, I told her as sarcastically as I could.

“Ya”, she stated, “It wasn’t really as difficult as I thought it would be.”

 

The Son Of The Mouse In My House

 

There’s no way you’re ever going to believe it. Hell, I have a hard time believing I myself. But ts true. Over a year since I last heard about it, my wife spotted another mouse in the house. Not just in the house, but actually in our bedroom. She saw it run in and dash behind a dresser.

“That’s it.”, She said. “We’re moving.”

“We’re not moving.”, I told her.

“Well I’m not sleeping in here.*, She continued. “Not with that thing in here.”

“Just relax.”, I reassured her, “We’ll catch it.” As I began to move the furniture in our room away from the walls, my wife put on her calf high rain boots and stepped up on the bed. “Seriously?”, I asked. “I could use some help.”

“I’m not moving until its out of here.”, she informed me. I pulled out the dresser, and nothing. I moved the wall unit, the end tables, and the stationary bike which had sat not only stationary but solitary for the past eighteen months. “There it goes.”, she shouted, pointing to a far corner of the room. Its in my closet.Get my shoes off the floor. I don’t want it in my shoes.”

“Relax.”, I pleaded as I slowly opened the closet door, adding to the suspense. I began moving her shoes off of the floor as she announced the movements of the rodent.

“It went to the left side of the closet.”, she reported, so I focused my search on the identified area. “It went back to the right side.”, she continued. The mouse shot out of the closet like a rocket amid her screams and squeals. “It went behind the book case.”, she told me frantically.

“You know”, I said as I headed back to the bookcase, “I wouldn’t mind hearing that kind of stuff when we’re having sex.”

“If you don’t find that mouse”, she advised me, “we probably won’t be having sex again. And besides, I make a lot of noise.”

“Yes you do.”, I agreed. “But ‘hang on the remote is digging into my ass’ is not the kind of noise I’m talking about.”

“There it goes.”, she shouted pointing at the path of the mouse along the southern wall of our bedroom. “It’s behind the bed.”

One of my daughters entered our room, and seeing my wife standing on the bed in her red and black flannel pajama pants tucked into a pair of knee high rubber rain boots that were at least a size too big, and a khaki colored rain slicker with the hood up, holding a tennis racket was too much for her to bear. She burst into uproarious laughter. “What the hell are you dressed for?”, she asked my wife.

“Safety.”, my wife replied. “There’s a mouse roaming around somewhere in here.”

“Are you trying to catch it or kill it with laughter?”, my daughter asked.

“You’re going to have to get off of the bed if you want me to move it.”, I said.

“Are you crazy?”, my wife remarked. “I’m not getting off the bed until the mouse is gone.”

“I don’t know what you’re worrying about.”, I said. “You’re in your hazmat suit. You have to get off the bed.” I had never seen her move so quickly, jumping directly from the bed to the floor with one bounce, sticking the landing close to the door in one precise move which, had I been judging would have scored her a 9 out of 10, and then running out of the room, closing the door behind her. After a careful search, there was no mouse under the bed. There was no mouse anywhere. I opened the bedroom door and informed my wife that the mouse had left the scene of the crime.

“Are you sure?”, she asked.

“Well its not in here.”, I answered. “I don’t know what else I can do.” My wife climbed back on the bed, still dressed in her mousing attire. “I have to go to sleep.”, I added.

She leaned forward and began scouring the room with her eyes darting back and forth, looking for any movement, any trace of a mouse still lingering in the room. “I don’t think I can sleep.”, she informed me. “Not in here.”

I sat down on the edge of the bed. “What do you want me to do?”, I asked her.

“Just stay here and watch for it.”, she said. “Maybe if its still in here, it will leave while I’m asleep.”

“You want me to sit up all night and  be on the lookout for a  mouse that may or may not be in here?”, I inquired.

“Yes.”, she said. “You’re the man.”

“What does that have to do with anything.”, I asked.

“It just does.”, she reminded me, “Now, I’m going to try to get some sleep.”

“Dressed like that?”, I asked.

“Well I’m not taking it off.”, she stated. “What if it jumps up on the bed?”

And so, I spent that night on the edge of the bed, dozing off for a bit every now and again, but never for very long. The night seemed to go on forever, and I kept myself awake with nicotine, caffeine and Benzedrine. I did not see the mouse in our room again that night. In the morning my wife contacted a pest control company, who attended our home later in the day and placed bait traps in a few select places. I hiked over to the hardware store and picked up more sticky traps, snap traps and some kind of electronic gadget that claimed to emit a sound that would keep the mice at bay.

I have no idea what happened to the mouse that had invaded our bedroom that night, but I assume it eventually left, sitting around a camp fire with its colony sharing a hunk of usurped cheese,  laughing hysterically at the story of a strange woman who spent the night dressed as if she were planning to survive nuclear fallout.  I check the traps several times a day, and so far, I have caught nothing. I can’t be sure if I even saw the mouse in our room that night. Maybe it was never there. Maybe my wife had merely imagined that she had seen a mouse. Either way, I thought it best to cancel the surprise anniversary trip to Disney World. I just don’t think that she would have been able to handle the giant mouse that roams the Magic Kingdom at will, without all of her mousing gear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeding The Baby

 

 

My wife was always an exceptional mother. I would watch in amazement as she exercised her maternal prowess. With 5 kids, there was always changings, and feedings, and trips to doctors, and a host of car pool events for the older ones.I helped as much as she would allow, relegated me to the chores and tasks she felt didn’t require a mother’s touch. I changed diapers, and gave kids bottles when they were done nursing. The responsibility for the nursing of the children was entirely hers. Except for that one evening in 1996.

The baby was crying, my wife was exhausted, and it was 2 in the morning. “I’ll go get her and bring her in here.”, I said.

I picked the baby up from her crib, and cradling her in my arms began the walk back to my wife. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain, and looked down to see the baby firmly attached to my nipple. Now I don’t know what the protocols are in a situation like this, but I began tugging, and pulling, and tugging some more, but she just wouldn’t let go. I screamed. Really, I screamed. My wife came running to find me sitting on the floor, trying to pry this monster off my nipple. “You have to break the seal.”, she said, laughingly.

“Get this thing off of me.”, I shouted, as the baby began sucking harder and harder. My wife inserted one of her fingers into the side of the baby’s mouth and I don’t know what happened, but the baby fell off. I was free. I passed the baby to my wife, and went into the bathroom to examine the damage. It was sore, and red, and I think I saw my life flash before me. “I think its swollen.”, I told my wife. “Do you think I should see the doctor?”

“You’ll be fine.”, she said.

“What the hell is wrong with that kid?”, I asked, still massaging my swollen, painful nipple.

“There’s nothing wrong with her.”, I was informed. “She was just hungry.”

It took a few days, but things got back to normal, as the swelling went down, and the pain subsided. Following that fateful night, I have never picked up a baby without wearing a shirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had always gone out of my wife to help my wife take care of the kids when they were younger. I clothed them, fed them, changed them, took them for walks, took them to the park, took them everywhere really, and just always tried to be involved. So when my youngest was a baby, and in her crib crying, I decided that I would go get her and bring her down to my wife. I lifted her out of her crib, and cuddled her against my chest, and began the treacherous walk down two flights of stairs to where my wife was waiting.

 

 

sima latching o to y nipple…

The Handyman

 

“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.”

 

 

 

 

Power & Control

 

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.

 

 

 

The Chocoholic

 

In all of the years I have known my wife, for better or worse, she has had an issue with chocolate. She is an addict. At times she pretends that there isn’t a problem, but deep down she knows. She buys insane amounts of the stuff, stashing it for later, in the event that the planet should run out. She craves it, becomes obsessed with it, and holds on to it as if her life depended on it.

“You won’t believe what I got us.”, my wife told me over the phone. “I got a huge box of Lindor chocolates. 150 of them on sale for $50.”

“What are we going to do with 150 chocolates?”, I asked.

“Eat them.”, she said. “we’ll have chocolates for a year.”

“You know I don’t really eat chocolate, right?”, I reminder her.

“Okay.”, she said. “So, I’ll have chocolates for a year.”

“That should last you 2 years, if its just you eating them.”, I suggested.

“There my chocolates now.”, she stated. “I’ll eat them when I want.”  She wasn’t kidding. The year’s worth of chocolates were gone in about a week. She carried some in her purse, had some at work, and the rest she managed to eat while sitting in bed, reading.

“I don’t feel so good.”, she told me after the last morsel had been eaten. “I’m never doing that again.”

“I’m sure you will.”, I said. Not surprisingly, I was right. I just couldn’t believe how quickly she was going to do it again.

Less than a week later, while shopping, she noticed her favorite boxes of chocolates on sale, the dark chocolate, sea salt topped, caramel things in a box. They are only available at Christmas time. “Can you get me a box?”, she asked. As I walked towards the chocolate display, I heard a voice call out. “Make it two, please.”

“Why not.”, I replied. I picked up the two boxes and placed them in the shopping cart.

“You know what?”, she asked. “Get me one more.”

“Are you sure?”, I asked. “Remember what happened last time.”

“I know.”, she answered. “But this time I’ll pace myself.”

We got home and unpacked the groceries. Several minutes later, as I entered the bedroom, I found my wife sitting on the bed, an open box of the dark chocolate, sea salt topped, caramel things on her lap.

“You’re kidding.”, I stated. “We haven’t even been home for half an hour.”

“I know.”, she said. “Isn’t it awful.”, as she shoved another one into her mouth. Before the evening was through, she had devoured 26 of the 30 chocolates in the box.

“I think I’m going to be sick.”, she said.

“Me too.”, I replied.

“No, seriously.”, she said. “I think I’m going to be really sick.” And she was. For hours.

“I think you’re going to be okay.”, I told her as she settled into bed.

“I think I should take the other boxes of chocolates back.”, she suggested.

“Okay.”, I agreed.

“Or maybe we should just hang on to them.”, she added. “You know, maybe give them as  gifts or something.”

“Whatever you want.”, I said.

“But you’re going to have to hide them somewhere.”, she stated, “and don’t tell me where they are. No matter what.”

“Alright.”, I told her.

“You know what?”, she continued. “Just hide them under the tv stand.”

“Right.”, I said.