My wife often says our very well stocked dining room liquor cabinet makes us look like alcoholics. I’m always quick to respond, ‘it indicates the exact opposite.’ If we had a drinking problem all those various bottles would be mostly empty instead of full. We just look prepared. Very prepared. I mean, having booze at the ready does not mean we have a problem. This might spoil my reputation, but months sometimes pass without us touching any… really… and I’m not just saying that because my Mom, doctor and boss might read this.
We actually have a half-full bottle that’s been untouched since our wedding 17 years ago. It’s akin to the Tupperware full of wedding cake remnants hidden in the back of our fridge. I don’t think either is fit for consumption but at this point they are both too sentimental to toss. Besides, since I’m the only one that knows which bottle contains the decomposing antique spirits, it serves as a deterrent to stop guests from sneaking shots in fear of the same permanent unpleasant side effects of imbibing from a Dominican Republic all-inclusive mini bar (too soon?). Actually, on the bar’s top shelf are some unopened bottles of rum we got as a gift from the Dominican resort we stayed at earlier this year… maybe I’ll save those for our next Kevorkian party.
This past Sunday my wife and I sat down in our dining room to eat brunch. Though many of our meals are consumed in restaurants or on tray tables plopped in front of the TV, when we cook something special, our tacit routine is to slowly enjoy the meal and each other’s company, at our real table. Sitting by the big sunny window eating my wife’s family recipe egg cheese souffle, I noticed an embarrassingly thick coat of dust on the glasses and bottles carefully lined up on the bar shelves. I guess it’s another comforting sign we are not alcoholics but also an embarrassing indicator that our house cleaning regiment might be lacking.
I’m fairly practiced at ignoring the obvious; I can put off some hidden spring cleaning till summer or even fall, but in the bright sunlight this procrastinated task suddenly was slapping my obsessive compulsive butt. Its hard to unsee a white wine glass with a coat of dust thick enough to trace ‘wash me’ with your finger like you’d do on a dirty Michigan beater after the fifth slushy winter snowstorm. Okay, it was not that bad; besides I always rinse off a glass before I use it, but instead of enjoying breakfast I was feeling bad about my shamefully neglected cleaning duties.
Later, when my wife left to get some work done at her office, I cranked up the ballgame on the radio and set out to spiff up the bar. I emptied the shelves and scrubbed them. Then I wiped down all the bottles without drinking anything from them, since I assumed that might dramatically alter the quality and ultimate completion of the job. Aside from the wedding booze, I tossed anything too scary old to consume. Finally I set out to hand-wash all the glasses.
Standing at the kitchen sink sudsing, soaking, rinsing and drying in a trance-like assembly line routine, I noticed it was getting dark out. Very dark. Then it hit me it was only 4:00. The morning’s bright sunlight that caused this whole mess was becoming obscured by some late afternoon ominous thick black storm clouds. It made me feel better about being in the house instead of poolside.
One task always seems to lead to another. I initially got out the vacuum to touch up the floor around the bar, but five rooms later when I finally shut our fancy-shmancy self-indulgent Dyson Magic Suck-O-Matic thing off for good, I noticed how bad the howling winds and rain had gotten. I glanced at my phone to discover my wife had called, texted and messaged about a dozen times. Oh crap.
Tornado warning sirens were going off by her office and when she could not get a hold of me, she started envisioning the cats and I on a one-way spinning house trip to Oz. I quickly called back and profusely apologized. I wanted to say ‘the only Twisters in the house were the contortionist board game in the closet and the Chubby Checker albums on my shelf’ but thought it might not be the wisest time to do so. Instead I promised to batten down the hatches but the worst of the storm had already passed.
As soon as we talked she was over it, but I kept making a big deal about missing the calls. I had a good reason. I try really hard not to dump on her and bitch about things that are really ‘Me’ issues. You know the crap I’m talking about. Just because I like something a certain way does not mean that the universe should change its course to appease my whims. Babies usually grow out of the world revolves around them stage and at some point, maybe I will completely too. I’m trying.
Being married to my wife has made me a significantly better human and although it is really easy to be married to her, we work hard on the relationship. Long ago we decided if some issue is important to the other, rather then letting it fester and grow, we talk about it. We respect each other enough to proactively amend a behavior to prevent the other growing frustrated or resentful.
Just a couple of weeks ago I finally let off a little steam about how hard it was to get a hold of her. She knew I was dealing with a time sensitive issue but no matter how many times I called, she did not pick up the damn phone. It turns out that time it was not her fault. She was in a meeting with her boss. But since it has happened so many times in the past when there was no good explanation, I got more frustrated than I should. It’s that exact cumulative effect we are always trying to avoid, so later that day I played the rarely dealt ‘can we please try to work on that’ card. She agreed that sometimes she purposely tunes the phone out and promised to pay a bit more attention when she knows something is up.
So on Sunday my timing could not have been worse. Just like is usually the case with her, on tornado-day I was not ignoring the phone on purpose but… Since I was already doing a lot of cleaning, I figured I might as well break out the Windex to shine up that glass house I was living in.