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Sunday, July 13, 2008

True Love

I was going to get regular coffee last night. It was on my mental list. I knew we only had decaf left, and I hate going to the store at 7:00 a.m. I remembered the milk and the puppy chow, and the shampoo.

I was one step away from the coffee aisle when the husband called. The girls and I were in the toothpaste aisle discussing mouthwash vs. fluoridated rinse when the "hurry-up" call came. The boy was hungry. He needed food. He was whining, said the dad.

We had been taking our sweet time for three hours, picking out flip-flops and trying on shorts and debating whether high-heeled canvas shoes counted as tennis shoes.

Can you take the puppy out, and around the block in those things? If not, find something more practical, I kept saying, and so we kept looking at shoes and shirts and notebooks and plastic storage containers and lip gloss, and all the other wonderful things stores have sitting on shelves, begging to be considered.

We'd left the brother home due to tummy trouble. He'd be quiet, he said, in a sleepy, hazy voice, while lounging on my bed in front of the new t.v, and let dad work upstairs. And he was, for the first two hours, I think.

But the dad couldn't do all his hard math, which he promised he'd do for the big lawyer meeting next Tuesday, when the boy wandered in every few minutes to ask about dinner, and other things.

I could hear it in his voice on the phone, an irritated tone we've come to know so well through the stress and strain of nine months of hard work that's almost done, almost done, just another week, and then it will be done and could you please deal with the kids for a few hours so I can think?

"Feed him," I snapped. "Or better yet, tell him to get his own bowl of cereal!" I mean, really, these people live in a house with a stocked pantry, not in the middle of the woods with only berries and bark.

Why must they call the mother, who's happily shoe shopping with the daughters? Do they not understand how time fades away and I slip into my happy place in front of aisles and aisles of shoes and sandals and 8 kinds of mouthwash? Have I not trained them better?

Of course they were just missing us, really. It wasn't about the food. They both need to be taken care of, in their own ways, along with the puppy, who barks at the dad and snaps at the boy when he gets to excited, which I could hear on the phone.

"How much longer?" he said, in that desperate tone, "and did you remember the milk?"

"Of course I did," I snapped again, as I hustled and bustled out of the store, mumbling in frustration at the slow checker and the dumb drivers in the parking lot, and knowing I was forgetting something important.

So this morning, when I poured his cup of decaf and added the milk, I was ready with a snippy, passive-aggressive comment about how the lack of regular coffee was actually his fault.

I waited by the door, with both cups in hand, for him to come back from the doggie duty down the street. Just a little dig, I thought, to prove that I'm right, as usual, and remind him to appreciate me.

But when he walked through the door, the site of him melted my heart a little. He was wearing a crumpled "Terminator Stout" shirt from 12 years ago, some hand-me-down shorts that are a tad too short but showed off his tall skinny legs, with white tube socks that hit just below the knee. And flip-flops. Yes, flip flops with socks.

He acutally walked out of the house like that? I married an ultra geek, no denying it.

The tiny puppy and the big Weimaraner sat perfectly at his feet, waiting for him to unhook their leashes. They all looked at me with something that resembled affection.

"Coffee?" he smiled hopefully.

"Well, it's only decaf," I said sheepishly, and gave him a little kiss.


Deby said...

Awwwww... that was cute.

Anonymous said...

Boy, am I glad that you recovered your sanity long enough to see the little boy in the man. Plus, walking the dog? Ahhhhh. I'd drink the purple kool-aid just to avoid THAT job!

Michael said...

That was really, really well written.

I don't work at home, but I really don't think it would have been that much trouble to just feed the boy. I feed my guy quite a bit-not well, but it makes the hunger stop.

Nice, well formed anecdote, though.