The View from Where the Walls Meet
By Jack Bogut, an experienced husband
It was a Friday night at the end of a busy, tough, week. I was happy just to be home, put on my sweats, and hide with my Roomie (by marriage).
A simple dinner, a glass of wine, the evening news, some mindless TV, and fall asleep propped up until she pushed me over and turned out the lights would be perfect. As I walked in the garage door in the basement I happily shouted,
“Hi, Sweetie, I’m home…”
As I dropped my stuff in the office, I heard a voice come down the stairway,
“Hi, Bogie. Everything’s gone wrong today. I know we were out last night, but I’d give anything if you’d take me out to dinner.”
We had just been to our favorite restaurant the night before. This would make two nights in a row, but…
As I approached the top of the stairs she continued before I could get a word in.
“Anywhere. I’ll go anywhere. You can choose. I don’t care. Just take me out and I’ll be happy. Anywhere. Your choice.”
This is good. I was all set to stay home but a chance to go to my favorite place eases the pain. Plus, you should understand Joni is the sweetest creature on the planet and is thoughtful, considerate and generous beyond belief, so I decided to count my blessings and mentioned my restaurant. After a long pause she said,
“Okay. If that’s where you really want to go…”
I stood in the hallway with my mouth open and said after a beat,
“You said you’d go anywhere.”
“And I meant it, but it seems like we were just there…”
“Yeah, two months ago.”
So I mentioned another place and she sighed and said,
“Okay. But I’ll have to change my clothes.”
“Because I’m too casual.”
“Okay, I can wait.”
After another pause she said,
“I wish I had gone to the cleaners.”
Another “Why” from me.
“The dress I want to wear is at the cleaners.”
“Well then, what about Mexican?”
“That’s your favorite.”
“Yes but you said…” And that’s when she uttered,
If there is a word that should strike fear into the heart of any married man, that one is near the top. “Fine” means you have struck a chord of resignation and acceptance but, if played out, expect some heavy sighs and stony silence.
“Fine” ranks near the top of simple responses fraught with meaning. It also trumps “Whatever” and “Your mother would like that...”
“Fine?” I responded. “This sounds like a losing battle to me. Come on. I want you to pick the place and we’ll go right.”
“No. I’m sorry honey. I don’t mean to be cranky. I really mean it. I’ll go anywhere you want, as long as we just go somewhere. Don’t even tell me where and let’s get out of here.”
So, in a futile effort to take advantage of her offer to go anywhere and not lose in my attempt to be both sensitive and fair, I responded with a compromise,
“How about Chinese? Would that be OK”
And that’s when she turned away from me and said,
“I’ll just have a salad…”
You can smell paint in this corner.