Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Critical Mom's Guide to the Husband's Business Trip

In the Nantucket Whaling Museum, one exhibit shows a series of letters between a sea captain and his wife, who remains home on the island.  It took six months for a letter to reach its destination.  She writes:  "Where did you put the axe?"  He replies, "Why do you want the axe?"  My husband and I were reminded of this exchange when I wrote to him asking when I was supposed to put out the garbage.  Now, garbage in these parts is complicated.  There's a joke that German couples spend more time sorting their garbage than talking to each other.  It's not just paper and plastic.  There's three kinds of glass garbage (clear, green, and red) and . . . but do you want to know the rest?  I've barely scratched the surface.  Have you got 72 hours?
So I e-mailed my husband, who is in Guadalajara, to ask when I should put out the garbage.  The mañana mood enveloped him or he's working very hard or a little of both, and he wrote back that I should put out the plastic trash on Saturday night.  So I did, but what about the other garbage?  He did write back and tell me and then I forgot all about it until Wednesday night, the night it's supposed to go out, when I was making dinner for the thirteen-year-old and myself.  So I went upstairs and found our teenager, headphones on, discoursing about Minecraft.  I told him the garbage needed to go out to the curb.
With annoyed incredulity, he replied, "I'm talking to my friends!!"
"I don't feel like making dinner tonight," I said, and walked out.  That got him out to the curb with the garbage and then we had a nice dinner while watching Ben-Hur, up to the point where Ben-Hur, forced-marched through the desert, collapses and is given water by Jesus, whom the Roman centurion does not dare to contradict.
"Do you think there was a real person named Jesus?" asks my oldest, and I say yes.  And we get started talking about big, influential personalities, Christ and Buddha and . . . but would I print something out for him?  And my printer can't do colors at the moment.  The next morning his sister has a splinter in her heel and his brother needs plastic wrap taped over his English textbook, and while I am rubbing alcohol on her heel and trying to squeeze out the little brown thing, he is slurping down muesli while lustily singing a rap tune of his own devising:  "You will die, you will die, ohhhh, you will die-hi-hi-yi!!" while I say, "Cut that out!" and she is saying "Ow, Mommy," and looking as though she were going to die, oh, die-yi-yi-hi!  until we give up on the splinter, some of which did come out, and I tape the plastic wrap around the book he needs like a hole in the head, but it is required.  Plus,  his teacher dislikes his American vowels, insisting that he try for "British" English, also telling him that the word "toilet" has two ls.  "And Mommy, she says there's no word, 'scissors,' and she pronounces it 'sehhssahhhs.'"  She just hates it that he speaks better English than she does.  He's tolerant of her foolishness, possibly because she's pretty,  And he's been a great helper the last few days, removing the casserole or the chicken or the meatloaf from the fridge, taking off the plastic wrap, putting the meal in the oven so that it will be ready when the babysittter brings his sister home from ballet class--and the mommy indulges in her own dance class.  The first few times I had to remind him about the plastic wrap, and the last time his brother answered the phone, and I heard him in the background yelling "Tell Mommy I already did it!"
And the food turned out great. 


  1. You slay me! Great writing, especially the die-hi-hying....

  2. Thanks . . . . these are the ones that are easy to write. Whaddaya think of the J.K. Rowling and the English language one . . . another future post, too . . .