Me and Mr. Fix-It are celebrating the anniversary of our monumental matrimonial moment this week. Yes, we have lived in the state of wedded bliss for, lo, unto these past ten years. Not a long time when compared to, say, The Parental Units who recently marked 68 years of connubial union.
Sixty-eight years is an eternity, but my parents have done their best to make their journey exciting. One has only to make their acquaintance for a few hours to understand why that statement is not only descriptive, but right on target.
Take, for example, the Friday afternoon Bread War. Mother had just returned home from her weekly ritual visit to the beauty shop and grocery store. As she was putting the groceries away, C.H. came home from the drug store. In his trademark smart aleck way, he popped off with some smart aleck remark that had not settled well. Mother returned fire. By the time my sister-in-law walked in the back door, full scale war had erupted. A loaf of Little Miss Sunbeam doubled as a frying pan stand-in as my mother scored a W in her column.
These days, things have slowed down a bit, but the weapons have become decidedly more substantial. It’s a little like American Gladiators with walkers and canes. Depending on the speed and stealth required, the aluminum two-wheelers may be abandoned for the heavyweight four-wheeled Maseratis parked in opposing corners of the living room. Those things are reserved for when things get really serious – stuff like where’s the television remote and whether the program offers closed captioning…
Growing up in such a household has made for a line of spirited personalities contributing to equally lively family environments. Being the youngest of four children, it seems it was my privilege or curse to reap the benefit of being en garde at the drop of a hat. To say that conversation could be lively around the Arnold house was like saying that cats have a climbing gear.
So Mr. Fix-It and me have done our best to live up to that model of lively discussion as we journey through life together. At our ages, if we were to make 68 years of marriage, we would most likely be too old to know about it, so we’re trying to pack 68 years into the years we have. Hence, we have some rather spirited exchanges about everything from “and, Helen, just why did you decide to pull the Yukon into the mud off the driveway and get it stuck” to “I need you to clean the house to my specifications, Darrell, not like the men’s room at Billy Bob’s Tattoo Parlor & Cultural Arts Center.”
Take, for example, a recent evening when we were getting our house ready for a get together we were having the next day. Since we typically enlist our enclosed porch for gatherings at our house, I was amazed when Mr. Fix-It questioned me about cleaning up the porch.
He was incredulous. “I’m going to be busy. I won’t have time to be running up and down the stairs taking care of fires up here.”
He builds amazing, roaring fires. They may be more appropriate for, say, one of the fireplaces at Biltmore Estate or Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Lodge than the spaces at our house, but he can build one heckuva fire.
Growing up with power outages during winter ice storms and being a Girl Scout for most of my life, I can build fires, too. So at the suggestion that I couldn’t build a fire, my back rose. After assuring my husband in no uncertain terms that I could manage quite well, I went back to the porch to finish my cleaning.
About an hour later and with panties sufficiently in a wad, he skulked to his recliner to watch a little TV for the next four hours. If that lip had poked out any further, he’d have tripped over it from a six-foot ladder. Seems he’d decided that I didn’t need him around since he didn’t do anything right. I assured him he is a most necessary component of our household and that I didn’t know what I would do without him.
Meanwhile, I’m wondering:
Is there some course in Husband School entitled: “You, Too, Can Get Out of Cleaning the House”? I don’t know any wife whose husband doesn’t do the same thing whenever they’re having a get together. I think my father teaches the class.
So, taking a lesson from my mother, I have a loaf of bread ready for the next time.
Except I put it in the freezer.
Helen Person is a columnist for the Barrow Journal. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.