"I have an idea," I said to my husband last night after dinner. "Let's play a game."
"Yeah?" he asked, one eyebrow raised hopefully while the other managed to arch in an 'uh-oh' sort of way, unsure of the direction this game would take.
"Yes. Let's play: If you had to name the top things that drive you crazy about your spouse what would they be?"
"Because this has train wreck written all over it. Remember the last game we played?"
"That was a fine game until you messed it up," I informed him. The game had been if you could sleep with one person again, who would it be? We were both supposed to write that person's name on a slip of paper and trade at the designated time. Of course, it was an unspoken rule that we would write each other's names on the papers, laugh, kiss, hug, agree, and have a beautiful evening. My husband of course, wrote the name of some woman I had heretofore never heard of, whose name began with the letter Y.
"You can't be serious!" I said, throwing the slip of paper at him. "You were supposed to write ME."
"How was I supposed to know that? I thought you wanted the truth."
"I did want the truth. So long as your truth matched my truth."
I spent the night in the guest room, dreaming of big breasted women named Yolanda.
"Okay," I agreed. "Maybe that wasn't the best game. Let's try this one. Please?"
My husband looked at me skeptically, then pushed his hands into his pocket. "Okay, fine."
"I'll go first," I said. I had a long list I wanted to get through. "I hate the way you throw your dirty socks almost into the bedroom hamper but they don't quite make it. They land, one right in front of the other, as if they are trying to walk their way to the hamper, but they just can't get up the speed." I crossed my arms and thought about it. Yes, that was a good start. "Your turn."
"Well," he asked, cocking his head uncertainly. "I hate the way there's writing stuff all over the house. Papers, laptops, research books, pens. But it's also what I love about you. So I guess I don't really hate it. There, I'm done."
"That's it? That's all you got?"
"Sorry, yes. You're up."
Now I was the one feeling like I was walking into a trap. But he was probably just testing the waters. I had to go for the big guns, get him to retaliate. "You scare the hell out of me when you drive. I have to close my eyes every time we merge."
"Doesn't that make you want to change the way you drive?"
"Well, does it bother you at all? I know a man's masculinity can be tied up with cars and such."
"Oh." I furrowed my brows, disappointed. I thought this would at least incite a conversation. He would tell me that he was sorry for the way he weaves through traffic like he's in an episode of COPS and promise to never do it again. But not a word of penance was uttered from his lips. "Your turn," I sighed, turning it back over to him.
"I only had the one pet peeve and you've heard it. I'm out."
"No. I can't think of anything else you do that drives you nuts. You are just so adorable, scattering your things around the house like a little kitten."
"Okay, that's another thing that drives me crazy. The way you call me things like 'little kitten' or 'cute little mouse'. Or sad little puppy' You make me sound like I belong in a pet shop."
"Noted. No more animal metaphors. Got anything else?"
"Yes!" I then described the way he couldn't scramble eggs, turned up the volume way too high whenever Van Halen was playing on the radio, and never called my mother just to say 'hello'.
"All noted," he said, studying me, his face calm, serene, and amused. I was sure my face looked more like Yosemite Sam's. "Got all that out of your system?" he asked.
"Yes," I said, suddenly embarrassed. This had been my idea so why was I the one feeling bad?
"You know," I said, pouring him a diet coke, "I may not love the way you drive but I appreciate that you do it. I hate driving."
"I know, honey."
"And at least you get your socks kinda close to the hamper."
"I do my best."
"And don't lose the animal metaphors. They've kinda grown on me."
"Noted." He squeezed my hand. "You're a mess, you know?"
"I know," I said. "How come I don't drive you as crazy as you drive me?"
"Maybe I just love you more."
"Or maybe you're just getting better at playing my games than I am."
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