Keeping the mystery alive
If I live to be 100, I have no doubt the mystery will remain alive in my relationship.
After 25 years together, two-thirds of it married, one would think there would not be many surprises left in life. But no, almost daily I still find myself belly-laughing or scratching my head at some unexpected comment or exchange with my husband.
Sure, there are times when we are completely on the same page, and move through our daily routines like a well-oiled machine. But often, it seems, we are from two different planets.
Now don’t get me wrong; it keeps things interesting. And our communication ranges from the bizarre to the humorous to what I like to call the “Cool Hand Luke.” (“What we have here is … failure to communicate.”)
My favorite, by far, is the bizarre. I’ll give you an example. Over the summer a pair of small pom-poms fell off my slippers. Immediately, the dog and I created a little game where he’d have to guess which hand held the pom-pom. The collie would inspect both of my closed fists then smack one with his paw. His accuracy rate was astonishing.
But soon we grew tired of the game and donated the pom-poms to the cat. My husband reported that early in the morning, the cat would bat them around and chase them. I’d later find the pom-poms under the stove, near the refrigerator and under the table. After picking them up way too many times, I finally decided they had to go.
The pom-pom conversation with my husband one morning went something like this:
Me: “Hey, where do you want to keep these pom-poms for the cat?”
Tim (perplexed): “But those are the dog’s…”
Me: “I know, but we’re tired of them. You can have them for the cat.”
Me: “So, where do you want them?”
Tim (without hesitation): “Put them in my lunchbox.”
Huh? What? Did he just say his lunchbox?
At this point, I had so many questions. Had he heard me correctly? Did he understand our conversation at all? Did I? Why would he choose his lunchbox? A curious person by nature, I sometimes pursue conversations like this with a vigor he does not enjoy.
I cackled loudly, waking the dog, then stifled my laughter.
“Your lunchbox? Why your lunchbox?” I asked. I just had to know.
He gave me a weary, “Why not?” But I was intrigued. And it was too late to turn back now. My questioning attitude was in high gear.
“I’m just wondering why the lunchbox?” I pressed. “I’m just trying to understand.”
I couldn’t let it drop. I needed to know the answer. What would possess him? Please, just tell me why, I thought.
Unfortunately for me, his only wish was to finish his coffee in peace, and he refused to elaborate. By that point, I was wide awake, packing lunches, my imagination running wild. What else did he keep in that lunchbox? More laughter. He shook his head.
Mars, meet Venus. He couldn’t figure out why I found it so funny or even cared in the first place. Meanwhile, I was dying to know why he said what he did.
I guess some mysteries just aren’t meant to be solved.
Another day, he was hard at work remodeling something in our old house and came into the kitchen from his workshop with sawdust all over his boots.
“Hey, hey, your shoes are filthy!” I said, trying to stop him at the door.
“Don’t worry, it comes right off,” he replied casually, and kept walking.
My point exactly, I thought. I stood there, mouth agape, and cocked my head just like my collie does when he is working over a problem in his mind. Was he serious?
It remains a mystery to this day. I still wonder: did he really think I was worried about the shoes? Or did he know I didn’t want sawdust tracked through the house and he was just messing with me? Inquiring minds want to know.
Our communication gap has become even more fascinating to me since we had our daughter, who is now 10. Elizabeth and I spend so much time together that we almost seem to share one brain at times. We’re clearly from the same planet.
One night at dinner she was talking to her dad, and turned to me for help.
Liz: “Mom, what’s that fish I liked that started with a Z?”
Liz: “That's it!”
Now it was Tim’s turn to tilt his head like the dog and figure out what just happened.
She and I understand each other so well that I sometimes have to translate when she’s speaking to her father. She once referred to having a pain in her testicle, and my husband’s eyebrows shot up as he looked to me for an explanation.
“She means her clavicle,” I said. He was visibly relieved.
Another time he asked me why she was so concerned about being adopted.
“She said she can’t be outside alone because she might get adopted,” he related. “She means 'abducted',” I said.
But even Lizzy and I have our issues at times. Like the day she asked, “Mom, can you breathe without your tonsils?” I explained that sure, sometimes people could breathe even better after they’d had their tonsils removed.
A minute or two later, she said, “But ... so ... do they remove your whole nose, or just these?” and pointed to her nostrils.
Tonsils, nostrils -- it’s an easy mistake.
Last winter she announced she might be coming down with a cold. She said she knew this because her anal glands were swollen. I did the doggy head-tilt, and she pointed at her salivary glands. Snicker.
One day on the way home from school, she said, “Mom, did you know mama birds eat the food then throw it up and feed it to their babies?” I said, “That’s regurgitating, Lizzy!” She replied, “No, it’s not, it’s true, I swear. Ask my teacher!”
That one made me think maybe the apple didn’t fall far from her father’s tree.
Last year, my husband got me a beautiful anniversary card, and wrote a personal note inside. I was teary from the lovely sentiment until I read the last line, where he had penned, “You are a diamond in the rough.”
I looked at him over the top of the card, to see if he was being funny, and could see there was no malicious intent. Instead, he smiled lovingly. At that moment, like so many other times over the years, I knew the mystery would always be alive.
And the beat goes on.