Short moment, long story

15 Jan

I don’t have feet. I have chunks of frozen hamburger meat that have been molded into a vague ‘foot’ shape. The chunks were then wrapped in paper-thin skin suits and attached to my ankles. 

They are always cold. They are cold in the dead of winter and the dog days of summer. They are cold in cotton and cashmere. They are cold (and itchy) in thick wool. They can be buried in two pairs of socks, slippers, and blankets, and they will still be cold. 

Sometimes, they get tired of their constant frozen-ness. They then morph into heat seeking missiles. And, at night, they lock on to their preferred heat source: the portable furnace known as my husband. In a strange zero sum scenario, Ken’s body – especially his midsection- pumps all of the heat back into the universe that my feet lack. The skin-wrapped frozen hamburgers have interrupted many an otherwise peaceful slumber with their subconscious heat seeking behavior.Once the missiles have acquired their target, said subject inevitably responds with a high-pitched, inhuman noise. For the most part, I have done my best to avoid eliciting the noise. The heat seeking frozen hamburgers have been on their best behavior. 

And then there was Wednesday night. 

I am a big believer in the equitable distribution of chores. It’s how I was raised – my mom and my sister would cook dinner, my dad and I would do the dishes. My mom was in charge of the inside of the house, with gleaming floors and crisply ironed linens, while my dad ruled over the outside, cultivating wild raspberries, unruly Rose of Sharons*, and malevolent hostas. 

I brought these equitable principles to my marriage. Luckily, my husband is very patient, generous, and cooperative. 

Tuesday night, we had friends over for dinner. I made my fabulous meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and veggies.  After we ate, I cleared the table, rinsed the plates and glasses and silverware, and put them in the dishwasher. I then faced the rising mound of pots, pans, and prep bowls. They seemed to have multiplied while we ate. A watched pot may not boil, but un-watched pots and pans quickly revert to wanton behavior, procreating in the sink. 

So I turned to my husband and asked him, sweetly as could be, to do the remaining dishes. “Not right now, of course,” I soothed. He quickly assented. 

Our guests stayed longer than anticipated. At 11, I went to bed. Husband is a night owl, so I assumed he did the dishes in the wee hours of the night, possibly by candlelight. 

Wednesday morning revealed more wild dish-copulation. I had to get the child to school and myself to work. “Please get to the dishes,” I gently reminded as we quickly kissed goodbye. 

Wednesday was a long day – I stayed at work til 7:30 and still encountered heavy traffic the whole way home. When I came in the door, close to 9 pm, husband and child were absent and the pots were smoking cigarettes after copulating yet again with the pans. 

There were two options at this point. 

1) He said he would do the dishes, so we will now commence with war of stalemate. The dishes will continue their unfettered amorous ways. He (or she) who cracks first and actually does the dishes loses. 

2) I do the damn dishes. I lose the battle, possibly the whole war. 

I quickly devised Option 3: do the dishes. Lose this battle. Then, revenge. 

I do the dishes. Husband and child return. Child is safely tucked into bed. I change into pajamas and quietly peruse a library book. Time passes. 

Around 11, husband comes upstairs to begin his bedtime preparations. I saunter over to him and nonchalantly say, “Guess what I have?”

He is only mildly interested. “Not pinkeye again, I hope.”

I sidle up along side him, touching his arm, deepening my voice, trying to be as seductive  as one can possibly be while wearing thermal pajamas. “Guess what I have,” I purr. 

He is intrigued. Clearly I have been inspired by the licentious dishes. He lets me take him by the arm and lead him to the bed. He lies down. I curl up alongside him and unbutton his shirt, dispensing little kisses along the way. “Guess what I have,” I whisper in his ear. He is grinning in anticipation. 

Cold feet, mothafuckaaaa!,” I jubilantly yelp as the heat-seeking missiles of frozen hamburger meat  activate and immediately hone in on their bare bellied target. They clamp on like barnacles, toes wiggling wildly to amplify the effect. 

 I have been struggling to find the proper words to describe the result. It was somewhere between a squeak and a screech, with distinct tones of surprise, anguish, and betrayal. It was the sort of noise Mickey Mouse would make if he happily went to work, suddenly realized he forgot Toodles or whatever, and returned to the Clubhouse, only to find Minnie in a compromising position with Donald Duck.


I didn’t say anything, no explanation or apology. But now, as I write this, I have the perfect punchline. As he was yowling, I should have said, “you know what they say. Revenge is a dish best served…. Cold.” 

And then I would drop the mic, put on my sunglasses, and drive off on a motorcycle of flames and victory. 

So that’s our life. How’s yours?

*While writing this, I realized I had no idea how to properly pluralize more than one Rose of Sharon bush. A spirited debate ensued on Facebook. The concensus seems to be “Rose of Sharon bushes.” I think my way is better though so I’m sticking to it. 

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