By Scott Anthony
Trying to keep up with our resolution to walk more, last Saturday we loaded up the dogs,Yogi and Zuzu and headed for the nearby woods. In the truck, Mrs. Anthony was more silent than usual, staring out her window. It was sunny and beautiful this afternoon, but still below freezing as we parked along side the road on Weyerhaeuser Way and leashed up the beasties and began along the path.
Normally, we talk about little things like bills that need to be paid, what’s not in the fridge, how the dog’s leg is healing and when we might go on vacation next, but Mrs. A remained mute. When we reached the midway point of our route and she still hadn’t uttered a word, using my highly developed sense of wrath detection honed over 25 years of marriage, I asked her, “Everything ok? You’re awfully quiet.”
“Nothing” she said darkly, picking up the pace a bit. In the arcane world of wifespeak I have learned that this actually means, ‘something,’ and though I am always tempted to let it go and just rattle on about my latest project or the new joke I’m trying to perfect, this only makes things worse. If left to fester ‘nothing’ will eventually grow from ‘something’ directly into ‘holy cow, I’m sorry!’ It is part of the husband’s job to gently pry. “What’d I do now,” I offered.
“If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” To the married man, this is a conundrum. She is punishing you for not knowing something by not telling you and it’s maddening. Fortunately through diligence I have found a key to the problem. I simply feign knowledge, even though I haven’t the slightest idea of what the problem is, by saying, “OH…I know what the problem is!”
This always creates the opportunity for a clue. She turned slightly and with a slight frown said, “You COULD have said something…it’s not like it happens every week.” This was the tipoff that the ‘nothing’ had to do with one of two things. Either she had folded all of my clothes and put them into the correct dresser drawers for me, or she had changed something about her appearance, so I ankled my way up closer to better scrutinize her.
Yep…underneath the cute hat Mom had knitted her for her birthday I saw the telltale sign of an altered hair color. I told her, “It looks nice, honey.” This clever, blanket answer covers a lot of territory and has soothed many steamed feminine egos, but, alas, not today.
“WHAT looks nice?” she growled, loudly enough to make Yogi turn around, slightly unhinged. This isn’t good. She had shot down my buoyant little love note and as it spiraled in, I struggled to come up with a proper rejoinder.
Unfortunately I was not quick enough and she solved the dilemma for me.
“It’s our anniversary.” A cold spike thrust itself into my chest and I sucked in frozen air. The absolute bane of the married man, the Forgotten Anniversay and as I reeled, it came to me: We were married on July 3rd.
“NO it is not our anniversary!” I countered feebly, “I’ve still got seven months.”
Mrs. A stopped abruptly. We were nearing the last bend in the path before the end of the walk and after readjusting Smiley’s harness she stood and faced me, “The anniversary of the day we met.”
You can insert an image here of me rolling my eyes and smacking my forehead. Except I didn’t actually do that. Yes, she was right. We had met on the first Saturday of November, 1987, and though it is not a big deal for most people, since that day I had made an annual, personal observance of the day by leaving love notes for her in various places around the house. So now, for me to forget the card, the flower and the kiss on the cheek that marks the good fortune of the day my path crossed with hers, it’s inexcusable.
Mrs. A and her dog had started off again without me and my dog and I had to trot to catch up.
As part of our fitness regimen, we had read that while walking, it’s helpful the breath through your nose, exhale through the mouth and to keep your abdominals sucked in was you walk.
I don’t always remember to do this, but this day I did, so I figured I should remind Mrs. Anthony, ‘Stomach in?’ I asked. She picked up the pace and replied, ‘Butt o