“We just left the mall and your son has a green beard,” my wife’s voice came through the earpiece; she didn’t even say ‘hello’.
“Oh,” I said with the phone tucked against my ear as I typed an email to my boss; I had a deadline to meet.
Were they on sale?
“You know how he’s started carrying things around under his chin?”
“I wasn’t aware he was doing that.”
“Well he is, and he took a whole pack of half-chewed gummy bears, and shoved them under there, and then fell asleep. They melted.”
“Did his chin get stuck to his chest?”
“Yeah – he was wearing the green fleece shirt my mom sent him, and when I peeled the material away from his chin, he had all this green fuzzy stuff stuck to it.”
“Fantastic,” I said, “See you at home, hon. Drive safely.”
“I will,” she assured me, “Don’t forget to – YOU SON-OF-A (blanket), STAY IN YOUR OWN (gosh-darn) you (silly) (guy).” She screamed at whoever cut her off as she merged onto the expressway.
When I got home, I came through the door, put my keys on the counter, and went into the living room. There was my baby boy standing at the coffee table wearing a pair of overalls slamming two toys together with a look of baby-concentration on his face. Then he saw me, and the best part of my day started.
“Dad!” he yelled. He dropped the toys, and ran to me. I hoisted him up in the air the way I always do; he giggled, and gave me a prescription strength hug the way he always does.
What wasn’t the same about today was that my son had gone through leprechaun puberty.
He had green fur all over the underside of his chin, and on his neck.
“Wow; mommy wasn’t kidding, huh?”
“I’m never taking your son anywhere, ever again,” My wife said, her voice muffled by the pile of blankets under which she was hidden.
When my wife hides from me, I know something major is about to hit me between the eyes.
“Come on out, honey,” I coaxed as I put the baby down and went over to a pile of shopping bags next to our dinning room table. It wasn’t a difficult puzzle to solve.
“No,” She answered.
A man can gauge how much money his wife has spent, not by what’s in the bags she brings home from the mall, but from the name of the stores that have been lithographed onto the bags.
A big bag from Target is a lot less frightening than a tiny turquoise bag emblazoned with that name I’ve come to loathe; it’s an evil name. It’s the name of a shameless whore; the name is Tiffany.
Tiffany is the crack dealer every woman has on speed dial. Once Tiffany has our poor girls hooked, it’s for life. Nancy Reagan conveniently left Tiffany’s name out of her eighties campaign for the eradication of drugs. You want to know why? It’s because Nancy herself doesn’t have the will power to just say no; not to Tiffany. She’s just as addicted as every other woman who’s had a taste of the black-tar jewelry sweet little Tiff peddles in her high end stores. Tiffany, I hope your cute little head falls off and rolls across the floor of a rest-stop bathroom.
I didn’t see any of those bags, so I knew it couldn’t be that bad.
I saw two large Wal-Mart bags. That was ok.
I can handle Wal-Mart. Good girl.
I saw a bigger, fancier bag from ‘Gymboree’. Baby clothes; expensive baby clothes.
Then I saw the one that had her cowering like a scared kitten beneath the blankets; a bag from Macy’s that could have doubled as a parachute. The big red star shined against the glossy white polyurethane. I felt like I was in the cross hairs of a Soviet submarine. Ping…ping…ping.
“What?” she said from within her burrow at the end of the couch.
“How much what?” She asked.
“I’m going to fill your shoes with dirty cat litter if you don’t answer me.”
“I got a few outfits for this winter, but I can take them back if they don’t fit. In fact I think I’m going to. I bought a tee-shirt there that I didn’t realize was fifty dollars.”
Here is the point where a man might lose his head.
Here’s the point where a man might confiscate his wife’s credit cards, and feed them to her.
Here’s the point where a man might even hope his beautiful wife might have developed a transient case of kleptomania, and that something in the bag made it out of the store without the pleasure of having its barcode scanned.
Here’s the point where my wife, the evil genius that she is, made it seem like it was my fault.
The blankets flew off, and my wife leapt to her little feet.
Scheisse (German for ‘oh darn’)
“Don’t you dare get mad! You went out and spent almost a hundred dollars on coffee in one week. You made me buy the Nintendo, and the TV. You wanted Chinese take out. You spent eight dollars at Burger King on yourself! You bought a guitar pedal. You bought DVD’s, and games. You bought fifty thousand songs from I-Tunes. You buy expensive food and then eat it. You have us spending so much on this apartment I HATE, and we don’t have a house. We have two old cars, and we can’t send the baby to college. He’ll never be happy, because all the kids will make fun of him and it’s because you wanted to buy a TV instead of nice clothes for him!”
“Honey, all those things you brought up; that was over the course of eight years. I’m sorry, though, I suppose.”
“No you’re not. You don’t care.”
“I do, sweetie. Look, I mean it ok.”
“Tell your son that when he has to go to trade school.”
How does she do it?
What I do know is that I spent about the same amount on coffee as she spends on those trashy tabloid magazines where the unflattering pictures of celebrities outnumber the actual words by a ratio of five thousand to one. She brought the Nintendo home as a surprise, and never gives me a turn. The TV was a Father’s Day Gift. We both ate that Chinese food – in fact, she ordered it. It wasn’t Burger King, it was McDonalds. The guitar pedal was totally worth it, and absolutely necessary for the Hendrix song I needed to know how to play – and that was six years ago. I’ve purchased twenty songs from I-Tunes, and illegally downloaded the rest. What else am I supposed to do with food? Paint pictures of it? Our apartment is charming and it’s on the beach. Our cars are paid for. The baby won’t be going to college for eighteen years – but a fund has been established.
She’s right, though; he might never be happy – kids very well may make fun of him; but it’s not going to be because he fails to show up to school in the Macy’s fall collection for first graders – it’s going to be because the minivan pulling up to the curb each morning is going to have a pile of blankets puffing on a long skinny cigarette instead of a real mommy behind the wheel.
You may be thinking that my wife isn’t in her right mind. This may not be the first time you’ve thought this. But believe me, it’s not my wife; it’s the ‘Tiffany’ talking. She’s really a very rational person, and she says she can stop at any time. I’m to blame. It’s my fault. I made her buy the jewelry. I push her buttons, and make her lose her temper; she has to calm down somehow. I shouldn’t say anything. It’s…it’s just better this way.