The other day Paul met a cheese he didn’t like. I never expected this. I’ve seen him savor cheese platters that smell like an autopsy being performed in a college locker room during a natural gas leak. My world suddenly made much less sense.
Just as I was recovering from the shocking cheese aversion, he made the bed. For the first time in twenty-two years. I panicked and asked, “Why would you do that?” in the same voice I’d ask a home invader, “Why here?”
Paul said, “Because the people across the street can see our bedroom.”
I blurted, “But they’ve been able to see our unmade bed for five years. Why is this important to you now?”
He shrugged and ambled away, leaving me reeling in confusion and anxiety, somewhat like when my surgeon told me I had cancer. The fact that I’m reacting at all similarly to a bed-making crisis and life-threatening health news may surprise you, but not me. I have a long track record of overreacting.
Like that time in Buffalo, New York as it was approaching Christmas during our first year there. I heard a fire engine siren a couple doors away, so I chucked Muriel the cat into her crate, jammed my arms into a coat, and shouted at Paul, “Fire! We have to evacuate! Now!”
Paul complied, taking what felt like an ice age to get his coat and shoes on.
I burst into the foyer of our duplex, wide-eyed and sweaty, Muriel’s cage dangling from my hand. Her eyes bulged with terror as Paul slouched behind me with his hands in his pockets.
The couple next door were standing just inside the main front door with their three young children, all relaxed and smiling. None of them were dressed to evacuate during an Upstate New York winter. I understood nothing at this point.
They turned from gazing at the fire truck, and I shouted, “Where’s the fire?!”
The littlest kid pointed toward the truck as the vehicle slowly made its way toward us. He said with glee, “It’s Fire Truck Santa!”
I looked again, and sure enough, that sadistic holiday bastard was waving his Christmas cheer at all the happy kids in the neighborhood.
The three of us slunk back into our unit (as much as a cat trapped in a crate can slink) to the sounds of laughter. I mumbled, “Merry Christmas” as my face turned a bright Rudolph-nose color.
I suppose that wasn’t as bad as the escalator incident at Sea-Tac Airport. A tank-sized drunk guy passed out at the top and hurtled backwards, landing on a tot and his mother (they were fine).
Paul and I were standing nearby, and as I was unaware of the embarrassingly obvious red emergency stop buttons on escalators, I did the next best thing. I spread my arms out at an angle, and in my most commanding voice yelled, “Stand back! My husband is an occupational therapist!”
At six-foot-five, Paul did his best to be invisible as he slowly sidled away from me. Sadly for him, at this point there was no hiding. He came forward to help—which he would’ve done anyway—but his facial expression said, “Good God, I hope no one thinks I’m the guy she’s talking about.”
I probably should work on the overreaction thing, but I worry that Paul might be staying with me just for the entertainment value.