The Multiverse of Marriage

I’m starting to realize that having a child can reveal fissures in your marriage you never knew existed. After ten years of marriage, I learned yesterday that my wife believes it’s perfectly acceptable to feed my son an unheated Pop Tart. Yes, you heard it right, unheated. 

She served our only child, sole progeny of our genetic code, a raw rectangular tart-filled puck, colloquially known as a Pop Tart. Although most normal inhabitants of Earth intuitively understand the origins of the word Pop Tart, I will now consult the Oxford English Dictionary in case any other visitors from an alternate universe may be reading this blog besides my wife. According to the OED, Pop Tart was first used in 1964 as a “proprietary name for a flat, rectangular pastry with a sweet filling (typically a fruit preserve), intended to be heated in a toaster.” The keyword being, heated. 

“Why is Thomas eating an unheated Pop-Tart?” I asked. 

“You don’t have to heat the glazed ones. We never did growing up,” responds my wife.

Figures. Over the years, I’ve learned that many of my wife’s bizarro food behaviors trace back to her childhood. My wife says she was raised in the South, but you’d never know it if you tasted her sweet tea, which is so weak it barely raises your glucose levels, much less induces a proper sugar coma like southern sweet tea should. My wife learned her tea recipe from her mom, who apparently misread a recipe somewhere, confusing the part where you’re supposed to add a little water to the sugar and not the other way around. 

And my wife’s sweet tea is just the tip of the iceberg–iceberg in this case referring to iceberg lettuce, which she believes is a mere plate garnish, meant to decorate the other more substantive bits in a salad. Honestly, I just feel bad for the poor teenage boy working at Zaxby’s when she orders a grilled chicken salad with “no lettuce.” It’s painful to watch: 

His acne reddens. He swipes quickly at the cash register screen. He looks down, stares at the floor awhile. He decides to reconfirm.

“You did say a grilled chicken salad with no lettuce, right?”

“Yes,” she responds.

Now he looks up at the ceiling, eyes closed, as if searching deep within for any memory of an applicable word problem from high school geometry or algebra, maybe even calculus or physics (he looks smart). But, alas, none of these advanced mathematics classes has prepared him for this real life moment of complexity, when a woman strides into Zaxby’s and asks for a salad with no lettuce. In that moment, he is thinking what we are all thinking: the request defies the laws of mathematics, of physics–of reality itself. 

Besides unheated Pop Tarts, weak sweet tea, and salads with no lettuce, I could easily go on building my case that my wife is an interdimensional traveler (for instance, she puts ice in milk and doesn’t put milk on cereal), but I will stop here out of respect for the sanctity of marriage, knowing long ago I vowed to love and cherish this strange woman from an alternate universe. 

That said, the craziest thing about all this, though, is she believes she’s the normal one. When pushed for evidence, however, she only cites my repulsion to mustard, which she thinks is such a severe transgression that it calls into question my very claim to be an American–or at least an American from this dimension. 

Keeping Track of a Lost Nut

YouTube should be banned. I spent five minutes watching a man perform a small engine repair, which inspired me to waste three hours trying to attempt the repair myself before I finally realized I had better just load up the trailer and fork over cash to someone more competent in Briggs and Stratton mechanics. This was yet another blow to my pride. I’ve already surrendered basic auto repair over to others and now I can’t even fix my own lawn mower. 

I’d like to think I could have fixed it myself if I had the proper tools and time, but who am I kidding? If I had the proper tools, I would have spent half a day searching for them because apparently all my tools go on vacation just when I need them most. For instance, I spent nearly thirty minutes on my hands and knees searching through the grass for a ⅝ hex nut that I thought I had dropped. Really, it was just living the high life and sunning on top of a wooden fence post. I had put it on the fence post so I wouldn’t lose it, but that only works if you remember that you put it there. 

The problem is I’m one of those people who doesn’t have a brain for details. Never have, never will. In college, one of my dorm mates could watch any run-of-the-mill movie once and then recite large portions of dialogue, word for word, back to you a year later. Meanwhile, if I watched the same movie, I would have forgotten nearly everything about it within hours, no alcohol needed to perform that feat. I mean, I’d remember the gist of the movie, like who lives or dies or falls in love, etc, but details like dialogue and characters’ names would be lost to me. 

And thus it is with my repair efforts. I often know the gist of how to repair something, but distilling the gist down to nuts-and-bolts details is where I go awry, hence the unneeded search and rescue mission for the lost nut chilling on the fence post. 

Thankfully, opposites attract, and I married a woman who lives and breathes details and plans and schedules. She more or less keeps track of the lost nut that is me and tells me the important details of day-to-day life that I need to know. In return, I cut the grass each week (at least when the lawnmower isn’t broken), take out the trash, and occasionally load the dishwasher. 

Sometimes I think her color-coded daily planner is her first love, but I can’t complain too much. If she didn’t love me a little bit, I figure she would have poisoned me years ago, likely by sneaking a daily planner into my hands to cause anaphylactic shock. 

Bon Appetit, Your Pipe Repair is Served

I know most people are tired of masks, but they do come in handy in times of crisis, like when you smell like a sewer and need to purchase miscellaneous items for an emergency pipe repair. Under normal circumstances, after digging up the oozing drain pipe, I would have at least taken a few seconds to spritz myself in Febreze before departing for Lowes. In Covid times, when people’s nostrils are covered, I figure I can save a few seconds and go straight to Lowes smelling like a swamp rat and not bring shame and disgrace on my household. 

My wife is not a big fan of malodorousness. In fact, one of her major weaknesses is sensitivity to smells, mainly those that adhere to and emanate from my person. Sometimes she says I smell like the barn, calves, pigs, or moldy hay. The fact that she can distinguish each of the aromas is proof that her petite nose is fertile ground for olfactory receptors. Meanwhile, the large acreage inside my nostrils is mostly barren wasteland, incapable of growing much but mucus. Of course, if an overactive nose was her worst feature, then I’d be just fine. Wearing deodorant mostly everyday is a small sacrifice to make, and everybody has flaws. But the fact that she also has a weak stomach compounds the problem.

“That smell makes me feel queasy,” she says one day.

“That stench is nauseating,” she claims, as I walk through the door.

“You smell like a trash can. I’m going to throw up,” she warns.

“What smell?” I  ask.

To help me understand the subtleties of my aromas, she often resorts to food analogies. Stale means I’m past my expiration date for a shower. Sour means the sweat on my body is fermenting and rising. Burnt means I smell like the charred inside of my bee smoker and need to be hosed down before the fire spreads. Fishy means I protrude the smell of freshly-caught bass, hopefully of the wall-hanging variety. 

Anyway, I made it in and out of Lowes without leaving a trail of dry-heaving and gagging people in my wake, successfully completed the repair, and then (after all that work, in the misting rain no less) was barred from entering my house by my very own wife. She stood guard at the back door and made me strip off my clothes and put them in a trash bag. I was only allowed entry on the condition that I would go straight to the shower and scrub real good. 

“You smell like rotten eggs,” she said. 

an oozing burst drain pipe