Getting back to our story, in which my wife was yelling at me for devolving into a quasi-freeloader and failing to help her out enough with domestic chores, as she went to remove the pink towel that was wrapped around her head so she could blow-dry her hair in the next room, I hunkered down on my side on the bathroom floor and tried to plug the stove back in so she could finish cooking our lunch.
The outlet was hiding behind a softball-sized hole in the cabinet, the back of which was only about two inches from the wall, so it was tough for me to get any purchase on the sucker. Instead, I called my wife my favorite rabid pet names, not minding too much if she heard, considering how much she’d been lambasting me just a few harrowing minutes before.
“Jesus Fucking Christ!” I said as she re-emerged. Surprisingly, she didn’t shoot boiling blood at me from her eyeballs like a horned toad on crack, but instead wordlessly volunteered to take over and managed, with her deft feminine touch, to feed the plug into the outlet while I stood up and contemplated stomping on her head just to break the monotony, along with her skull.
Sure enough, when she pressed the button on the stove this time, it beeped into action, and everything was hunky-dory once again. Praise the Lord of Technology!
Even though she’d claimed she was in a rush, she found the time needed to cook some tomatoes and consolidate them with the bacon and the onions once they’d finished frying.
Minutes later, we were sitting in an incongruously civilized fashion across from each other at the cluttered kitchen table eating our bowls of brown rice and tomato sauce without attempting to impale each other with our chopsticks.
“I’m sorry I got so angry at you,” she said.
“That’s okay. I’m sorry I don’t help out enough.”
“I have to learn how to control my anger better.”
One of the criticisms she’d hurled at me before the radioactive smoke had cleared was that I hadn’t changed after all these years (she can blame Billy Joel for instructing me not to). The funny thing is that she claims that she has changed, having supposedly become more serene, forgiving, and understanding, but I can’t vouch for that. If I find a scrap of evidence that she has, I’ll be sure to let you know.
I’d been attempting to release the fluid that was trapped in my right ear throughout the day without success. Both before and after we finished eating, she told me to hop up and down on one foot (unwittingly paraphrasing Raffi as he sings “Knees Up, Mother Brown”) while holding a paper towel against my ear. This proved bootless.
(By the way, when I got home from teaching my morning class, she was eager to see me, jumping up and down herself like a kangaroo on a pogo stick. Talk about mood swings–sheece!)
After lunch, she tried to wheedle me into coming with her to teach a new pair of students, two sisters who go to her church. I declined. I was still hemorrhaging internally from her pre-prandial assault, so I opted to stay home and recover–or else bleed to death–whichever came first.
She whinged a bit more and frowned at me through the window of the vestibule, but I refused to yield.
That gave me time to relax for awhile and even take a short nap with the new steam-heating device we bought, a mattress pad that makes you feel woozy enough to snooze successfully.
Later I met her for dinner at an Italian restaurant and it was pleasant enough. No harsh words or poison-tipped spears were exchanged. After that we went to a coffee shop where she ordered a cup of black coffee and I had peppermint tea (I usually avoid caffeine in the evening as it tends to contribute to my insomnia). While she moved pictures from her phone onto mine, I read Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse for the first time since my senior year in college, intermittently leaning sideways in an attempt to drain my ear into a napkin. At one point I thought I’d succeeded. Suddenly I could hear again. Eureka! Shazam! Hot dang!
But then the muffled sensation returned, and I gave up.
When we got home, Jina asked me to take the frozen bag of food garbage out to the shrine devoted to the garbage gods, then told me to wait a minute while she assembled several plastic bags of paper trash, stuffing the smaller ones into the one large one labelled with Korean writing that proves it’s the product of locals and not some fly-by-night Arlo Guthrie-a-la-Alice’s-Restaurant wannabe.
“Push it down with your foot,” she said.
When I pressed the heel of my shoe against the top, the bag fell sideways. Jina righted it and said I should try again. This time as soon as the four flaps of the outer bag hung out far enough to be tied, one of the inner bags burst with a loud pop!
Jina shrieked and said, “Why did you tie up the bags? I told you not to!”
“Sorry, I forgot.”
(You don’t know how many times I’ve had to say sorry in this marriage. She no longer accepts my apologies, deeming them disingenuous.)
While I fumbled with the greasy knot in one of the bags, she cut to the chase by ripping hers open and I promptly followed suit.
Since she was still livid and I’d had enough of her temper for one day, after depositing the garbage bags on the edge of the pile where you sometimes see in the semi-darkness resourceful homeless old women gathering cardboard or recyclables to trade in somewhere for cash, I suppose, I went for a walk up the little nearby mountain, even though it was cold.
After all, it was a lot colder at home.
As Sweet Brown would say, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”