Posts Tagged ‘husband’

“The Wrong Side of the Road”- by Alison Grambs

IMG_0428I drive this route all the time,” I hissed defiantly as my husband and I zipped down the golf cart path of our Florida community. “I could make this trip with my eyes closed, thank you very much.”

It was, of course, at this precise moment that my husband casually pointed out that I was driving on the wrong side of the road.

And by ‘other side’ I don’t mean I had just meandered a few inches over the dotted line; I was driving entirely on the other side of the golf cart path. A golf cart path that provides for two-way traffic- not just “Alison can drive wherever she wants” kind of traffic.

“Oh, puhlease!” I sputtered indignantly now, rolling my eyes for dramatic effect despite the fact it was pitch dark outside and Tommy wasn’t looking at me. (He was too busy clutching at the hang bar on our golf cart, shrieking that we were about to die.) “It’s not like anyone’s even coming this way,” I pointed out smugly, slowing down the cart so I could turn off onto the grass and reverse the cart. “So, just, ya know, calm down, dude.”

I mean, come on. My husband spent twenty years working in a profession in which he dealt with life and death situations every day. Seriously scary stuff. Hero stuff. Hardly was me and my cute little golf cart going off the road for, like, a nanosecond any reason to get all hysterical, right?

“It’s not like you can even tell which side is which in the dark,” I was stating even more smugly now as we continued down the path…in the wrong direction. 

That’s when my husband pointed out the fact that our golf cart has headlights. Very bright headlights. Headlights that light up the road for a good, oh, quarter mile or so. (Whatever.)

“Well, my contacts are bothering me lately, ” I snipped back annoyed. “I can’t see.”

That’s when my husband pointed out that I was not wearing my contacts. I was wearing my new glasses. The new glasses about which I have been raving because “I can see so clearly in these beauties!” (Whatever.) 

“Well,” I continue, still in defensive mode and still rolling my eyes, “whoever built this path should, like, have marked it way better than they did. You really can’t tell when you’re on the wrong side of the road.”

That’s when my husband pointed out the large median divider to our right. The one that was supposed to be to our left. The one that the designers of this golf cart path apparently added to certain points of the otherwise open path to alert commuters to the fact that there are two separate lanes of traffic.

Again, I roll my eyes, now adding a huffy huff for added effect. “Well, you can barely see that thing!”

That’s when my husband pointed out that the median is not only long enough, and wide enough, to accommodate several full-grown palm trees and bushes within its perimeter, but is also outfitted with myriad reflective devices. Reflective devices he claims are intended to discourage drivers like me from failing to see the median. (Whatever.)

“Well, it’s not like anyone is coming towards us,” I remarked casually. “We’re all alone.”

A comment my husband responded to with some murmuring about how that could ‘change at any time.’ That someone might come from the other direction. (Whatever.)

I was having none of it.

“Well, what can I say?” my voice now raised involuntarily to that slightly hysterical pitch that means I have lost the argument on paper, but am still fighting it hard-as-nails in my head. “I’ve got a lot on my mind. And the last thing I can be worried about is stupid traffic lanes.” 

Although certainly not the response the Department of Motor Vehicles would want to hear, this was true. I did, in fact, have a lot on my mind. 

Only ten days into the month of April and it’s been a whirlwind of activity and stress. Exactly a year has gone by since I was in the hospital. Pulmonary embolisms had sneaked into my lungs and threatened to take me out. Until now, I hadn’t ever really understood how much the whole almost dying thing can rattle a person’s psyche. The world looks different when you come lose to not being in it anymore. Yeesh. Close calls. And we’ve all had those close-calls. The only difference is, I was totally aware of mine at the time.

On top of that, all the longterm, personal writing projects I’ve been working on for the two years are finally coming to a state of finalization now. Which means I have to do the unthinkable: cease focusing on the creative writing (my strong suit and personal joy), and get to work mapping out marketing plans for each of them (so very not my strong suit and so very much not my personal joy.) It’s that time in the game when a writer no longer gets to say, “Oh, I’m still working on that project. Stay tuned.” The work is done, and now has to be pushed out and judged by the masses. (Or, in my case, the one person who will buy my books.)

Plus, I’m really, really disappointed with the season finale of “The Walking Dead.” Is Glenn still alive? Is Daryl dead? Does Alicia Florrick know that her new lover has a penchant for baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire? Not to mention how very weighed down I am by my failure to become fluent in French by the time my mother and I fly off to Paris this summer for a mother/daughter adventure. The best I can do right now is order un croissant. (And I’d probably mess that up by accidentally calling it a poisson.)

“Just get back into your lane please,” my husband, his voice now palpably testy, advised with an exhausted sigh.

It was the kind of exhausted sigh I hear him often. The one he lets out every time I break the kitchen garbage disposal by shoving artichoke leaves into it. The one he lets out when I decide to spray paint a piece of furniture in the house hot pink and accidentally end up spray painting parts of the house itself. The kind of exhausted sigh he lets out when I use the pointy ears of his full-size Yoda figure to dry my wet bras while doing laundry.

“Please…” my husband groans.

But I’m not ready to get back in my proper lane yet. Being on the wrong side, if only for a few seconds, feels good. I feel alive. Granted we’re traveling only 10 m/p/h, but it’s an exciting 10 m/p/h because it feels different. Defiant. Dangerous. Wild. For two years now I have been driving this golf cart of ours down the proper side of the road, following all the rules (well, except for that time I accidentally drove into the exit of a golf cart tunnel, but I digress.) 

There are people in the world who don’t follow the rules. Ever. People who do precisely what they are not suppose to do. People who climb mountains they’re told not to climb. People who write books they’re told will never sell. People who instigate fights they’re told they can never win. People who take up causes everyone else deems futile. People who drink milk not just past its expiration date, but waaaaaaay past it.  

As the golf cart keeps traveling the wrong way I do a quick mental check on where I stand among these people. Do I break the rules? Sometimes, yes. I can be just as impulsive as I can be practical. And, at least creatively, I am quite certain that I function way more out of the box than it in. And I like that. But sometimes I’m so busy functioning outside of the box that I have trouble finding my way back in it when it’s clearly time to grab hold.  That sucks. Then again, sometimes I think I play it too safe. Way too safe. And people who play it safe don’t make history.

But then again, do I want to make history? Not so sure. If it’s making history because I do something important like save people’s lives or invent a cure for a disease or discover a new country, sure. However, with my luck, the only way I’ll ever ‘make history’ is by getting attacked by a Megalodon in a swimming pool. Making the 10 o’clock news for being the first victim to die in the mouth of a previously extinct shark- a shark that then dies of Salmonella poisoning after eating me because I had sucked down expired milk that morning. Well, call me crazy, but that’s not the kind of history I want to make.  

I don’t exactly see my parents bragging at a dinner party about, “how very proud we are of our little Alison. Getting eaten by that historic shark in the kiddie pool at the Motel 6. (And yes, she’s even littler now haha!)” 

Breaking rules is fun. But man, it’s hard to know which ones to break. Hell, do I even know what the rules are on any given day? I mean, when you’re in your 40s, it sort of feels like the rules are always changing and somehow staying exactly the same. Weird. It’s hard to know which rules are for breaking and which are for following. What to challenge and what to accept in life. Which dreams are worth pursuing and which should just be dumped on the shoulder of the road as we drift onto a familiar exit ramp.

I stayed in the wrong lane of that golf cart path for a tiny bit more, trying to come to terms with what kind of person I am when it comes to rules. I doodled along just long enough to enjoy the sensation of the wrong direction breeze in my hair and chuckle at the sideways, wrong direction expression on my husband’s face. I was laughing; he was not. 

And then I freaked out and got back into the proper lane.

Tommy stopped clutching at his heart.

And we moved on…back on the right side of the road. 

 

 

 

“Let Go of My Sock, Please”- by Alison Grambs

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Bily & Sumter in Repose

 

One year ago today, my husband and I lost our furry baby, Bily.

He was 11 years old and loved us with all his heart and all eight of his remaining teeth. He was our daredevil companion on every road trip we took, be it via car or motorcycle, traveling all over the country with us and well up into Canada on several occasions as well. He was witness to us climbing down a 143 foot cliff over the Bay of Fundy. An adventurer at heart, relishing in new sights and new places. Afraid of nothing. A lover of life; a hater of pigeons.

Having no children of our own, Bily was the center of our daily focus. The four-legged child we’d ‘rescued’ from a pet store in upstate New York because he looked just so damn in need of a saving. He was a body and soul entirely dependent on us, and we reveled in our responsibility to give him a happy life. His personality was, for better or worse, a hilariously canine reflection of our own. And we were supposed to have many more years with him.

The seizure this otherwise happy pup suffered in April of last year had been a signal. Intellectually, we knew that of course, but emotionally, we just couldn’t process that there might be an end in sight. And for a few short weeks, all things pointed to the chance that the seizure had been an aberration. That our baby would continue to steal my ice cream out of my bowl, pee on the carpets, growl at my husband whenever he made the mistake of moving one of his toys.

So, there was a big, fat, gaping hole in our hearts when Bily died a month later, leaving us weakened us at the proverbial knees. Our once  happy threesome had instantly been dwindled down into a numbed twosome. The grief felt insurmountable. The trick God had played on us felt unforgivably cruel.

Hell, nooooooo, we said to ourselves repeatedly. We won’t even look at another dog for a long time, let alone get one!

Six months later, we met Sumter in Florida. One of the many unclaimed pups scheduled for mandatory euthanasia by the local animal control services. But a quick thinking staff member at the local Humane Society nearby had saved him from that end- scooping little Sumter up and taking him to her no-kill shelter for safe keeping and ( hopefully) adoption. 

A wildly comical puppy, Sumter reminded us so very much of Bily in spirit and temperament. It was eerie. But not enough to convince us he was meant to be ours. “He’s adorable,” we kept sighing. “Someone will snap him up in a heartbeat.” After all, we had made a promise not to get another dog until we felt emotionally and intellectually ready. This was too soon, we reminded ourselves as Sumter licked our faces. It would be a betrayal of Bily’s memory. Blah, blah, blah.

Still though, there little Sumter staring back at us through the pen every time we visited the shelter to volunteer. Doing his ‘run, run, run, leap!’ prancing/jumping thing around the shelter yard. Doing everything he could to demonstrate just how happy he could make us. Despite ourselves, we had already lovingly nicknamed him Maniac.

Four weeks later, under the cover of a torrential rainfall, that little maniac was coming home with us. It is a decision that changed our lives for the better, and a day that sent us on a wonderful new path to being new puppy parents. Since that day a lot has happened in my life that has been hard to suck down. Life changes, especially those that are unexpected, can be crippling both mentally and physically. But somehow, with just one long, sloppy wet drag of his happy puppy tongue across my face…one ‘run, run, run, leap!’ peace in Central Park…Sumter manages to make everything feel manageable. 

With Sumter’s age unknown, but the timing pretty close according to his size and weight and puppy teeth, we decided to make May 9th Sumter’s birthday. A tribute to his predecessor, whose spirit we glimpse in this little maniac every day. Sumter is an annual reminder of how the seemingly cruel cycle of life is, in fact, a perfect circle- the greatest of blessings if you look at the situation just right.

Happy Birthday, Sumter!

Now…let…go…of…my… sock…please.

 

“WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT” – by Alison Grambs

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Every summer Americans gather ’round the television set to take in the Discovery Channel’s annual broadcast of Shark Week – a week replete with shows focusing on, appropriately enough, sharks. From hour-long specials on the science of shark behavior (“that shark didn’t mean anything bad when it chewed that tourist up in South Africa. It was merely investigating…”) to extensive interviews with shark attack victims (“Um, yeah, dude, I looked down from my surfboard and saw these like, giant three rows of teeth and this like, eye as black as a doll’s eye coming up at me, dude, and I was like, dude, that thing just took my foot off!”) the arrival of Shark Week has always been something I eagerly anticipate. For I react to news involving someone getting mangled by a shark with the same enthusiasm some people react to hearing there is a sale on marijuana at the local drug dealer’s den. After all, my favorite movie of all time is “Jaws”; and I have the six foot Great White replica shark dangling over my bed to prove it.

This summer, however, I was not able to drum up my usual excitement for Shark Week – not even for the episodes that featured footage of actual shark attacks and gruesome photos of semi-masticated limbs. Such a lack of interest on my behalf was odd, and perturbed me to no end. Had I suddenly gone soft? Had the video feed of that recent fatal attack on that pretty young girl in Brazil robbed me of my lifelong ghoulish fascination with man-eaters (“No, no. They’re not maneaters. They are simply eating people by mistake because people look like injured seals when they’re flapping around on the surface of the water… injured seals wearing Neoprene diving suits and flippers, of course. But injured seals just the same.“)

And then it occurred to me. The reason I had a sudden lack of interest in Shark Week is because, different from last year, this year I know someone who was actually attacked by a shark. Trust me, bearing witness to anything so vicious changes a person from the inside out.

If you saw my husband, you’d never know he had been bitten by a shark.

In the middle of our livingroom.

It was Thanksgiving Day 2012. We were up early that morning, preparing to take our annual jaunt over to Central Park West with my parents to watch the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live. A family tradition. But my husband, a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, was a bit cranky that morning. As it was, our Thanksgiving Day plans meant he would be missing part of the game, and no matter how much I tried to explain that he’d simply have to sacrifice the game in order to honor the holiday properly with a real sit-down dinner (“Did the Native Americans and the Pilgrims watch TV during Thanksgiving??? Noooooooo.“) Tommy could not be consoled. HIs life was over, he declared. There was no reason to live anymore.

Yes, my forty-three year old husband stomped around our diminutive Manhattan apartment throwing what I can only describe as a child-like tantrum. Apparently, it wasn’t enough that we were taping the game and he could watch it later. And no, it wasn’t enough that in other years, his beloved wife had released him from Thanksgiving Day duty entirely so he could fly off to Dallas to watch, in person, the Thanksgiving Day game in Cowboys Stadium. None of that mattered. He had been betrayed, and I was going to pay the consequences by being forced to watch this grown man mope all day when we were supposed to be paying homage to our original settlers. Settlers who battled Small Pox, starvation, and, most likely, a lack of cable television.

“Grow up!” I shouted at Tommy as his tantrum grew exponentially and he threatened to protest this travesty of justice by not attending the parade with me.

More stomping, some cursing and a few tossed objects in the air followed in suit. And just when I was about to call one of those 1-800-WE-SUE-U numbers to hire a cheap divorce attorney, it happened.

Tommy, who is very tall, and happens to have a rather large head, made the mistake of relocating his tantrum from the center of our living room to the perimeter of our living room where, dangling from a heavy duty hook and line of extra-strength fishing line, hangs a very large, very wide set of very real jaws from the mouth of a once very alive, now very dead, very big Bull Shark.  The jaws were a gift from Tommy a few years ago, and while we both acknowledged that hanging them from our ceiling might, one day, result in the untimely death of someone, we just assumed that someone would be a house guest, not one of us.

So, there went Tommy’s giant head, crashing into the giant jaws of the Bull Shark. Hard. The silence was deafening as my injured husband stumbled back, clutching his forehead momentarily, and then releasing his grip to reveal a substantial amount of blood dripping from a substantially sized cut in his otherwise perfect forehead.

“ARE YOU OKAY?” I squealed, my voice registering somewhere between a concerned squeak and a stifled laugh.

No, Tommy was not okay. He had been bitten by a Bull Shark.

Out of what had to be hundreds of very large, very sharp teeth in that set of Bull shark jaws, one of them had managed to do enough damage that, for a moment, we thought Tommy might need stitches. But oh, how to explain to the already overwhelmed medical staff at the New York Hospital Emergency Room that we were there because my husband had been bitten by a shark… in our living room? We couldn’t take the risk of being tossed out, or tossed into the lunatic wing at Bellevue. Instead, Tommy did what a manly man does when attacked by a shark in his living room. He went out to CVS and purchased about five hundred totally unnecessary First Aid products and proceeded to whimper and moan all day about how much pain he was in.  Yes, according to my husband, the sufferings of the Native American community over the centuries pales in comparison to the pain he sustained on the day of that brutal indoors shark attack on Thanksgiving Day 2012.

As for me, I had to make that embarrassing call to my folks explaining that we’d have to watch the Macy’s Day parade on television because, well, “Tommy was bitten by a shark…” And that Mom would have to make sure to have bandages and disinfectant and a shrink on hand during  dinner just in case the millimeter- sized bite mark on Tommy’s forehead began oozing  weird pus – or he started experiencing a bout of fin-related PTSD.

So, yeah, I guess Shark Week drums up a bit of a bad memory for me now. And I can’t quite get as giddy about someone getting attacked by a shark as I used to because I know too well how quickly those monsters of the deep can snuff out a life (or an eyebrow)… in one’s own living room.  

Did I remove the Bull Shark jaws from our ceiling?  Hell, no!  If after what happened, the putz can’t learn to duck when he walks through that part of our living room, frankly, he deserves to get bitten again.  Did I remove the six-foot Great White Shark replica that hangs over our bed?  Hell, no!  As far as I’m concerned, we all have to die sometime.  If that Great White Shark falls onto our bed and takes us out in the middle of the night, so be it.  Quint went out like a man, and so shall we.

Oh, and before you feel all sorry for my husband, know this:  Tommy ended up getting his way.  He was allowed to watch the whole friggin’ Dallas Cowboys game during dinner that Thanksgiving.  Guess Mom and Dad felt sorry for him almost dying and all.

“Take Your Lunch Or I Will Gut You Like A Fish” -by Alison Grambs

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They say the secret to a happy marriage is communication.

Well, tonight I am communicating with my husband.

I am doing so through a note I have left taped to the mirror on the medicine chest in our bathroom. It reads,

Take your lunch or I will gut you like a fish.

Now, you “oh, isn’t marriage so wonderful” saps out there might assume that this note I’ve left for my husband is some NSA surveillance-proof marital code for, “Meet me tonight in our bedroom – I’ll be dressed in cellophane dipped in honey.”

But you would be wrong.

For when I wrote, “Take your lunch or I will gut you like a fish” I meant exactly that…

“Take your lunch or I will gut you like a fish.”

My only regret is not placing a comma in between the words lunch and or. Such a stupefyingly sloppy grammatical error just proves that my high-brow English Literature degree has done even less for my intellect than I originally suspected. Otherwise? My note reads pretty much exactly the way I intended it to. I have no intention of doing a second draft… or running it through Spell-check. Yes. That is how very committed I am to the message I’ve inscribed on that piece of notepad paper I stole from TD Bank.

Why, you might ask, would I leave such a note taped to the bathroom mirror to greet my sweet husband as he rises from slumber to begin a new day?

Because my husband is a putz.

Not all of the time, of course. But in the forty-eight minutes he spends getting ready for work each morning – forty-eight minutes in which he has no responsibilities other than those of getting himself clean, getting himself dressed, and getting himself out the door – this strange phenomenon seems to occur wherein this otherwise brilliant man demonstrates the mental capacity of a turnip.

You see, we’re trying to be, not only more budget conscious lately, but also more health conscious. And among the many new commitments we have made to improve chances of getting into Heaven is the pledge to eat more home-cooked meals.

Do you want me to make you lunch for tomorrow?” I ask each night before Tommy slips off to bed.  “Or are you going to get something on your own?

His reply is always the same. “I love your lunches.  Make me something and I’ll take it.”

So, around midnight every night, while Tommy slumbers away in our canopy bed with the six foot Great White shark on it, I momentarily cease my work writing the next Mediocre American Novel to prepare a delicious, well-balanced ‘brown bag’ lunch for the love of my life.  A lunch that is so thoughtfully engineered to meet my husband’s picky eating habits, while also remaining highly transportable in – now wait for it – an R2-D2 lunch container that lights up and bleeps when you press on R2’s dome.   Yes, I work hard on these lunches, folks, coming up with new and creative combinations of the five (or is it four?) major food groups, and making sure that at least one item in every lunch is dipped in glazed sugar or bacon.  

In short, I prepare Tommy’s lunches with love.  And sometimes, since we’re on the subject, despite partial blindness and overwhelming fatigue.   For it is usually around midnight that I have already been writing for four hours straight, and my contact lenses are beginning to fail me, sticking to my eyeballs in a way that sends me banging around the kitchen like a crystal meth addict who just used up her last  stash.

How does my husband repay me for my efforts?

By consistently forgetting to take his friggin’ brown bag lunch.

“Are you cheating on my lunches with Wok ‘n Roll?” I ask.

“It’s not you, it’s me,” my husband assures me.  Then he explains how he just gets ‘confused’ in the morning and sometimes ‘can’t find’ the kitchen.

But you had no trouble finding the computer to go on e-Bay and purchase a replica of Princess Leia’s metal bikini” I point out rather pointedly.

It is usually at this point that my husband feigns a heart attack so he can escape into the other room and avoid further interrogation.  

But tonight?   Well, that allll stops.  

Dear husband, I am fixing your ‘I get confused and lost in our 850 sq. foot apartment‘ mental condition once and for all.  You see that love note I have left for you on our bathroom mirror?  The one that, in no uncertain terms, states that I will eviscerate your Star Wars and bacon lovin’ body if you fail me on this matter?  

Consider it a simple, somewhat violent reminder to take that delicious homemade beef and scallion stir fry I stopped writing the Mediocre American Novel to prepare for your lunch today or… oh, yes… oh, yes indeed… 

I will gut you like a fish.