Penalty on the Play

Okay, I’ll admit that my wife does more chores around the house than I do.

But it’s not really my fault. Writing takes a lot of time. Not so much the physical hands-on-the-keyboard-words-appearing-on-the-screen writing part, but the sitting-around-like-a-pile-of-garden-waste-turning-into-compost-idea-formulization writing part, which, oddly enough, often resembles goofing off.

And though my wife is very understanding about my methods of creativity, every now and then I get the impression she thinks I’m not pulling my own weight when she says something like: “I can’t do everything around here” or “you live here too, you know” or “a little help, that’s all I ask, a little help.”

I want to be a better husband, I really do. So this evening I decided on a bold approach designed to make her feel better about things, while not impeding upon my creative process, which currently involves lying on the couch in my underwear, eating taco chips, drinking beer, watching Monday Night Football, and waiting for the muse to toss me yet another award-winning column idea.

My cell phone rang. I looked at the tiny screen. It was my wife calling from Oakland where she was on a three-day business trip. I muted the TV and belched twice to clear my system so I could avoid belching during the conversation (and they say chauvinism is dead). Then I reached over and turned on the vacuum cleaner, which was sitting beside the couch.

“Hi Dear,” I said.

“What’s all that noise, I can barely hear you.”

“Oh sorry. Let me shut off the vacuum cleaner,” I said. I watched Tom Brady complete a perfect pass to Kevin Faulk. “Go New England!” I whispered loudly then hit the off switch.

“You’re vacuuming?” my wife said, a note of disbelief in her voice.

“Yup. Just felt like the place needed it. You know how I get sometimes.”

“Ah, no, not really,” she said.

Sammy Morris broke through the line and ran for a nice gain. Even though I couldn’t hear it, I knew the home crowd was going wild. I hurried into the laundry room and turned on the dryer. My jeans – belt and all – began tumbling around loudly.

“Is that the dryer?” my wife asked.

“Yeah. Thought I’d do a load or two while I was vacuuming. No need to let everything build up around here just because you’re away for a few days.”

“Wow,” she said. “I’m impressed.”

I stopped the machine and took out my jeans. I knew they were dry, seeing as how I hadn’t actually washed them or anything.

The doorbell rang. I opened it, and before the guy standing on my doorstep could say anything, I gave him the international sign of the shush.

“How much?” I mouthed.

“Twelve bucks,” he whispered.

“Who’s that at the door?” my wife asked.

“Some kids collecting for a school trip or something,” I said to my wife. “Here you go, kids,” I said loudly, handing the pizza guy an extra five bucks.

“Thank you kind sir,” he said in his best kid’s voice. “Nice choners,” he whispered.

“Sounds like everything is under control there,” my wife said.

I watched Tom Brady throw a touchdown pass to Randy Moss. “Yup. Things are going great,” I said. “But I probably shouldn’t talk much longer.” I put the pizza box on the coffee table and went to the fridge for another beer. “I’d like to finish my other chores in time to go out and water all three of your gardens. Where do we keep the mulch? Might as well put some of that down while I’m at it.”

I thought I heard my wife snicker. Probably couldn’t contain her happiness a moment longer. I sunk back down onto the couch and shoved an entire piece of pizza into my mouth. Ah, life was good.

That’s when the front door opened. My wife stood there with her cell phone still at her ear. “I caught an earlier flight,” she said.

I hesitated for a minute then swallowed several times and slipped my pants on.

“Going to finish vacuuming?” my wife asked as she picked up a piece of pizza.

“Right,” I said then hung up my phone.

I had a feeling the next couple of days were going to be longer than a Britney Spears halftime show.