Kate has a certain habit that sometimes is endearing and others, a pain in my arse, and I’m sure most married fellas have logged similar experiences.
Some nights, before my buns even get a chance to warm my favorite chair, she’ll say, “Notice anything different?”
I immediately sweat bullets, wrecking any chance of getting two days out of my shirt, scouring the house for something different. After all, my job pivots on a reporter’s powers of observation, and I should be able to bring the talent to bear at home, no?
Sometimes, the change is obvious, such as when she moves my chair and I don’t notice until I crash to the floor. Other times, the switch-up is so infinitesimal I wouldn’t notice it in a bazillion years.
She has a high time mocking me when she confounds me, so you can imagine that I try to turn the tables on her whenever I can, which is rare indeed.
However, I accomplished the feat in fine fashion a couple of Saturdays ago. I had patched a hole in the hall wall where I had removed a smoke detector that was a major irritant. The problem was that, when people took a shower (separately, of course) in the bathroom across the hall and didn’t use the fan, the alarm went off when they opened the door.
That, in turn, started the dogs barking, which drove us nuts, so it was clear the detector had to go. (Don’t worry — I put another smoke detector, with the added bonus of a carbon dioxide detecting ability, in the basement hall.)
While I was making holes in walls, Kate suggested that I remove the old landline phone jack in the kitchen, so I did. Of course, that left another hole to patch, but not to worry. I’m not the type of husband who says he’s going to do something and then has to be asked every six months when he’s going to do it, like wimmen like to say, and cackle over, at coffee klatches.
I started the task in less than two months — 2½, tops — and I had the holes patched and spackled, just waiting to be sanded and painted, in no time. Not one to procrastinate, I sanded the areas within a month and was ready to paint within a couple of weeks, because we had company coming over.
The afternoon of the day our guests were to come for dinner, Kate “suggested” that I paint the repairs.
I found the paint can with the lid marked K/bathroom, which puzzled me, because I didn’t recall that the kitchen and the bathroom were the same color. I held the can up to the kitchen wall for comparison, and the hue looked close enough, so I started painting.
I realized at the first daub of paint that the kitchen and the bathroom are not the same color, but I was in a hurry. Besides, the area is kinda-sorta below a cabinet, so Kate might not notice and, if she did, it would be hilarious.
An important factoid to know: Kate was right there, in the room where it happened.
So you can imagine my surprise when Little Miss Didja-Notice-What-I-Changed didn’t perceive the peculiarity of the pigments. So I left it, just for the heckuvit.
None of our guests noticed it (well, at least, nobody mentioned it, although they could have been elbowing each other and exchanging knowing glances).
I thought sure Kate would be more observant when she wasn’t prepping for company and watching me clean up, but not so.
Day 2 passed, with no outcry.
Day 3, no reaction.
Day 4, crickets.
Day 5, quieter than a snowfall.
Day 6, not a discouraging word.
Day 7, not a whisper.
Day 8 — finally, as I was leaving the house on an errand, I heard a bellowing from upstairs, “It’s not the same color!!!”
Instead of standing there, sweating like a hooker in church, I skedaddled out of there like a rabbit under a fence.
Upon my return, Kate spun into a repetitive cycle of questions such as “How could you?” and “You didn’t notice?” “You kept painting after you realized it?” etc., like a Chatty Cathy whose string broke.
But at least I got in the last word: “Out of all the times you’ve asked me if I noticed anything, and it took you more than a WEEK?” Then I ducked and ran.
I figured out the original source of my confusion. I had misinterpreted my notation on the lid of the paint can, K-bathroom, as kitchen-bathroom, when actually, it meant Kate’s bathroom. DOH!
Unfortunately, the attention allowed Kate to point out that I hadn’t smoothed the holes very well. I hate to admit that she was right, but she was correct.
You know how, when you patch a wall, and it looks smooth until you paint it? Well, my patch jobs looked like 45’s hair after a shampoo — if you can envision that. Up and down, and wrinkles and cracks…
I wreaked all of that havoc under Kate’s observant eye — even though she was there in the room where it happened.
Even though, she had a chance to see, as recorded in “Hamilton:” how the game is played,
“The art of the trade,
“How the sausage gets made.”
Speaking of how the sausage gets made, Kate tells me sooooo often how sooooooo many people offer their sympathies to her because I feature her in the column so often. Some have the gall to say it’s tantamount to spousal abuse.
Well, I’ll let her have her say, some day. I mean — knowing that it’s not advisable to use the “let” word about your spouse — I’ll revise that to she’ll get her say some day. (And, quite likely, I’ll get my comeuppance.)
Merry Christmas to all who prefer that way, and Happy Holidays to everyone else.
Mike Tighe can be reached at email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>, or follow him on Twitter at @necktye.