A Man For All Seasons

patio-furniture-setsIt does not escape my attention that I may occasionally say things about Jim that are perhaps less than positive, if not so much here on this blog, then certainly in real life. It probably does not escape his attention either. Which is why today, I am going to write something very nice about him, namely, that he would be really, really good in an apocalypse.  Because he would.  I am not even making this up.

I mean, sure, he likes his nightly shower and morning cup of coffee as much as the next person. He might miss his K-Cups for a while, but give him a way to boil water and he’d be all set. He’d be fine; he really would. I, on the other hand, would not.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. The truth is, I would not only not be fine, I’d be terrible. Worse than terrible. I’d be useless, a burden which our marriage vows would force him to drag along behind him. Like a gangrenous leg.

Incidentally, I used to think that no one could survive an apocalypse; I thought that was kind of part of the definition, but young adult fiction has shown me otherwise. So, say there’s an apocalypse, and we survive. Jim would say, “Let’s go, no time to waste! We need to find shelter and a source of water!”

Several yards away, I would be saying, “Children, please stop your whining for FIVE SECONDS and help Mommy find her sparkly owl earrings. This is an awful lot of rubble, isn’t it?”

Jim would be in the woods, crossbow slung across his back, gutting a deer and preparing the hide for tanning while I was out looting ULTA, making sure I’d never run out of key cosmetic items.

Jim would forage for plants and berries that were safe to eat; I would undoubtedly make mojitos with muddled poison oak.

Jim would teach our kids all sorts of useful survival skills. I would use up all the juice of our solar-powered emergency radio charging my Kindle. And my e-cig. And my cell phone, because even though there’d be no cell towers and no internet, I am sure that somehow there would still be Facebook.

I guess the good thing about an apocalypse is the availability of things, if you think about it. At least for a while. I mean, assuming there weren’t too many survivors, I could probably get all the propane I ever needed for our little gas fire pit, which is good, because God knows our kids like s’mores. The library books would be free for the taking, which I realize they already are, but, no overdue fines. That’s nice. Plus, no more lines at the grocery store. Or the DMV, or really anywhere, I guess. You just go and get what you need and be on your way.

I think what I’d like to do most, in an apocalypse, is set up camp in a Target. It’d be good if it happened in summer, because their patio furniture section always has a nice selection of seating arrangements for any occasion. Plus, they have lots of other stuff you might need, like sleeping bags and screwdrivers and Lego sets. They have tons of non-perishable food, bicycles for the kids (also helmets, which are of course required by law; just because we’ve survived the world’s end doesn’t mean we should turn into a bunch of lawless hooligans). They have books, arts and crafts, even birthday party decorations. Face it, we’re going to need stuff like that to keep our spirits up. Plus, our Target happens to be pretty near to our ULTA. Double bonus for me. Less so for Jim.

I think hands down the worst thing about an apocalypse would be the lack of electricity. I mean, aside from all the death and destruction, of course. OF COURSE that is really the worst thing, but let’s be real for a minute. Death is a part of life. Power outages, though – well, in this day and age, I just feel they should be totally avoidable, global cataclysm or not. I get kind of clammy and nauseated when I think of all we’d have to do without: soft lighting and laundry facilities, television and toasters. All our blowup snowman and Santa Claus decorations. Word processing programs. Microwaves. Perhaps most horrifying of all, hair dryers.

I am sure Jim could rig up something using daisy-chained car batteries and a diesel something-or-other, and he would do that for me, I know he would. He would roll his eyes and complain a lot because believe me, there is nothing Jim likes better than a good cause for complaint. And I would allow him to complain about it because quite frankly, that is just how we roll. Jim complaining, me beating him over the head with my relentless insistence on optimism. “Look on the bright side,” I will tell him, when the devastation goes down. “The ozone layer may have burned up in a fiery inferno (as opposed to a watery inferno? I don’t know), but, all the free sunscreen you could want is right there in aisle A47!”

And Jim will say, “Please stop talking and just go measure the kids for their groundhog-fur ponchos.” And I will do that, and I guess that is why we’re still together. Because though he would know that my demands for hair drying capabilities were ridiculous, he’d humor me anyway, even, I believe, in an apocalypse. Because he would let me choose whichever pillows I wanted for our Target patio furniture. And I would let him dress our kids in groundhogs.

And if you ask me, that is what true love is all about.

Surely This Is Not What God Intended.


A typical night in my home:

11:02 p.m.

Jim:      Why are you kicking me?

Me:       You’re snoring.

Jim:      I’m not snoring!  My eyes are wide open, I’m watching TV!

Three minutes later:

Jim:      WHY ARE YOU KICKING ME?  And why did you turn the TV down?

Me:       Because you’re still snoring.  And I can’t sleep with the TV that loud.

Four minutes after that:

Jim:      Stop fucking kicking me!

Me:       Then stop fucking snoring!

Clearly, there may be some unnecessary and also absolutely unwarranted anger, in this situation.  For Jim, because he believes he’s being viciously beaten for no reason, and for me, because he WILL NOT STOP SNORING.

If you sleep with a snorer, you know how amazingly angry you can get at a person for, well, breathing.  I know the snorers can’t help it; I know this is not Jim’s fault.  I certainly know he’s not doing it on purpose.  None of which makes any difference in the middle of the night.  I lie there, calculating the logistics of my life without him.  I could pay someone to cut the grass!  I think.  With his life insurance money, I could even fix some of the things that have been let go all these years!  How am I married to a painter and STILL ALL THE DOORS IN OUR HOUSE REMAIN UNPAINTED?

To be fair, Jim says I snore, too.  And thus, every night becomes an anxiety-ridden race to be the first to fall asleep.

Which is no way to run a marriage.

During waking hours, I almost always love my husband.  He is a good person, he always lets people go in traffic, he desperately tries to have “family meals” which I consistently ruin with my “frozen microwave bullshit” and “reading at the table.”  When his snoring kept me awake during one of my pregnancies, he even went so far as to have a piece of his jaw bone cut out and yanked forward, thereby relocating the tongue to a less airway-obstructive position.  Unlike me, he wasn’t worried about his sleep apnea.  He only did this for me.  And it worked, at least for a few years.

These are the things I should remember as I lie awake in bed, but sleep deprivation is no joke, and I am no saint.  The more I think about this, the clearer the solution becomes, and that solution is that NO TWO GROWN HUMAN BEINGS SHOULD SHARE A BEDROOM IF THEY CAN POSSIBLY HELP IT.  At least, not for actual sleeping purposes.  It just doesn’t even make sense.

We have down comforters now, and forced-air heat.  We don’t typically have to worry about a herd of buffalo invading the bedroom.  We aren’t romantic while we sleep; we are actually anything but.

Some might say this is a sign of a bad marriage, the first step toward separation.  I say, no it’s not.  If I had my own room, we could kiss each other good night and then go to sleep, neither of us spending even one moment of the night wanting to murder the other.  We could have conjugal visits.  It might even be like dating again, but with a shared mortgage payment.

Sadly, I don’t currently have the luxury of having my own room, but a person can dream.

I mean, you know.  If that person can sleep.