One busy weeknight while chewing the last bites of pork chops and boxed macaroni and cheese, I asked my husband, “Did I tell you about my conversation with the sixth grade math teacher today?”
Gnawing a particularly tough piece of meat, my husband shook his head with a familiar glazed look in his eyes. After 18 years of marriage, he knew that I could take a good 20 minutes to describe cleaning the fuzz out of the lint trap, so he settled into his seat and braced himself for excruciating detail and superfluous analysis.
“Well, I called him about the semester project,” I continued, “and do you know what he said?”
“No. What.” my husband robotically replied, staring blankly into space.
I went on, in great detail, to describe a mundane event in my daily life as a stay-at-home Navy wife and mother of three. However, many years of housewivery had taught me that I could give our regular dinner conversations a stimulating dose of drama and suspense if I merely embellished my otherwise ordinary stories with exhaustive descriptions, exaggerated voice intonation, and vivid facial expressions.
I told my husband all about my phone call with the math teacher, but it came off more like a thrilling off-Broadway play. During a particularly expressive point in my story, my husband, tired and irritated after a long day and a mediocre dinner, interjected sardonically, “Oh, please, do that again with the bulgy eyes. That’s really attractive.” Fully intending to add insult to injury, he mocked me by imitating my Marty Feldman-like eyes, while I sat, stone-faced, glaring at him.
Although his deep-set eyeballs could never mimic the natural prominence of mine, my husband nonetheless contorted his face to look as ridiculous as possible. As I watched his discourteous display and doggedly gripped my fork on that weeknight at the dinner table, our entire marriage passed before my genetically protuberant eyes.
What’s happened to us? I wondered. We used to be so lovey dovey, and here we are pelting each other with insults over Shake & Bake. Is our marriage hopeless? Does he think I’ve become unattractive and annoying? Well, I don’t recall anyone dying and making him God’s gift to women. Hrmph.
Bitter, I finally interrupted his facial contortions, “So, who are you over there, Robert Redford or something?” With blatant hypocrisy, my husband took immediate offense to my sarcasm and scowled.
We sat in silence, sucking the macaroni from our teeth and avoiding eye contact.
Unable to remain mute for more than a minute, I spoke weakly without looking up from my plate, “I can’t help that my eyes bulge, you know.”
My husband’s irritation was suddenly replaced with sincere remorse. “Oh, Honey, I’m sorry,” he said, moving in closer and placing his hand on mine. “I don’t think your eyes bulge. I think you’re bulgy in all the right places.”
His awkward flattery softened my ire, and I released the death grip I had on my fork. Glancing up from the remains of my pork chop and into his deep-set eyes, I realized that, even if we get a little mad from time to time, we’ll always be madly in love.