Having been up until two in the morning after my work computer contracted the Trojan Vundo virus (I swear it wasn't my fault) I slept in. I was pensive though. Normally when I'm all alone, after the wife and the little lump called Emmett—otherwise known as our son and the thrasher—get up before me I stretch out and have my best dreams. Not on this day. My brain was all whirls, clanks and thunks, working on a game plan. How was I going to break it to my boss?
Best, I thought, to be a man. Just own up to it and get it over with.
So when she walked in to the bedroom, I blurted, "Honey, my computer has a virus."
She stopped and glared at me from the foot of the bed. Lips taut. "A virus." Not a question, an accusation.
"Yeah, a pretty bad one too."
"On your work computer. Because of that software you downloaded?!"
Across my field of vision scrolled a list of responses from which to choose, but none with the impact necessary to divert this conversation from the waterfall toward which it was heading.
I opted for blather.
And as I relayed the circumstances of my terrible tragedy she turned up her nose and went into our bathroom and shut the door behind her.
This called for something drastic, some token of my enduring love. That's when it hit me. The replacement outdoor light! It was sitting in a box, in the garage, where it had been for a month now. I popped out of bed and jumped into my shorts. I had a purpose as I descended, step by gigantic man-step, into the basement for my toolbox, then up again and into the garage and through the side door.
She watched with a wary eye from her flower garden—where she goes to be alone—as I handed her one of the wireless phones and said in my handyman, Johnny-On-The-Spot voice (think Gaston from Beauty and the Beast), "Tell me when the light goes out."
As I headed to the breaker box, I tried the phone, "Can you hear me?"
A brief pause, then, "Yup."
Audible. Monosyllabic, but a start.
When I clicked off the right breaker switch she said, "That's it."
Two syllables. Even better.
"Thanks," I said, but the line was already dead.
She had relocated by the time I got back outside. I prefer to be alone anyway. Less pressure that way, because I tend to blunder through these things, and I prefer to experience these journeys alone and let others see the polished final product.
Just as I was wrapping it up, I stumbled and stepped on her new Azalea bush. It snapped like a dead twig. I picked at the branches and it came completely off, broken at the nub. I saw my life flash before my eyes. She loves that bush, and was so proud when she put it in.
So I did what any good husband would do and carefully put the branches back into the dirt and propped it up like nothing ever happened. It was perfect. She didn't notice a thing as she admired the newly installed light. She was so happy.
And as with all little fights that we have, there came the moment of confession. She told me, "I was a little mad about that virus."
"You did? But how?"
"I'm instinctive that way."
She smiled. "That computer is your livelihood, our livelihood. You can't be taking chances like that."
"I know. But you have to keep in mind that I am a gambler by nature, and a lot of what we have today was gained because of that willingness to take chances. I just made a mistake, one that won't be repeated."
And so the make-up dance went back and forth for a few more rounds, and we were a happy couple again.
But there was still the lingering issue of the Azalea. What to do, what to do? I could go buy a new one, but it would have to be a close facsimile or the jig was up. That was the terminus of the Big Brain Express, so I asked her to take the kids with her to check out the new paint job a friend had just had done in her kitchen.
"Are you high?"
Ok, nix that plan. If I brought the kids with me, the little parakeets would be singing my death tome when she got back. There was nothing more to do about it, as the odds were remote that I could pull it off anyway.
"Uh, honey, I have a bit of a confession to make."
She was intrigued. "And that is?" she said dubiously.
"I stepped on your Azalea. It's broken."
"It looked fine to me," she said.
"That's because I propped it up to make it look ok."
Then she burst out laughing.