These words frighten my soul | Pontotoc’s Progress
I always told my wife, Sandra, that I would be her workhorse, and I’ve had the privilege of being for the past 35 years or so. One Saturday a few years ago, I gave her all the proof I could bear…
There are certain phrases that, when spoken by a man’s wife, strike fear into his soul.
Suddenly, all of his bravery certifications — battle decorations, black belt, grandkids taken to Chucky Cheese — mean as little as a sparrow’s tears as his courage melts like a snowflake on a griddle. .
Hearing these words, his head droops and his tail folds up. He desperately wishes, in vain, to be somewhere else. Anywhere else.
He is nothing like a dog who, one day riding happily with his master, suddenly sees the vet’s office.
He realizes, much too late, that he has been tricked; betrayed by the one he considered his best friend in the world.
The fate of the unfortunate husband is sealed, his fate awaits him and before him are the well-worn steps leading to the scaffold. That blood-chilling scraping sound is flint against steel as the executioner sharpens his ax to razor’s edge, then puts his feet down and lifts the instrument of doom.
And there’s no place to run, no place to hide.
The words that scare me, that drive me like a bayonet in the side, are “Lumberjack Breakfast” when spoken by Sandra. As in “I’ll make you a lumberjack breakfast tomorrow morning, honey.”
This sentence means that my wife is going to ask me to do something complex, tedious or exhausting, something that for some reason I really don’t like to do.
My wife and I each consider ourselves our best friend. It’s a privilege that many married couples don’t share, unfortunately. And when a true friend asks you something, the only acceptable answer is yes.
In this case, the lumberjack’s breakfast meant I had been called in to move some furniture. It was the final chapter in Sandra’s master plan to redecorate the house. In previous chapters, I helped her spray and scrape wallpaper – it’s like flint hitting an ax or executioner’s nails on a blackboard – so I can pull it off the wall, preparatory to painting.
Sandra’s redecorating plans meant that for me, moving heavy, bulky furniture in and out of tight spaces, cleaning up trash, and regular trips to the Salvation Army had to become as much a part of my life as regular colonoscopies, but less fun.
I knew that when Sandra retired, she would have more time to hatch such home improvement programs. And it was conclusive evidence when I started seeing copies of Southern Living lying around, finding out the TV had been left on the Home Improvement Channel, hearing his conversations with friends about home improvement.
I knew his plans were going to sweep me away like a seagull pushed by Hurricane Katrina, extremely powerful and that no power on earth can stop.
My lumberjack breakfast that Saturday morning—often called the doomed man’s last meal—was just that: sausage, bacon, eggs, pancakes, gravy, cat’s face biscuits, several types of fruit, coffee.
As long as I eat, I can’t work, can I?
I tried to delay the inevitable as long as possible.
I didn’t eat more than I could lift, but I cut it as close as I could. If you’ve ever had the privilege of eating Sandra’s cooking, you’ll understand.
But in truth, I would have preferred to be a lumberjack to work this breakfast than what awaited me. Cutting down trees is a tough way to make a living. I know because I did.
But, I didn’t have that option, so after breakfast I waddled over to the toolbox and grabbed a tape measure. I measured the hallways, measured the furniture, helped empty the desks, then I limbered up and got moving and started moving furniture from room to room.
Some of this furniture had been assembled in the rooms years ago, with no intention of moving it – how could I have been so thoughtless? I strode out of the rooms’ hefty desks, into cramped, winding hallways, rounding corners inches, praying my centimeter measurements were correct, slipping into new rooms.
It was nothing like sailing a boat you built in a bottle through the neck of the bottle, through the neck of another bottle, and into the second bottle.
All the while, I was praying that I wouldn’t have to take the furniture apart and then put it back together. Because if there’s another phrase I hate, it’s “Some Assembly Required”.
But that’s another column.
Then came the piano, muscled inch by aching inch on the carpet toward its new home, there to stay in its new location forever or at least until next weekend, whichever comes first.
I may have twisted my shoulder, twisted my back, blown three hemorrhoids, and started my first two hernias, but damn it, I made moving this piano easy.
After all, a man has his pride.
Somewhere in Saturday’s adventure there was flashlight work in dark, dusty spaces, disconnecting all the wires from the computer, speakers, printers, monitor. The whole mess was nothing like a basket of snakes or, as I told Sandra, an octopus assaulting a bagpiper.
We labeled all those wires, taped them together for convenience, moved everything to another desk, managed to reconnect everything, and – Glory Hallelujah, we live in the age of miracles – got the computer back up and running. .
I’m proud of the part I played in making this happen, because I’m pretty Amish for computers. For me, taking apart a working computer, transferring its components, and doing open-heart surgery to rewire it and resuscitate it had about the same chance of success as the organ grinder monkey typing War and Peace.
I’ve been in my life’s business of helping every one of my wife’s dreams come true as much as I can. I’m proud that I somehow helped her redecoration goals come to fruition.
I told Sandra for years that I would draw her bath water whenever she wanted. This week, anyway, I just hope she doesn’t ask me to move the tub.