Today hadn’t been a great day. It just hadn’t. There were a number of reasons, of course. Work was stressful, but it’s always stressful. I grabbed a Halloween treat from the weekend’s party that I thought was a cookie and put it in my lunch. After taking a giant bite of it and swallowing I realized it was caramel filled with walnuts.
Did I mention that I’m allergic to walnuts?
So I had to use my rescue inhaler a bunch of times. This added to the normal stress of the work day and I had tons of work to finish.
Then I get home . . . and the kids are more uppity than normal. I don’t mean the normal: meeting me at the door and spewing forth the events of their day, minute by minute, line by line, falling from their mouths and hitting me like I’m the rocks at the bottom of a Jamaican waterfall. No . . . this was like I’d given a chihuahua a cup of espresso and then added some chocolate-covered espresso beans as a treat just for good measure. They were dancing uncontrollably . . . in front of each other when they tried to watch a tv show, just so they could get a rise out of each other. I’d push to get chores done and instead of whining I’d get a dissertation. I informed them of how exhausted I was and was asked, again, if I could take them, after the sun was now beneath the horizon, to the park.
So after the kids had made their way upstairs I was happy to have the peace of only my own voice to lull me into a sense of calm.
I started the evening’s routine, the lunches for tomorrow, the cleaning up what the kids seemingly missed of the dishes. Wiping down the counters, and then I realized that I’d left the television on. I wasn’t watching the channel, hell I don’t even know what channel was on, and then I heard this theme song I hadn’t heard since I first got married.
Back, years ago, when I married my late wife, we used to laugh at the seemingly inane things that you have to adjust to in life with another human being. When Andrea first moved in and we both had to get ready for work at the same time we shared a bathroom and a sink. I hadn’t thought about this until the television show from the 1990’s, one that I hadn’t seen since it aired, started flickering on the screen. Sharing that sink, I remember brushing my teeth, bending over, newly dressed, my wife wearing only a towel next to me in the steamy bathroom, and feeling my head doused with something. I reached up, felt the back of my head, and it was covered in spit and toothpaste. I stood up, looked at my wife, who was nervously laughing and we both started laughing out loud. Without her contacts or glasses Andrea hadn’t paid much attention and just hauled off toward the sink without thinking.
Not long after this incident . . . and many others like it . . . we noticed that Paul Riser and Helen Hunt had a television show based on Riser’s married life called Mad About You. In one of the key scenes of the show’s pilot the two shared a tiny bathroom in a New York flat and while brushing his teeth and bending over the sink Helen Hunt spits on his head.
The show, two years ago, could have sent me into a depressed spiral. Tonight, though, it gave me a warm feeling. I remembered, rather than the angry fights or disappointed birthdays or the struggle with illness or weight gain or any of the bad things . . . I remembered those funny, silly, crazy early days. I remembered flooding apartments and playing around in newly bought bed sheets and laughing at Paul Riser as our lives seemed to play out on the television screen in seemingly funnier, better-written dialogue.
It was the boost I needed to finish the night. I got lunches made, the kitchen picked up, backpacks packed, forms signed . . . and then I sat on the couch and saw my Hollywood surrogates act out a misspent birthday on the screen, ending with the two lovingly kissing on a subway bench.
And as I watched the credits roll it was like I could feel Andrea kiss me just one more time . . . and I loved the memory.