When, and how, to say “No” to your wife.

She pushed the pocket door on her side of the bathroom open with her foot and the room started to smell as exotic as her shower always did. “Thursday is our anniversary,” wafted out with the fragrant girl smells.

“I know.” She was cute in her wrapped around, covers everything just barely towel and big hot-roller curlers.

“I know you know. Our daughter told me you texted her about it. We can’t do anything, though, because we’re still helping them out with the kids. I thought I’d pick up a cake, or make something. Or we can wait until the weekend.”

Please, God, don’t bake. “I can pick something up and –”

“I said I’ll do it. Do you know how long?”

I’d wait until the mascara was whipped on, the only real makeup she wore besides lipstick, just to tug on her patience threshold.

“How long what? To get the cake or until we’re off grandkid duty or –”

“How long we’ve been married, maybe?” She was doing that corner of the eye in the mirror thing that gave her eyes in the back of her head.

“Thirty-seven. This year for sure. I used a calculator. And then all my fingers and toes almost twice to be sure.”

“That’s what you said last year when it was thirty-seven years.”

“Last year fifteen minus nine was seven.”

“For you, Mister Man. Ow!” She pulled and palmed one of the hot curlers. “These things are hot.”

I started to say something about that’s why they’re called hot curlers, knew better.

“Thirty-seven years,” she said. “We’re old married people. Boy, that’s a long time, huh?”

“No, it seems like yesterday and I’d do it all again because you were so cute in that purple robe I couldn’t stand it. And you let me bring my waterbed.”

“That thing,” she made a face and banged a drawer closed with her hip. “Last year, did it really feel like thirty-seven years?”

“That’s two trick questions on one cup of coffee.”


I let that one hang like the last drop of honey in one of those little plastic bears she uses for tea and to keep a sticky spot going on the kitchen counter.


She checked his grin with the sideways mirror eyes. “You. Don’t be funny. I need some privacy, please. I need to get dressed.” The door closed with the same foot that had opened it. She raised her voice a touch. “You don’t have to get me anything, as long as you remembered when and how long.”

“Right. No card or wine or even a token gift is how I made it this long.”

“What? I couldn’t hear you, the door’s closed. Are you still in here?”

“Leaving. Just talking to the dogs.”

I may be old and math challenged but I’ve been married thirty-seven really-I-checked-this-time years. And I’m not stupid.



Published by

Phil Huston


5 thoughts on “37”

  1. The imagery of the room smelling sweet from someone’s shower was nice. The iron weight thing was stretching it, though, if you’ll excuse the pun.

    “I let it hang like the last drip of maple syrup in the bottle over her favorite Sunday waffles.”


  2. Okay, so the weight and rubber band went…but it was one of those images I couldn’t shake for some reason. Honey bears. Good as waffles?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s two different meanings, in my mind. The last drip of syrup onto waffles is delicious anticipation. A sticky spot on the counter is something you get stuck on, wipe some water on your cuff knowing it won’t help, knowing tomorrow you’ll lean on the counter in the same place and face the same problem, but you endure it because it’s not that big a deal and certainly not worth a fight.
    Definitely not the same as waiting to dig into waffles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sticky like does 36 feel like 37? Just like that spot on the counter. After a while someone’s trademarks become analogies of them. Character smiles co-existing in a shared environment that remind you there’s a whole other person in the house, not just a wife or a mom or a professor. The trail of purse, shoes, books, student papers, and hanging ballet tights. The dance bag that is more important than a passenger in the car. Anticipation, on the other hand is duly reserved for waffles. And other mischief.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.