The Carpenter is an avid reader of the Advertiser – partly because he likes to read newspapers, and partly because he wants to know what I’ve said about him.
It’s one of the great pleasures in my life to make the Carpenter nervous. It keeps him on his guard and keeps me on my game.
In fact, this may be the secret to our 25 year relationship: we have perfected our clearly defined roles of “annoy and ignore.” It’s like intellectual sparring. Nobody keeps score (but I’m totally winning and he totally isn’t). It works for us. Every day I say or do ridiculous things intent on getting a reaction and he responds with his typical aloof candour, which then inspires me to document our exchange here in this section of the newspaper. Harmony has its price.
Because we know each other so well, I know there is nothing the Carpenter dislikes more than being interrupted while reading the newspaper. A simple “whatcha readin’?” agitates him. It’s the same when he is focused on television. His jaw gets tense if I interrupt him watching a show about zombies, Columbian drug lords or Seattle Seahawks football games. Golf? Don’t even. The man is incommunicado. Also, it has been repeatedly suggested that I not speak to him through the closed bathroom door, particularly when he is on the bathroom side of it. Apparently that is a boundary issue. Is it my fault the can opener is never where I last saw it? No. It’s not. But hey, don’t get up. I’ll find it. Sheesh. Sorry for asking.
My cheeky behaviour never intentionally crosses his line of absolute frustration (but it does hover on the edge). In turn, the Carpenter is capable of ignoring me with such fortitude that I start to doubt that I am actually even in the room. He renders me invisible. Well, this Casper is not a friendly ghost when it wants attention.
Of course, sometimes I am aware that he isn’t ignoring me at all, he just cannot hear me. This is due to the 50 candles we didn’t put on his birthday cake for fear of smoke inhalation. Plus, he works construction, so unless I make the beep-beep back-up sounds of heavy equipment or yell at him over a radio, he doesn’t hear me.
I’m no audiologist, but I’m pretty sure the man needs hearing aids to go with those glasses he is also in deep denial about. He squints more than Clint Eastwood in a dusty Western. I, however, hear everything (like everything) and wear glasses as required. Plus I have a sixth sense about all of his childish attempts to make faces behind my back. It’s cute that he tries to mess with me. Really, it is.
Last week’s headline Possible cougar sightings cause concern is no laughing matter, unless you are trying super hard to distract your spouse, who is trying equally hard to ignore you while he reads the newspaper.
“Cougar sightings in Belwood?” I read aloud over his shoulder.
“I wonder if that means there are billboards up around town with pictures of my face on it. Ba-dum-dum.”
He looked up at me, shook his head in what can only be described as muted exasperation, then looked down once more at the newspaper. And that is what happily married looks like.