Sometimes, the only way to get something done around my house is to ask my husband, the Carpenter, if he would like me to go ahead and start the project without him.
That sounds manipulative, I know. I don’t care. After 30 years, I know how to play the relationship game without anyone getting hurt. It doesn’t always work, but I do enjoy taking my shot.
When the wood delivery truck came last week with our autumn delivery, the Carpenter looked a bit like my dog does when I arrive home from work: excited. Like if my husband had a tail, it would wag at the sound of the wood delivery guy’s truck rolling up the driveway, crunching the gravel with the load of hardwood it’s hauling.
The Carpenter set an area of the driveway, marked off with pylons, for the logs. He’s organized like that. It’s adorable, until you realize it’s really about the fact this wood is for his mistress, the woodstove, and all the time they’ll be getting fired up together.
Yet, three days passed and the woodpile in the driveway didn’t get put away.
So I asked, “Would you like me to stack the wood into the wood pile?”
It was a sincere offer. I was home that day, he was not. I am confident I could stack wood without supervision. How hard could it be?
Maybe I’d turn it into an art project; make a pattern, turning every fourth log sideways to make it interesting. Or stack the skinny logs on one end and the thick ones on the other so the pile goes smallest to biggest. Or maybe I’d just start a whole new pile so the chipmunks could make it a fort; you know, a whole subdivision of caves for the woodland creatures. So many options.
Of course, the Carpenter has a system for his woodpile and any deviation from his plan will result in stress – his, not mine. Very serious stacking.
My offer to help him hung in the air like mist over a farm field on an October morning: damp. I knew he heard me because the lines of his face twisted temporarily as if in anguish, before he caught himself. His eyes darted, left, right, down. His jawline tightened with a quick clench that made that vein in his temple pulse. His knuckles folded over white.
I could read his mind: Did she really just suggest she would organize my wood pile? Is she serious? She’s not serious. What if she is serious? (insert expletive) What if I come home to find the wood mismatched like it’s one of her stupid art projects, or worse, an encampment for chipmunks? She wouldn’t even know how to balance the small logs with the big logs. The whole thing would be a disaster. What does she know about firewood?
He blinked rapidly.
Why is she messing with me? Did I miss her birthday? Our anniversary? No, but I think that’s coming up. I wanna say it’s October 20? 21st? 29th? Something like that.”
Lips tense. I let her join my NFL pool, and she doesn’t even know the quarterbacks. I said nothing. I let her use my leaf blower, unsupervised. Regretting that decision. She isn’t even allowed to start fires. What’s her issue? Control freak.
Day six. The wood remains in the driveway. Bet you can read my mind. It was worth a shot.