The anticipation of absence makes the heart grow fonder

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I don’t care what anyone says, 28 years of marriage is a long time in the dentist’s chair, and if you think things are still as fresh as they were 27.5 years ago, you are in the advanced stages of senility. We used to have a deal where Mrs. WM would put up with me for nine months and I with her, and then during the summer she would waltz back to Japan with the kids.

It was great for her. Going home meant someone else cooking, someone else cleaning, and someone else minding the Small Ones Who Choose Never To Mind. It also meant speaking her real language, and of course PARTEEEEEEEEEEEE, every single day. How do I know this? Because when we’d speak on the phone it went like this:

Me: How are things going?

Her: Okay.

Me: Just “okay”?

Her: Yes.

Me: I suppose you’re dying to come back already?

Her: Yes, very much. Too bad I have to wait onna twelve more weeks. So sadly.

And you know what? She always came back refreshed, ready for nine more months of drudgery and interminable tales about how Wanker McGee attacked, but I was ready for him and countered, and then Billy Bumfugg followed, and then we were away, but the field pulled us back, and then I went again but this time Wanker followed, then countered, and Smedley Offalnipple touched wheels and BAM! he went down, so Billy bunnyhopped Smedley’s skull, mostly, and then … I need to buy a new frame and some wheels, okay honey?

For me it was equally awesome. Much as I loved my wife, I really loved her when she was gone, and not just gone around the corner for a jug of milk. I’m talking nine thousand miles gone. Gone through a dozen time zones. Gone where toilet lids could stay up, pee could sprinkle on the rim, toothbrush caps could remain unscrewed, new life forms could mutate in the sink, farts could waft blissfully up through the covers, and underwear could be worn over and over and over and no one would ever say squat.

I could wake up, ride my bike all day, come home to a quiet hovel, go to floor for nine hours, and do it all over again.

“But Wanky! You must have been miserable! She’s such a great cook! How did you survive without all that fresh bread?”

How did I survive? Let me tell you about something called Van Camp’s Pork & Beans and Spam and peanut butter and bananas and coffee and beer and eggs and salsa and tortilla chips. If you can’t live like a prince on that for three months, then you aren’t trying.

Did I miss the great home cooking? Of course! Did I miss it enough to want to go back to fartless nights under the covers and sitting down to piss? No way!!!!

Then, somehow, poverty went from being an abstraction to a concrete thing as the children grew, we ran out of hand-me-downs (the boys never liked having to wear their sister’s dresses anyway), and summer schedules became intractable. We ran out of money, we ran out of time, and we ran out of them simultaneously.

So, Mrs. WM stopped taking her refresher trips, which was hard on me, hard on her, and probably hardest of all on her seven or eight ex-high school boyfriends back in Japan. And along with our straitened situation, the spark and sizzle started to go out of our boring and totally predictable marriage. That dull lump of last week’s tasteless meatloaf we called marriage had lost the excitement and flair that it never had.

You can imagine how amazed I was when we both looked at each other and realized that for the first time in ten years her summer wasn’t going to be tied down by kids. The tickets were bought in a flash, and the minute that they cleared the four credit cards we had to cobble together to run the charge, the old meatloaf flared up a little. It was still cold leftovers, but with a little something extra.

Then, as each day passed and the day of departure neared, the cold meatloaf warmed up and the flavor returned. One morning as I stood there scrubbing a thick crust of cold bacon grease off the skillet, I thought of my sweetheart, still in bed and probably not even farting. A golden warmth spread throughout as I anticipated dropping her off at the airport and saying “See ya!” for a full fiscal quarter.

But before I brought her coffee in bed I got on the computer and did a quick cost comparison for a new frame, and maybe some wheels, too. She hadn’t even left, and I missed her already.

END

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