Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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My Wife Has Gone Granola Part II

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I was doing laundry in the garage. I wanted to use a little bleach on my white shirts, but couldn’t find any. We’d just moved, so I assumed that the bleach got placed somewhere unusual. I called for Mel from the door between the garage and the kitchen. She was in the living room. I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her.
I asked Mel where I could find the bleach, and she said, “I don’t buy bleach anymore because it sucks. It’s bad for the environment. And it’s poisonous. And it makes our clothes yellow.”
“But what about my white shirts?” I said.
“Use vinegar. It works just as good.”
“Seriously!” I said. “These are my work shirts. I want to smell like a professional.”
“Don’t you care about our fresh water?”
“Don’t you care about my career? Do you want me to be known as the jackass in the office that smells like vinegar? You know, vinegar smells a lot like B.O.”

Blinky the Three-Eyed Fish

We went back and forth for a while. Mel kept telling me about how bleach ruins our drinking water and kills fish. “Giving up bleach is a small price to pay for fresh drinking water.”
 And I kept telling her that I’m not trying to save the planet, I’m trying to look and smell professional. “Do you even care about how I look at work?”
Our conversation went on for several minutes. She mentioned that I would thank her when I live to be 100 because I avoided interaction with chemicals. And I told her that I don’t want to live to be 100 if it means I have to smell like vinegar.
I ended up using vinegar.

In my backyard there is a pile of rotting garbage. Banana peels, egg shells, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers that we never got around to eating, weeds pulled from the yard, and many other compostable items that only a year ago went in the trash, but now are hauled out to the yard. Mel calls this our compost pile. It is a few feet from Tristan’s bedroom window, and just last week I strongly suspect that a rogue colony of well-fed ants work their way from the compost pile up the side of our house, through the window seal, and into Tristan’s room.
*Note to reader. Mel wants me to write that the ants are in the walls or the crawl space and have nothing to do with the compost pile. (I still don’t believe her.)
 Tristan (our six-year-old son) has a real problem with bugs, so he about shit himself when he saw a little ant party going on along the wall behind his headboard. He refused to go near his bed for some time, and when I brought him closer to the ants he nearly cried. I casually mentioned to Mel that this might have happened because of the compost pile, but she didn’t give my comment much attention.
“Let’s put out some ant traps,” Mel said.
“What? Those don’t work. Why don’t we spray them with some Ortho Home Defense,” I said.
Mel shook her head, her lips drawn to a tight line. Her face seemed to say, Have I taught you nothing.
“I got rid of that stuff,” she said.
And I suppose I should’ve known that there was no way in hell Mel would let me use a chemical like that. Eventually she went into the kitchen, and then came back with a bottle of all natural bug killer. It was made from mint and walnuts and some other organic household crap. I will admit that it got rid of the ants. But I would also like to say that it smelled so strongly that we had to open several windows.

Later that night, Mel was showing me a small bruise on the side of her upper thigh. She’s pregnant, and she was worried that the bruise might be a blood clot. She wanted to get my opinion, but I had a hard time examining the bruise.
“When was the last time you shaved your legs?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “It’s been awhile.”
“How long is awhile?”
She moved her eyes side to side, deep in thought, trying to remember the last time she shaved her legs.
“You can’t remember,” I said. “Can you?”
She sat in silence for a moment more.
“Nope!” she said with a sly grin.
I exhaled. Rolled my eyes.
“Ok. Hold on. I usually shave my lower legs. Just not my thighs. I don’t see what the big deal is,” she said. “The hair is blond. It’s way up where no one can see it. I mean... it’s been a while since I shaved up there, and you just now noticed. Obviously you don’t pay that much attention.”

She had a point. I hadn’t noticed. But at the same time, it seemed like the end of a long list of changes, of signifiers, showing that she was becoming this different person. Someone unfamiliar. 
“What’s your plan, exactly?” I said. “Are you never going to shave your whole leg again? Or is this something to do with it being winter.”
She didn’t say that she planned to start shaving once it warmed up. And she didn’t say that she was never going to shave again. She didn’t say anything. She just shrugged, and I couldn’t tell if she was trying to say she didn’t know, or if she just didn’t care.

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in Huffington Post Parents, Huffington Post Weddings, and The Good Men Project. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.