I should explain myself for those of you who may have missed the column I wrote a few weeks ago about my plan to help make Yvonne’s life a little easier by organizing the kitchen cabinets for her, plus a few other ideas I had, like preparing meal menus and going grocery shopping with her to help compare prices.
As my former coworkers can tell you, when faced with a challenge I’m not one to give up easily. So despite your many phone calls and email warnings, at 2 a.m. last Saturday night I slipped out of bed and snuck into the kitchen to organize the kitchen cabinets; still certain that, if I could manage to get the job done without Yvonne knowing it, she would be pleased and appreciate my efforts. I quickly completed my virtuous task, and with a bit of prideful satisfaction quietly slipped back into bed unnoticed.
On Sunday morning I was enjoying a cup of coffee as I relaxed in the man cave (i.e., my 40” TV hideaway that now doubles as my retirement office). Sunday mornings is when I usually write my column, and I was about three paragraphs into a backpack adventure about an encounter with a grizzly bear when I heard Yvonne sleepily shuffle into the kitchen. I hit mute on the remote, and paused from my writing to listen for the happy reaction I was sure I would hear when she opened the cabinet doors and discovered how neatly I had organized everything for her.
Yvonne’s morning routine is predictable. I listened as she reached for a cup, turned on the faucet to fill it with water, slipped the cup in the microwave, and keyed in two minutes on the timer. When the microwave began to hum I knew she was about to open the cabinet door and reach for the sweetener and a tea bag.
Suddenly the house grew mysteriously quiet, like that eerie calm you can feel in the atmosphere just before a tornado strikes, and makes the hair stand up on your arms and on the back of your neck. The stillness was brief but deafening. I began to hear a ringing noise in my ears and a countdown clock started ticking off the seconds in my brain, “seven, six, five, four…” My breathing grew shallow, and I could feel my heart pounding in unison with the countdown, “thee, two…one!”
Like the ferocious growl of that grizzly bear I had started to write about, Yvonne let out a roar that rumbled through the house and into the man cave, hitting me like the shockwaves of an atomic bomb. Her normally soft words boomed like thunder, “What in the h— have you done? Where are my tea bags? Get in here!”
I scrambled from my seat nearly stumbling over the footstool as I hurried to the kitchen, calling to Yvonne as I went, “Honey, I rearranged the cabinets for you; the tea bags are on the right.”
At the same time I was thinking to myself, “Of course the sweetener and tea bags would both be on the right, toward the end of the alphabet.” “See,” I said as I opened the right cabinet door, “they’re right here.”
The cupboard door slammed shut, just missing my fingers as I quickly pulled my hand away. Yvonne didn’t say a word. She didn’t have to – she just gave me “the look.”
It was a long look and I fought hard to maintain eye contact. Slowly Yvonne’s head turned toward the window, and my gaze followed hers. We were both staring at the travel trailer.
Well, like I said, retirement is going pretty well so far. I’m staying busy organizing the cabinets in the travel trailer and keeping it tidy; waiting for the storm to pass and hoping I can move back in the house in a couple of weeks.
Postscript: After reading this Yvonne asked, “You don’t think your readers really believe the stuff you write, do you?” “Yeah,” I said. “I’m pretty sure they do.”
George Brown is a freelance writer and lives in a travel trailer in Jackson Township.