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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Grumpy, Growly Grizzly Bears

Opposites may initially attract, but the aspect of your darling’s character that giddied your pitter-pattering heart in the blissful early days of courtship may eventually become the thing that makes it dangerous to keep steak knives handy in a chopping block on the kitchen counter.
For example, there are early birds and there are night owls, right? Everybody knows this. Early birds are those
Peregrine Espresso,
Washington, D.C.
(A truly wondrous place.)
annoyingly chipper smiling things who go to coffee shops at six thirty in the morning to, like, meet people, and talk to them, rather than to utilize the establishment for its intended purpose, which is to siphon black plasma into the sullen, walking dead, in order to make them functionally productive members of the work force for another day.
Night owls, by definition, are debauched party people who sleep away the day, then squander their lives in dissipation and vacuous pursuits which take place in the wee hours of the morning. When as a teenager I lobbied for a later curfew, my mother told me, “Nothing good happens after midnight.”
(That’s not entirely true, I discovered a few years later, depending on one’s definition of good. But my mother may read this, so that’s all I’ll say about that.)
I’m one of the annoying morning people. I side with Ben Franklin who famously claimed, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise.” I awaken at sunrise, pleasantly refreshed and ready to welcome the new day like Snow White, with a tranquil comportment and a gracious word for any and all who enter my atmosphere. Bless you.
My husband, who leans to the dark side, likes to remind me that although the early bird gets the worm, it’s the second mouse who gets the cheese. He awakens when he has absolutely no other choice, with an expression in his narrowed eye slits that communicates complete and undiluted acrimony toward the universe, the new day, and any unfortunate creature who happens to stumble into his presence.
And the back end of the day is no different. Over the course of the next twelve hours or so, Hubby and I gradually migrate to the opposite opposite ends of the La-Vie-Est-Belle spectrum. By nightfall I morph into the lovechild of Freddy Krueger and Nurse Ratched, while Hubby becomes Prince Charming with a side of Captain Kangaroo.
You can imagine the depth and length and breadth of our mutual disgust for one another.
The first twelve years of our marriage were spent embattled, one irresistible force grinding and grating and bludgeoning the other immovable object. It’s mystifying, really, how we ever managed to end up with three kids, since our personal happy-hours only overlap for ninety minutes or so every day, between about three o’clock and four thirty, and he’s usually at work then.
Our children, apparently, owe their existence to the weekend.
Husband’s morning demeanor made me question the wisdom of having knitted my life and soul to such a surly, intractable slab of man-flesh. My pre-wedded fantasies of sitting at the breakfast table with my beloved, talking about our dreams, swilling coffee, and doing the crossword together perished like a blown-glass rose tossed under the tracks of a Sherman tank. “Why do you have to be such a jerk every morning?” I would ask. Sweetly.
It was only a fantasy.
By evening, however, the shoe is on the other grumpy, growly Grizzly bear foot. Husband’s expectations of pleasant family time around the dinner table, followed by a long evening of couple-canoodling after the kids are abed, collapsed like the Galloping Gertie bridge in the furious wake of my nightly mutation into Mrs. Hyde. “What is wrong with you?” he would inquire. “It can’t be that time of the month every single day.”
(Men, just a heads-up here. Them’s fightin’ words. No matter how nice you try to sound when you say them.)
Then one night, during our evening repartee, I heard myself tell Hubby, “You know what? The way you feel at seven o’clock in the morning is how I feel at seven o’clock at night!”
And, eyes widening, we both went, “Oh… OH!”
“We should help each other with this.”
Duh, duh-duh, duh, duh, duh-dee-dee-duh, duh, DUH!
We are both reasonably clever and practical people. Why, why, WHY did it take well over a decade of marriage and mutual scarification to stumble upon this simple, sensible, obvious solution to the problem?
I’m delightful in the morning and miserable at night.
He’s jovial at night and deplorable in the morning.
I will say it again: DUH.
So, now I do mornings. Alone.
I get up before everyone else and have my happy, dayspring, God-is-in-his-heaven-and-all-is-right-with-the-world me time, birds a-twittering and sunrise a-glittering. Then I make a yummy and nutritious breakfast for my beloved darlings, adorably presented on plates with the care and artistry of an ikebana arrangement. I dress and take the little cherubs to their buses, then spend the next several hours doing all the myriad things that must be done to keep a household of five running like a well-oiled Formula One car.
Then, as the sun descends, the pall begins to fall. A shadow slides over my soul as surely as the stars peer out from the darkening eastern horizon.
I love this life no longer. My spirit retreats into the shell of its former glory and I close up on myself like a pill bug in the sweaty, sticky palm of a toddler. But the children have come home, with homework and bickering and hunger pangs for dinner but “I don’t like that we had that last week how come you don’t cook the way Jimmy’s mom does— stop touching me Mom she keeps looking at me make her stop MOM!!!”
But I know that I just have to hold it together till HE gets home, my knight in shining armor, my deliverer cresting the hills of Zion on his charging stallion (or in his PZEV Subaru), my Superman “I’m holding out for a hero till the end of the night and he’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight…”
Hubby takes the reins after the sun goes down.
He supervises the baths and ensuing draining of the pool, I mean mopping up of the bathroom floor.
If I ever did a facial peel,
I would look exactly like this person.
He conducts the household re-organization, toy-retrieval, and personal property reunification (“That’s mine!” and “No, it’s mine!”).
He gets them safely and soundly and PJ-cladly into their beds, sometimes even under the covers and in the right direction, so I can slip, smiling, into their rooms at the last minute and give hugs and kisses. With my last few drops of hoarded energy I channel Mary Poppins, rather than manifest Mommy Dearest.

It works. So. Much. Better.
I don’t even drink on school nights anymore. (That’s a joke, people. Churchgoing ladies like me don’t ever admit that we drink.)
So, what else are Hubby and I doing wrong? Where do we waste our time and energy locked in a titanic clash of self-righteous pig-headedness when we could instead cooperate and save the knives for the filet mignon? (If I ever cooked filet mignon.)
And I’m kidding about the knives. We wield nothing but razor-sharp wit and serrated logic when we battle. Hubby doesn’t even curse. Ever. Seriously.
And neither do I. Ahem.
Okay. I’ve got to go. He just got the laundry out of the dryer and he’s doing the towels wrong. Again. What is so hard about folding them into thirds instead of quarters?
Good grief. How many times do we have to go over this…


  1. HA HA Love it!!!

  2. And of course you posted this before 5AM!

    1. Ha ha! I think the blogspot server is in a different time zone from me. It was actually around 8:00 AM when I posted!