Today, while working in my home office, I heard the sweetest sound of my life. It was my wife, howling from the kitchen.
“Where's my goddamn brownie!?” she shouted. “I will slice your gizzard into bite-sized meat snacks if I find out you touched my brownie!”
I knew, right then, everything was going to be OK.
Allow me to explain:
My wife and I dodged a large bullet recently. It's a delicate subject, so let's just say we had an accident. And by “accident” I mean I forgot to put on a condom. And by “forgot” I mean that I was too drunk to realize I hadn't.
It happened after a night on the town with some friends. It was one of those gatherings, you know, where everyone has a drunken blast, and nobody much remembers how the evening ended. The last thing I remember clearly is a big fat round of Stumblemintz shots. After that, it's just fuzzy memory clips of: a game of pool, another round of shots, closing out my tab, a late-night visit to Fatburger, a skirmish on the sidewalk with some dickheads that had to be broken up by the police, a cab ride home with W. and finally some drunken shenanigans upon the connubial mattress.
Actually, that last part I remember well. I may have woken up that morning with the hairball of the dog clumped in my mouth, but the memory of that part of the evening turned out to be a great memory. And it was a sexy memory.
It was a great and sexy memory to remember until, to my horror, I remembered not wearing condom. Or, at least, I didn't remember remembering to wear one.
Holy crap, I thought and rolled over to W., who was just now spitting out the first strands of dog hair onto her pillow.
“Honey?” I said, softly, calmly, so as not to alarm her.
“Did we use a condom last night?”
“Babe?” I prodded again.
“I don't know—didn't you put one on?”
I looked at my jimmy to see if maybe, hopefully, the jimmy-cap was still affixed. It was not. I looked at the floor to find a wrapper. There was none.
Oh God, oh God, oh God.
Visions bouncing in my head then: awful, gory visions of pregnancy and childbirth; visions of puke on my shoulder and diarrhea between my fingers; visions of never going anywhere or ever having fun again; visions of mind-blisteringly boring conversations about the latest diaper technologies with other shell-shocked parents at their babies' birthday parties; visions of baby talk, butt rash and bankruptcy; of G-rated movies and X-rated odors; of snot noses and eye boogers; of long, brutal lines to see Santa, Mickey or Shamu; of sitting in the audience of the Country Bear Jamboree without a drop of whiskey or sniper rifle in reach. Oh yes, I had visions my friends, and judging by the panic that was dripping from her petrified face, I knew W. was having them, too.
And so, together, we counted the days to that special time of the month we in this family lovingly refer to as the Crimson Twister.
This is an absolute first. We have never before desired the arrival of the twister. We have always feared and loathed it. And not like the way normal couples fear and loathe that time of the month, but with an entirely magnified sense of contempt and dread. Because this is no ordinary menstrual cycle. It is a menstrual cyclone. And there is no basement or bomb shelter to prevent it from lifting you up, spinning you violently amid the plasmin, prostaglandins and endometrial matter and dropping you on top of a barnhouse in Kansas somewhere skewered to a weathervane.
Even the most mole-hillest of incidents will set her off. Like this one time, while watching TV, she started yelling at me from the kitchen.
“You moved my goddamn cupcakes!”
“I had a box of chocolate cupcakes on the top goddamned shelf of the pantry and you moved it to the bottom goddamned shelf!” she said as the floor began to rumble, glasses toppled and shelves fell off their brackets.
“Will the cupcakes be all right?” a more unenlightened person might've responded. But not me. I knew better. I just slipped out the door and scurried to the Tilted Stick, where I remained for three days, drinking.
It's not her fault, of course. The affliction is called dysmenorrhea, and in more than 30 years of serial monogamy, I've never seen anything like what happens to this poor woman. For three days she basically lives in the fetal position. At night she groans and squirms in pain and doesn't get a wink. Sometimes she has to call in sick. There is no amount of drugs that can make it go away. No Midol, no Vicodin nor arsenic can ease my—um—her despair. The poor thing has no choice but to lash out. This much I have come to understand: In the days of the tempest, it is best for everyone involved if I just leave the house.
Suffice to say, it was somewhat unprecedented to find me, on bended knees at the foot of the bed each night, saying a prayer to God to bring the Crimson Twister back to us.
“Dear Lord,” I'd say, “what can I do? What donation shall I give, what pilgrimage shall I make, what sickness would you have me cure, Lord, that would compel you to return to us the Crimson Twister of joy? I beg thee, Lord. Godspeed.”Epilogue: Last Sunday—W. had been watching On Demand movies all day with the shades drawn. I was out running errands. When I came home, we chatted.
“I'm not pregnant,” she said.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Because my period is coming.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I've been crying at movies all day.”
“You cry at movies all the time.”
“Will Farrell movies?!” she snapped. “Plus, my nipples are sore, and I'm eating everything in sight.”
“Isn't that what also happens to pregnant women?” I said.
“Trust me,” she said, “I'm not pregnant. I can feel it.”
It was the very next day, sitting at my typer, when I heard the sweetest sound ever in my life. “Where's my goddamn brownie!?” she shouted from the kitchen.
Smiling, I slipped out the door and scurried to the Tilted Stick.