Yesterday I was married for twenty-seven years, which is a long time. For people who’ve never been married, it’s hard to understand. For people who have been married, it’s impossible.
I was talking to a girl friend the other day. “Twenty-seven years?” she asked. “How does anyone stay married for twenty-seven years?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I think it’s like being in an alcohol or drug treatment program.”
“One day at a time.”
Anyway, today was really exciting because after I got back from my morning bike ride Mrs. WM was in a bad mood. “I’m feelin’ onna poopy,” she said.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. Mrs. WM is as healthy as two horses. She cooks four square meals a day from scratch, shops, does laundry, goes to Zumba several times a week, and dances in Michael Jackson flash mobs.
“I think I’m onna pregnant,” she said.
Now these are pretty much words of terror for any aged, 51-year-old fellow with three grown kids who hasn’t seen a dirty diaper in decades and is trying to pay off six figures of his progeny’s student loans with $2.99 PayPal subscriptions. But for me, it was more than terror, because a bun in the oven could only mean one thing: No more buns in the oven. You see, Mrs. WM bakes bread every day, and that would be the first thing that went by the boards if she started gestating. We’re talking serious stuff.
“What’s wrong onna your face?” she asked. Apparently it had turned a strange shade of death.
“Uh, well, let’s go get the dang thing tested.”
“Okay,” she said.
“But first I need to run by Boozy P.’s to pick up my bike.” Boozy is our crack local mechanic who has a strict periodizing training schedule. He lives next to a brewery where he has free drinking privileges, so instead of the usual three-in-one program, where riders train to hit three peaks in one season, Boozy rigorously follows the six-in-three plan.
“What the fugg is the six-in-three plan?” I once asked him.
“I periodize so that I’m monster fit for six months every three years. That way my cycling doesn’t get in the way of my drinking.”
Boozy is in the middle of a six-month peak, which is a great time to get your bike worked on because that’s when he adheres to a strict “no beer before 9:00 AM regimen.”
We swung by his shop. “I think there’s something wrong with my bottom bracket.”
He spun the cranks and looked at the rear wheel. “Do you ever have trouble stopping?”
“Is that ‘sometimes’ as in ‘every time I hit the brakes’?”
“Yeah. How’d you know?”
“Just a lucky guess.” He fiddled around with his wrench and pulled off my rear brake pads. “When’s the last time you put in new pads?”
“I didn’t know you could do that.”
“Yep. See these?” He held up the pads.
“I’d say you have about two millimeters of pad left.”
“Is that bad?” I asked.
“Nope. Because we’re replacing them.” Then Boozy opened up the bottom bracket. “I think this may be the source of that funny noise.” A black, thick goo spilled out. He showed me the bearings. “Ever seen a ball bearing before?” he asked.
“Sure. But I’ve never seen any square ones like those.”
“Right. Me, either. Let’s try some round ones. Whattaya say?”
“You’re the boss.”
After a little while Boozy P. had everything put back together. “What do I owe you?” I asked.
“Oh, c’mon.” I held out a dollar. “Really. Take it.”
He laughed. “No, thanks. I still owe you from that bar tab back in July.”
“Heck, if you insist.”
“I do. And happy holidays!”
I loaded the bike and headed to the pharmacy with Mrs. WM. “I ain’t goin’ onna buy no pregnant kit,” she said. “You go.”
“Yes, you. You put the spoon in the batter so you can go onna drugstore, not me.”
I went into the Rite-Aid shaking like a leaf. They had all the pregnancy equipment in a case with big plastic cover. The high school across the street had just let out and there were a bunch of teenage girls wandering the pharmacy aisle. They looked at me and I could practically see them shudder as I tried to read the labels. It was all pretty complicated.
“Rapid Response,” said one, as if anyone wanted a slow one. Then there was “Clearblue Plus” and “Clearblue Advanced.” Maybe one of them told you if you were pregnant, and the other one suggested baby names. Then I saw the “Pregnancy Urine Dipstrip,” and knew I had a match. Anything related to the dire consequences of unprotected sex that has a rhyming name had to be a winner.
I lifted up the plexiglass cover and a little bell started ringing. Everyone in the store looked over at me. Confused, I stood there with the lid up and the noise got louder. Then I figured it out — this was a clever Catholic ploy to embarrass young girls trying to make a covert purchase. I grabbed my urine dipstrip and jogged to the counter.
The nice lady looked at my purchase. “Hi,” I said, trying to pretend that I always bought urine dipstrips in the late morning. Then I casually grabbed a bag of Oreos to show how jaunty I was.
“Hello,” she said.
Then I started blushing, unsure what to say. Unsurprisingly, my next line wasn’t a winner. “Can you believe it?” I said. “Only missed three times in 27 years.”
“Would you like a receipt?” She pretended not to have heard.
Mrs. WM and I hurried home. A few minutes later she came into the living room. “Thatsa cookie dough ain’t gonna rise,” she said, clearly relieved.
“Whew,” I said.
“So what you gettin’ me onna anniversary present?” she asked.
I looked at her right hand and the urine dipstrip. “You’re holding it, sweetie. Happy anniversary.”
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