Mark has done a variety of small things to annoy me in the last day or so.
There was this . . .
“Mark, could you read this post and tell me if it’s funny?”
He sits down and reads, “Yeah, it’s funny.”
“So why didn’t you laugh? You didn’t laugh one time. You didn’t even smile.”
“I was laughing on the inside. You know I rarely laugh out loud when I am reading . . . doesn’t mean it isn’t funny. I was laughing on the inside.”
I am dubious, “Really?”
“I’ve told you this before. When I read, I am an inside laugher.”
Later, there was this . . .
“Hey, Mark? Can I ask you a question?”
He pauses on his way through the room, “Sure.”
I point at my computer screen, where I am in the middle of writing something, “I am just looking for the word for a certain kind of blanket I remember from when I was a kid.”
“Just call it a blanket. Done.”
“Hush. Just listen. It’s a big heavy decorative blanket that’s designed to go over the top of the bedding . . . big thick fringe along the sides and a raised monochrome pattern of flowers or something along its surface. I remember ours being a yellow color, but then I also think maybe it was green or maybe burnt orange or maybe we had more than one blanket like this. Anyway, it was weirdly heavy and drapey, and in my mind it’s got sort of a 1974 kind of vibe. You remember anything like that from your childhood?”
Mark says, “An afghan?”
“Really, Mark? Nothing about what I said suggests afghan. Nothing.”
“Huh . . . comforter?”
“You are not even trying. Really? You think I am struggling to find the word comforter?”
Mark stands in the doorway, anxious to end this conversation, “Want me to get out the blanket thesaurus?”
I stare at him, “Why do I even talk to you?”
“So that’s a no on the blanket thesaurus?”
A bit later, there was this, in the middle of a trying dinner in which the girls are being immature and foolish and just completely getting on my nerves . . .
“Mark, I have to go to the bathroom. Could you please keep the girls under control while I am gone? What is so difficult about eating mashed potatoes politely, I do not even know. They need to stop playing with their food. Keep an eye on them.”
Maj and Kallan giggle sassily, and Mark promises to keep them under control.
When I return, all three of them are laughing hysterically, and two of them are standing in their seats to see what sort of sound mashed potatoes make when they are dropped onto a plate from several feet above.
Maj catches her breath and says, “Mother, I tried to stop them.”
I glare up at Mark, “Really? REALLY?”
And then there was this, as we are about to go to sleep . . .
I am trying to remember the name of an actor. I would just Google it, but the name of the actor is right on the tip of my tongue, so I turn to Mark for help . . .
“Mark, what’s the name of that actor who died of a drug overdose . . . the one who was in Batman?”
“Michael Keaton died of a drug overdose?”
“Val Kilmer died of a drug overdose?”
“OK, stop. The guy I am talking about played The Joker.”
“Yes, Mark. Thank you.”
Silence for a minute, and then, “You’re not talking about Jack Nicholson, are you?”
“No . . . Listen for a minute. I mean the guy who starred in Brokeback Mountain.”
Mark speaks with authority, “Oh yeah. His name was Brick something.”
“You are so annoying . . . nobody is named Brick. Nobody.”
He turns over on his side, and fluffs his pillow, “Pretty sure that guy was Brick. Or maybe Dirk.”
“Oh my god . . . you’re not serious. He was not named Brick and he was not named Dirk. Seems to me his name started with an H.”
Mark makes thinking sounds that possibly slip into snoring, and then, “Red. His name was Red.”
“Fuck! Why do I start these conversations with you? Why do I ever ask you questions of any sort? You are not even trying.”
So I reach for my iPhone and look up the information I want, “Heath Ledger! Babe, wake up . . . Heath Ledger.”
Mark turns, and by the light of my iPhone, I see him smile in sleepy triumph, “Heath Ledger . . . exactly. Glad to have been able to help.”
And then this morning, there was this . . .
As I am sipping my coffee, Mark is reading a magazine article. He keeps reading parts of this article out loud to me, laughing as he reads. He keeps laughing and reading bits aloud and then laughing and reading bits aloud.
I stare at him.
He grows uneasy, “What?”
I glare at him, “You are so annoying.”
“What did I do?”
I refuse to answer his question, because he is so annoying.
He returns to his article, giggling happily, “Listen to this! This is so funny!”
So I spend the morning feeling grudgy.
At lunchtime, Mark and I are sitting alone together in a restaurant booth. Sensing my grudgy mood, he asks me what’s wrong, and I try to explain that I have just not been feeling close to him this last few days. I lean forward and tell Mark the stories I have told here in this post . . . I need him to see these events from my perspective. Mark listens closely as I talk, and I feel the small pettinesses of my angers fall away . . . here is my husband . . . he will understand . . . he can make this better.
I stop talking.
I look into Mark’s eyes.
I realize he is not exactly looking into mine.
All this time I have been talking, I thought he was looking at me, but I see now that his eyes are actually focused on something just over my shoulder.
I snap my fingers, “Mark, what are you looking at?”
He is jolted back into our conversation, “What?”
“What are you looking at?”
He is sheepish, “I have just never seen a woman play pool in such a tight-fitting low-cut outfit. It seems inappropriate to the task at hand. Fabulous but inappropriate.”
There is a TV mounted on the wall just behind me. The sound is muted . . . two women playing in some sort of billiards tournament. One of the competitors is indeed dressed in strangely provocative fashion.
Mark laughs, “Don’t be mad. I got distracted.”
I am pissed.
We sit in silence for a few minutes.
Mark unwraps his straw and fiddles with it for a bit, “Sorry.”
“No, don’t be like that. Tell me what you were saying.”
He fiddles with his straw a bit more and then threads it through his fingers so that it rests atop his middle finger and below the others. He brings his hand down hard on the tabletop so that the straw is bent upward around his middle finger. He smiles in triumph, “What do you think of me now?”
I stare at him.
He picks up the bent straw and holds it so that I can see, “When I was younger, I would have snapped a pencil to demonstrate my manly coolness. You would have found my macho pencil-snapping to be irresistible.”
Mark smooths the straw along the table’s surface, “Not sure if you are aware, but pencils are quite hard and snapping them against your fingers is quite painful, so those days are behind me.”
“So I am supposed to be impressed with the fact that you can snap a straw in two?”
He looks at me hopefully, “That’s the plan, yes.”
I laugh, “You are quite awesome, babe.”
He sighs in relief, “Whew . . . thought I was going to have to resort to double-straws.”
I laugh helplessly.
He smiles, “I like when you laugh.”
I reach for his hand, “You know what the best part of my laughing is?”
“I do it on the outside . . . where you can appreciate it.”
He is puzzled.