When I was 8 years old, my parents gave me a set of books for Christmas that remains, to this day, one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever received. They were beautiful. A matched row of hardback books in soft colors with gold lettering, with titles guaranteed to make any young girl a lifelong reader, including Black Beauty, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, and my all-time favorite, Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I completely fell in love with Little House, a passion I carry to this day. I read the books, years later bought the series on tape, and still watch reruns on my instant Netflex queue when I’m working out.
Kenny, however, doesn’t get it. “WHY do you like this series??” he asks repeatedly. “Nothing good ever happened to those people!” An understandable position, since he’s come home more than once to me sobbing on my elliptical trainer because Walnut Grove was suffering another drought, Mary went blind, Ma got bit by a snake and had to cut her own leg open, the blind school burned down, there was a typhoid epidemic, Bandit (Laura’s dog) died, and Grandpa had to shoot her horse. When you think about it, life pretty much sucked for these people.
What Kenny constantly points out is that most of this stuff happened when Pa was out of town. This is the only part of the show Kenny identifies with, and his first question when I tell him what’s happening on any given episode is, “Where was Pa?” This is not an altogether irrational question.
Over the last 14 years, Kenny has gone out of town and come home to caved-in garage ceilings, flooded carpets, dented car fenders, his beloved Chi Chi bandaged from an attack by the neighbor’s Rotweiller, Paco in the hospital getting a fish hook removed from his upper palette, tire tracks in the front yard, aborted attempts by me to repaint various rooms of the house, smoke damage in the kitchen, his stereo swapped out for a year’s worth of manicures, and his brand new bbq’er underneath his vintage 280ZX in the driveway.
Recently, Kenny was headed out the door for a 3-day golf trip, and as he tossed his clubs into the truck, I got my usual, only-slightly condescending admonitions (to which, after 13 years of marriage and the above-mentioned incidents, I take no offense whatsoever). “While I’m gone, under NO circumstances are you to cook, light the bbq, make home improvements, climb a ladder, reorganize the attic, drive my car, or plug in any power tool. Oh, and no making deals with my stuff.” Seems reasonable.
In my defense, all I did was spot a tiny bit of lint on the bedroom carpet, so I got the vacuum cleaner out and fired it up. As I pushed it forward, I stepped on the cord, which jerked me forward with stumble, so I grabbed the nearby door to catch myself, not realizing it was off its hinges and leaning up against the wall to be painted.
The door came crashing down as I face-planted into the carpet, bringing the door to rest on top of my backside, while our Chihuahuas came scrambling down the hall to help by excitedly licking my face with all the enthusiasm 15 pounds of combined canine could muster. Well, crap.
I can explain the vacuum cleaner. The butt-size hole in the door…yeah, not so much. I’m thinking he really needs to start golfing at the local course.