(originally published January 16, 2007)
There are three secrets to having a good marriage.
3. And deny again.
Especially when the fate of a large and expensive home appliance is in a delicate balance between a healthy spin cycle and a hefty repair bill.
And speaking of balancing….
“We have a serious problem,” my husband said very gravely.
Uh-oh, I thought, and automatically went into cover-your-butt mode. He had used his serious voice, the one reserved for tax time and divorce discussions. And it was nowhere near April.
He led me into the laundry room, lifted the washer’s square lid, reached in and pulled out the soggy corner of a light blue patchwork quilt.
“Did you put THIS in here?” he said, giving the blanket a rough shake on the word, “this.”
I leaned over and peeked inside, noticing that most of the queen-sized quilt was piled high on only one side of the washer’s tub, leaving acres of gleaming metal on the opposite side.
My mind jumped into action and I ran through my list of Save Yourself Scenarios, quickly discarding No. 3, the one about over-medicating and No. 6, the one to do with aliens. I’m saving that one for explaining how I burned a hole in the bathroom linoleum with my curling iron.
So I decided on No. 1, the scenario upon which all others are based – deny, deny, deny.
I looked up, opened my eyes as wide and as innocently as the sockets would allow and took a deep breath.
And that’s as far as I got before he interrupted me. So much for Scenario No. 1.
“Because I know I didn’t put this thing in there and I know the dog didn’t put this thing in there and I know our 18-month-old son didn’t put this thing in there,” he spat out, throwing his arms above his head and accidentally knocking into the room’s lone, bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling.
I watched as it swung in a crazy arc over his head while he continued, “And it’s much too heavy for this machine and it overbalanced and now it’s not working. At all. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. It’s dead. Completely. And utterly. Dead.”
He dropped the lid with a bang, the loud sound took my attention away from the hypnotic light still swinging above his head. “Honey,” he said, “you killed the washing machine.”
Whoa, I thought. J’accuse?! Moi?! Or whatever the French say when they get their dander up. I have no idea why I felt the need to defend myself in French. Perhaps I should explore that with my therapist next week. But I digress….
“I’m not really sure how the quilt got in the washer,” I said. I knitted my brows together, crossed my arms and tapped one finger against pursed lips in a proper thinking manner. “Hmmm,” I added for good measure and to stall. I had a sinking feeling that simple denial wasn’t gonna cut it. Time to use the imagination. I’m told I have a very active one.
“Aha!” I exclaimed, “Perhaps it was magic.” I nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah, magic. I’ve been reading a lot of Harry Potter lately, you know. Maybe I accidentally unlocked some hidden, magical power I didn’t know I had.”
I waved my arms excitedly. Don’t stop me; I was on a roll here.
I danced around a little and continued, “You know my ancestors were Irish, right? Maybe there’s some mystical Celtic or Druid blood running through my veins that caused all this, you know. Maybe I subconsciously thought about washing the quilt sometime during the night. Then, this morning, it levitated (I made a flying motion with my arms for good effect) down the stairs and flew into the laundry room and wiggled into the washer. All by itself. Because, you know, I would never put something so big in the washing machine.”
With that I stopped talking, took a step back, crossed my arms in a “So there” kind of way and waited.
The silence was deafening. Then a sliver of a smile appeared on my husband’s face and then turned into a full-out grin.
“Try telling that to the repairman,” he laughed. “I’ll bet it’s one he’s never heard before.”
I am nothing, I thought, if not original.