I am an eternal pessimist. I think that if you start every day expecting the worst, you may be pleasantly surprised a small, and I mean minuscule percentage of the time. Joel and I are proof that opposites attract because he believes in the inherent goodness and beauty of all humanity. I believe Murphy’s law is a pipe dream.
Whereas I create worst-case scenarios, Joel smiles and says, “What could possibly go wrong?”
Joel is a teacher who moonlights as a handyman, especially in the summer. Part of his summer work involves shingling houses. Naturally, I worry incessantly while he is climbing around on roofs, and it helps me a great deal if he gives me a ballpark time as to when he will arrive home. A typical summer workday might go like this:
Joel kisses me and heads out the door at 7:30. He says he will be quitting early today, and to expect him back around 2:00.
I scream at the kids and wash 14 loads of laundry until noon, at which time I plop a frozen pizza in front of them, and then throw it in the trash after they eat the pepperonis off the top. Once I tried to skip a step and simply served a bowl of microwaved pepperonis, but for some odd reason that didn’t go over so well. Before you judge, understand that the pizza crust in the trash was whole grain organic.
After lunch, I call Joel to check in. When he doesn’t answer the first seven times, I shakily start planning his funeral. Since I am putting laundry away in my closet anyway, I might look for a tasteful and refined black dress to wear to the ceremony while I am in there.
At that moment, Joel calls. “So sorry, honey. I had my phone on silent. Not sure why. What’s up?”
“I was just wondering whether I should wear the black silk dress with the buttons down the back or the dark grey bell-sleeve chiffon to your funeral,” I reply dryly.
“Oh, Honey. You’re so funny. You know I’m careful.”
“Except for the time you fell off the roof, broke several ribs, punctured a lung, dislocated your shoulder, and got that concussion.”
“Sweetheart, that was almost ten years ago. Try to relax,” he says soothingly.
“Yes, when you were ten years younger and healthier and more coordinated,” I say, just a little sassily.
I know there’s no point in arguing, so I just admonish him to be careful. I know that when he says 2:00, he means 4:00, so I decide that I will not worry until it’s time, and start on the next eight loads of laundry.
At 4:00, I decide on the bell-sleeve chiffon. It could use a quick run over with an iron, and I won’t be up for it once the news is confirmed, so I turn on the iron to get it heating up. I’m pretty sure Dashiell’s suit still fits, and Millie has several dark dresses, but Clementine only has colorful, festive clothes. I wonder if I can get my mom to pick up something more appropriate for her when she’s on her way here to help me organize all the casseroles people are bound to start dropping off.
Poor Clementine. Here I had been worried that she’d lose her father before he could walk her down the aisle at her wedding (I mean, with a walker is better than not having her father there at all). Now she wouldn’t even have her daddy at the father-daughter dance in kindergarten.
When Joel walks in at 4:30, I run into his arms and lay my head on his chest. “I’ll never get tired of the way you greet me,” he says. “You make me feel so loved, baby.”
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