Scary bachelor meat party
My husband Preppy was sick all last week. Our schedules do not allow for illness, so at the first sign of a sniffle the offending party is required to quarantine in the guest room until the threat of contagion has passed.
This is really hard on the dog. She’ll spend the entire night trotting back and forth between his bed and mine, a bone hanging out of her mouth like a cigar, whining in confusion regarding where her loyalties should lie. The sick person obviously needs her more. The well person won’t wake her up with the coughing and the sneezing, which is important considering her agenda requires her to sleep for 16 hours daily.
Maintaining separate bedrooms really throws our competing schedules into sharp relief. We can go four or five days at a time without seeing each other awake. If we’re on opposite sides of the house, I lose the comfort of at least seeing him sleeping. But one does what one can with what one has, and I know he’s close by, which is something.
This week, Preppy’s in Washington, D.C., for a little work/play combo that will include “seeing Obama’s house, Lincoln, and the pointy thing.” It’s his first trip to our nation’s capital.
I’m there next month. He’s off to New York after that, where I was in early February. It’s as though we booked fun things to do together, but neglected to confirm any of the dates.
Each time Preppy goes out of town, I quickly amass damning evidence of the hoarder I would become if he went away forever. For some reason, being married is the only thing that seems to remind me that we own a trash can,.
If he’s gone for three days, I clean up on day three. If he’s gone for 10 days, I clean up on day 10. Funny discovery: If I leave an empty celery bag and a depleted hummus container on the kitchen counter, they multiply independently of my influence.
There’s an expectation that, with the husband away, one might be tempted to be naughty. And oh boy, I am. I have what I call the Scary Bachelor Meat Party.
Preppy is a vegetarian, so when he’s gone, our kitchen turns into a butcher shop. Steak, bags of pepperoni, bacon… once, I sat and picked apart an entire Publix rotisserie chicken on the sofa with my bare hands, like a “Walking Dead” zombie or Jodie Foster in “Nell.”
So I take my meat, and then I queue up some scary movies. Preppy hates ‘em. So when I’ve got the house to myself, we’re talking wall-towall screaming teenagers being chased by men with chainsaws. I stay up way too late and have a right fine time, eating bacon and watching people in peril. That’s how I spent tonight, and then I went to bed.
And then I heard a noise. It was just a little noise. It could have been the wind, or maybe a mouse. Or a person, standing in my kitchen, moving carefully so that they could sneak up on me and murder me because they want my TV or they heard I wrote “Angry Fags” and they want to hate crime me in my bed, or maybe they ride a bicycle and they found out I’m friends with Melissa Carter.
“Daisy. Go see what that is! Go!” I whispered, urgently, to the dog at the foot of my bed. She raised her head slightly, then let out a disapproving grunt and went back to sleep. I hated her so hard in that moment.
I laid there, for either two minutes or six hours, unmoving, waiting for the sound again. Nothing. Then I leapt out of bed, locked the bedroom door, grabbed my phone, and put on underpants and a t-shirt in case there were news cameras or police officers in my future. Still, no sound other than the snoring dog.
It’s easy to take moments for granted, like the comfort of another human next to you. Someone who can reassure you it was just the wind. And that maybe you shouldn’t stay up ‘til three in the morning eating a side of beef while watching horror movies.
Topher Payne is an Atlanta-based playwright, and the author of the book “Necessary Luxuries: Notes on a Semi-Fabulous Life.” Find out more at topherpayne.com