Scared of my own shadow
A grown man
Hiding from his wife
Afraid to spend his own money.
“Fuss at ’em!”
“Tell them to make you President!”
“Honey, can I please have some money?”
I ask apologetically
“What do you need money for?”
“Where did you spend the last money I gave you?”
“Spending it on your girlfriend?”
She counters angrily
“You should take your lunch!”
She continues in a motherly voice
“Quit eating out you’re getting fat!”
She adds with a disdainful look
“All I have is ten dollars. Is that enough?”
She states with finality
Not that it’s really a question
I reply and take the offered bill casually.
“When are you going to cut the grass?”
“You need to get fertilizer.”
“You need to put down bug-killer before the grubs eat it all up.”
“You need to change the oil in your truck.”
“You need to wash your truck.”
“We need to clean out the camper.”
“When are you going to start the screen room?”
“Your son got fired today.”
“That stupid Min-Pin is in heat and bleeding everywhere.”
“Your daughters won’t clean their rooms.”
“The boys left the gates open and I had to clean up 3 piles of crap.”
“We need to replace the carpet in the living and dining rooms.
It’s been peed on so many times that the vacuum sticks to it.”
“You need to fix the toilet paper holder in the bathroom.”
“We need to do new wallpaper in the kitchen.”
“I sure wish you’d get the bay window installed in the family room.”
“We ate dinner at 5. Your plate’s in the refrigerator.”
“Why don’t you come home on time?”
“Why are you always at work?”
“Why don’t you wake me up in the morning before you leave?”
“Why do you go to work so early?”
“I’m leaving for my walk now.”
“There’s a whole load of clothes in the laundry room that needs to go up.”
“The dishwasher’s clean and needs to be unloaded.”
“Would you mind feeding the dogs.”
“Be back in a little bit.”
Silently I pull my plastic plate from the fridge.
It’s nice that she managed to save some scraps from the feeding frenzy.
A hamburger, broccoli with cheese and some salad – with no fat dressing.
A minute in the microwave.
Knock the dog off the table.
Turn off the television.
The sounds of two separate radio stations
Each at high volume
Pulsate through the ceiling.
Sit down to a nice quiet meal.
Forgot the drink.
Have to run downstairs to find a cold can of diet Coke.
The dog’s standing in the chair
Sniffing my meal
But jumps down when I scream at her.
I finally get the first bite
The microwaves have long since dissipated
But the grease hasn’t solidified yet.
The basement door bursts open again.
“Daddy, how do you do this problem?”
“See number 12?”
“She didn’t explain it in class and I have a quiz tomorrow!”
“I hate Calculus.”
“I don’t have time to read the book! I need to get this done.”
“Then I have a research paper that’s due tomorrow.”
“I haven’t started reading the books yet.”
“Do you know anything about ‘Lord of the Flies’?”
“That stupid computer forgot my paper.”
“How do you do footnotes on it?”
“How do you do a bibliography?”
“You don’t know how to do the problem?”
“C’mon dad – just rotate the equation through the x-y plane
then take the double integral in terms of x.”
“I just don’t know what kind of work she wants me to show.”
“I guess I’ll just get an F on the test!”
The basement door closes automatically behind her.
Short of the thumping from upstairs it’s quiet again.
The front door flies open.
“Dad – can you get my Roller Blade out of the tree?”
“We were trying to knock the basketball down and my Roller Blade got stuck.”
“We were throwing the basketball up to make the bats dive at us.”
“Do you know where my bicycle helmet is?”
“Can we go up to the pool parking lot and skate?”
“All the other kids are up there!”
That crisis fades away.
I return to find the remains of my hamburger under the kitchen table.
No dogs in sight.
Hope they live through the night.
Tromping steps on the deck.
The power walkers return.
My precious spouse and her friend.
“What are you doing still eating!”
They scream in unison.
“What have you been doing?”
“You’ll be as big as a house!”
I start to explain but settle for a weak “Nothing.”
I clear my dishes
Grab the laundry basket
And escape upstairs.
I resolve that tomorrow I’ll demand to be President.
And I’ll really surprise her
I’ll ask for a raise, too!