There’s a proper way to open drapes. You have to space the panels a bit, not leave them in weird clumps, you have to make it look good! But not to my husband, no, he messily spreads them apart into uneven bunches of fabric. I am unable to walk past without fixing them. I am unable to let this go.
He catches me adjusting. He is not pleased. Why am I redoing his work, he wonders? We argue and it starts to get heated because apparently I am the “Curtain Police.” Apparently I am all sorts of police. Apparently I make him feel like nothing he does is good enough.
Okay, I may have a pinch of the OCD. I may want things done a certain way. I may take it a bit too far. But my loved ones have always dealt with it by muttering under their breath or silently judging me, which has worked just fine. This morning is different. On this morning my precision becomes a fight. It’s like suddenly there’s a rope between us; we each pick up an end and tug.
I hear myself say, “You must balance out the folds!” And I think, “Wait, what are we quarreling about here, drapery?” It feels ridiculous while it’s happening but I can’t stop myself. He takes a deep breath, goes into the bathroom, and now I’m really fuming because he walked away from my curtain lecture! I follow after him, relentlessly continuing my spiel as he brushes his teeth. I should have known what concludes this ritual but I am too wrapped up in my point.
It happens. He spits. A fizzing sound followed by a saliva-y, white stream which ungraciously drips down, and he is so exposed and so human and so plebeian that I stop talking. I feel lightheaded, brace myself on the counter. Then again he rinses, more dribble, and I am on a carnival ride, the world must be rotating faster on its axis! I am dizzy with lastima for him and for the gross, uncool, everyday act of letting stuff tumble out of your mouth.
Suddenly this man standing before with toothpaste smeared on his cheek is not my enemy but my teacher, my balance, my mirror. He is a man who does not need to measure the inches between hangers in his closet, who does not want to double check the burners 10 times before leaving, who couldn’t care less how the chip-clip is positioned on a bag of pretzels. He is a man who does not try to control the uncontrollable which is pretty much all of everything of life.
And maybe it’s that I have more to learn from him than he has to absorb my anality. And maybe for today I can leave the curtains where they are. And maybe later I will buy a special mask for us to wear in the bathroom. That way I don’t have to see his pasty release again. We should both be allowed to be ourselves in this home, and spit in peace.
p.s. Even Brad Pitt looks positively pedestrian during a gargle or rinse.