Thursday, January 29, 2009

Are You Listening, Honey?

My wife isn't speaking to me.
But, wait, before you suggest marriage counseling or a dozen roses, let me explain. It's not our relationship that's out of whack, it's our schedules.
We call it "ships that pass in the night syndrome," and basketball season is a prime time for it to occur.
You see, Megan is a teacher, who spends long days doing her job. She generally gets up before dawn to grade papers and get ready for the day, spends the day at school and the after-school program, then comes home, where she often works into the evening on the never-ending pile of classwork to read and review. I, on the other hand, am a sportswriter. During busy times like basketball season, I work from home and at the Star Courier office later in the day, then cover a multitude of games in the evenings, often returning home late at night after she's finally gone to bed. In addition, we're both involved in a fair share of organizations and other activities that further reduce the chance we'll see each other when we're both awake. So, many of the conversations we do manage to have feature one of us speaking in a language I call "Sleeplish." It's kinda like English, but, inexplicably, seems to have no vowels.
Me: "I'm home, how was your day?"
She: "Whxxx? Nfngrx rfng ylp."
...and so on.
She tries leaving me notes, but I'm afflicted by a malady known as "male pattern blindness," a chronic condition that strikes approximately 98% of married American men over the age of two. The condition leaves me almost completely unable to see what I'm supposed to see when I'm supposed to see it, whether it's a piece of laundry, an item on a pantry shelf, or, especially, a note outlining suggested activities for my day.
A solution would be to put the note where I'm absolutely bound to see it, like, say, taped to a doughnut, but, she's yet to see the logic in that, and she doesn't know where I hide them, anyway.
I, on the other hand, have tried leaving her notes, which she generally finds, but claims she can't understand. I confess that, especially when fielding phone messages, I have a tendency to revert to the self-taught shorthand I sometimes use when conducting interviews. I realize it may take some getting used to, but, heck, what could
"U hrt trans sked 4 2mr 8am" mean besides "Your heart transplant is scheduled for tomorrow morning at eight."?
But recently, it's occurred to us that there is an extra method of intramarital communications that's already at work: This newspaper.
Megan snags the Star Courier off the front porch every morning on her way to the coffee pot. By reading the sports section, she can find out just where I was the night before, and even whether it was a fun night or kind of a dreary experience. On Thursdays, she reads this column to discover what I've been thinking about recently and whether I've completely lost my mind yet. On the day after the inauguration, she read a front-page essay I had written on some of the music played that day. Surprised, as I had said I was going to skip the TV coverage of the event, she addressed herself to my sleeping form:
"I thought you weren't going to watch the inauguration on TV," she said.
"Whxxx? Nfngrx rfng ylp," I replied.
...and so on.
A co-worker pointed out to her that here, right in the pages of this newspaper, was a way Megan and I were communicating every day.
But that's silly.
After over 36 years of marriage, we surely can find a better way to talk to each other. But in case we don't...

Dear Megan,
If you have time, please pick up some cat food on your way home. I'll be late tonight. See you sometime in March, right after basketball season.

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