NOW THAT I AM 85: I Am Leaving My Little Husband
We stand in the doorway of our bedroom.
“I guess this is goodbye,” my little husband says.
“I guess so.”
“I will miss you,” he says.
I don’t want to look him in the eyes. If he is sad, it always makes me want to cry.
“I will miss you also.” I am looking at his feet. “You should put on your slippers, your feet will get cold.”
“I will do that,” he says. After a while, he also says “I always thought maybe I would like to have pajamas with feet in them. And the feet would have little ears, maybe.”
I agree. “The children always liked their pajamas with feet. Remember?”
We nod at each other. He says “I don’t want you to go.”
“We discussed it,” I remind him. “It is for the best. And it is only for one night.”
“Maybe,” he says mournfully. “But what if it turns out good?”
It is because of the flatulence. His flatulence, my flatulence, it doesn’t matter. It keeps getting worse as we get older.
It isn’t the noise that wakes us up; we could use earplugs. And it isn’t the smell. After you have been married such a long time, this is no longer too bothersome. It is OK. He agrees with me on this point.
The problem is: Every time it happens, it knocks us both right up off the bed. One time I even really fell out of the bed and sprained my wrist. We argued over who was responsible, but could not come to any definitive conclusion.
So we have decided to sleep in separate bedrooms for a night, and see how it goes. We both need to rest.
I have put on my own slippers and I am ready to go across the hall.
“Oops!” I say.
I go to our bed and get the tooth from under my pillow.
Now, if I may use an expression from when we were young, he BLOWS A GASKET.
“You’re not taking that stupid tooth?” he hollers. “How many years have you waited for the tooth fairy to come and get it? How many mornings did you look under your pillow and see she didn’t take it? When will you get a brain? I’m telling you, THERE IS NO TOOTH FAIRY! Only children believe such a foolishness. I tell you again, NO TOOTH FAIRY!”
Sometimes he will get very mad and yell a lot about something (in this case, the tooth fairy) when he is really bothered by something else (our separation). Or it might be that he still feels bad that he was the one who knocked out the tooth when we were playing touch football in Central Park. So I say only: “Well, good night.’
I go to sleep quickly, confident there will be no occurrence to wake me in the night.
I am wrong.
Some time before dawn I hear a wuffy sound at the door. In the darkness, I see a figure approaching my bed. It is a lady, and she has wings. Very quietly, she reaches under my pillow and takes my tooth.
She stands looking at it for a moment. Then she puts a coin under my pillow. As she leaves, she seems to be floating; her bare feet barely touch the floor.
She has left me a shining quarter. I clutch it to my breast and smile. I am tempted to run across the hall right away, but he needs his sleep, so I wait until dawn.
“Only a QUARTER?” he hollers. “What a cheapskate! The children, they get a dollar these days!”
“Maybe she’s a fixed-income fairy?”
He becomes very quiet. He stands there and looks at me, so sadly.
He says nothing more. He goes and sits in the straight-backed chair in the corner.
I go over and put my hands on his shoulders.
He turns the chair around to face away from me, looking at the wall.
“What is the matter?” I ask.
It is hard for him to speak. “What if…..what if all these years she didn’t come and take your tooth because—because of me? Because I said she wasn’t real? Did she want to come here and get your tooth and was it me that stopped her? Did I make some kind of…negative vibratories?”
“I don’t think so,” I say. I give him a Kleenex. “A quarter is nice,” I say. “And we got other money. Should we go take a nice walk, maybe share an egg cream?”
“Okay,” he says.
And we do.