De Vos: What happened to my bikini?
My wife hangs on to weird stuff and keeps it in odd places.
Every once in a while I’ll look in a nook or cranny around the house and find things I’ve never seen before despite living under this same roof for decades. The other day for instance, I was groveling around in the slanted cubbyhole under the stairs where I found a significant pile of old magazines. They were wrapped in twine and labelled in my wife’s handwriting with a note that simply said, “keep”. The edges of the note were curled with age, looking like the pile had been “kept” for a while. Based on prior experience, I just shook my head and left them undisturbed.
“Significant” means different things to different people. A hundred bucks is not significant to a Wall Street banker but it gains significance if your banker says that’s the amount you’re overdrawn.
Because I don’t keep things longer than it takes to lose them, I fretted about the magazines for a few days before I could shrug my shoulders and chalk it up to one of those imponderable marriage things. But the topic unexpectedly reared its head at dinner a few nights ago when I complimented her on a splendid dessert.
“Yeah,” my wife replied, “it’s a recipe out of the October 1949 Better Homes and Gardens.”
There was a quiet pause while I did the arithmetic and then a longer pause as I added up the implications. “That’s, um, like 66 years old. You’ve kept a magazine since shortly after the Second World War?”
“Uh-uh,” she said, “Mom did.” I watched her nervously out of the corner of my eye and didn’t bring it up again.
A few months ago I asked, “Have you seen the Sports Illustrated that came yesterday?”
“That swimsuit thing? I threw it away,” she said, thumbing through a 1967 Family Circle, “I thought you were done with it.”
I stared, perplexed, “Uh, I don’t want to make an issue of it, but I don’t get it. Your magazines are heirloom keepsakes and mine get recycled straight out of the post office box.”
She looked up from her yellowed article, mimicking my perplexed look, “And you’re mentioning this to me because … ?”
“Because I wasn’t done with it,” I complained.
“What’s to be done with?” she said, “Why don’t you take the pictures out for dinner? Or maybe you could cut out the good parts and glue them on your sunglasses. No, wait! Why don’t you pull the staples out of their navel and wallpaper the garage with all your new girlfriends! Then you could invite all your other single buddies over to admire your swinging bachelor pad. I’ll leave you the lava lamp.”
Her sarcasm reeked like civet. “It’s not the pictures,” I winced, “I just, uh, wanted to read about what’s up with the Yankees.”
“They creamed the Confederates,” she said dryly, returning to her weathered magazine.
I also subscribe to New Yorker. The New Yorker is a weekly that takes eight days to read, and eventually piles up around your ears. Except at my house. I have to read it standing up because, God Forbid, I should put it down. Boom, its pages are lining the bottom of a bird cage. On the other hand, I have two well-informed parrots with distinct opinions about the current flock of Republican poseurs.
Hmm, wallpaper the garage, did you say?
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