Slay me, betray me
Filet me, all the way me.
Douse me in alcohol
Set me aflame and flambé me.
It was rapidly approaching 8pm. Darkness was engulfing the land. Wearily my wife and I made our way to the bedroom. It was time for the nightly ritual of getting ready for bed. The end of another long day.
For me, going to sleep is like giving up. It’s saying, “Once I close my eyes it will be time to open them again, on a new day, and do all of this stuff all over again.” Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
I can’t imagine a more gloomy sentiment.
Yet little did I know at that moment the betrayal that was heading my way before I’d even had the chance to experience that sadness. I wasn’t going to make it to bed unscathed.
The ritual has become routine. It is a prescribed set of actions that take place in a certain order. It’s a nightly ballet.
I am the first to arrive in the master bath. I call dibs on the potty while my wife brushes her teeth. The cat arrives and takes his appointed place on the rug by the shower, watching us. It’s like clockwork. Every night, the same spot. Our cats enjoy routine.
Soon my wife waits impatiently for me to finish. She takes her place on the throne and I brush my teeth. Clockwork. Precision.
Done, she washes her hands as I bolt for the bed. I have to be first under the covers. Always first. That means she’s the one who has to turn out the light.
The interplay sometimes includes words. “Did you turn down the thermostat?” This comes randomly from either one of us. “Did you get under all of the damn blankets?” This one is exclusively my wife’s. Apparently she doesn’t much care for a sheet thermocline between us in the middle of the night.
Oh, and 99 percent of the time she finds a way to put icy cold friggin’ wet hands on my body and make me jump out of my skin. I hate that shit. And she knows it. So she does it all the damn time.
In self defense I’ve developed a maneuver known at The Flinch. My wife does not like The Flinch. It irritates her when she reaches for me and I flinch like a beaten puppy. Yet she still brings the cold water night after night.
Something doesn’t add up. As momma always used to say, “Live by the flinch, die by the flinch.”
The other night, though, she had something in mind. She needed some ointment rubbed on her neck and shoulders. Her proposal? “You rub this ointment on me and I won’t come after you with the cold water.”
“You got a deal!”
Something new added to the nightly routine. In good faith I lovingly applied the clear ointment, whatever the hell it was, with a deftness of touch like a choir of angels singing the lightest of hymns. I poured my heart and soul and every fiber of my being into the application of the ointment.
Then, a few minutes later, in the middle of our routine …
“Holy mother of God,” I screamed.
Cold. Wet. Hands. Wet. And cold. I remember thinking, this must be what Joe Pesci felt like when he thought he was being taken to become a Made Man but instead got whacked. It’s a shock to the system. Did I mention it was cold? And wet?
I turned, slow motion, in bewilderment, shock and surprise, towards the flower, the love of my life. I, the damned, the lost, the heartbroken. And I gave her The Look.
It was a look frozen in time of hurt, pain, and utter astonishment. It was a look of trust violated, of trust ripped out and stabbed with a knife and thrown in a blender. My wife would later describe the look as “precious.”