I called her while driving home after a long day of work. Normally, I do not like talking on the phone while commuting home even though she is my exception to the rule on almost everything. I’m the type of person who likes to roll down the windows. I like to feel the breeze. I like to listen to music. I like to unwind. I like to settle my mind. I like to disconnect from the clock of life as much as possible.
“What do you want to eat tonight?” I ask her.
“I don’t know,” She replies. “I don’t care.”
On the right day, that question and response is like angering a content bee’s hive by punting the hell out of it. That question and response can divide cities in the amount of time it takes you to inhale a single breath. That question and response will feel like verbal torture after an already long day. That question and inevitable response is like throwing a lit stick of dynamite into a steel walled room filled with cute baby bunnies and watching the aftermath through a reinforced glass window.
Do you look away before the spontaneous splatter happens or watch out of curiosity?
“If ‘I don’t care’ or ‘I don’t know’ were a dish, you wouldn’t know what else to eat,” I reply.
“Whatever,” she jabs. “If ‘I don’t care’ or ‘I don’t know’ weren’t a dish, then you wouldn’t know what else to cook.”
I picture the bunnies sniffing the lit stick of TNT, whose fuse continues to grow shorter and shorter with every passing second.
“What is that supposed to mean?” I ask.
“Nothing!” She answers. “Just forget it!”
Sniff that explosive carrot, little bunny. You are about to get the nibble to end all nibbles.
I construct a way to disarm this ticking time bomb because it obviously is not the right time of the day, much less month, to destroy three worlds over something as simple as one plated meal.
I hear her take a breath on the other side of the phone. She’s tightly wound. She is a woman, right, I think but dare not say. I think of a way to sneak in, chip away at that lovingly cold shoulder that I will turn into spa water by the end of the night, and end this petty game the way I see fit. Some days, you sit in the breeze and enjoy it. Some days, you just need to bring the plane in and land it smoothly.
Alright, brave little bunny, hop on over there, bit the fuse with them Chiclets of yours, burn those pretty pink lips, and save your comrades.
“How about this.”
I hear her push the receiver closer to her ear and mouth. I feel her tight composure start to lift. I turn my radio down. I study the cars scurrying about like ants on a ground made out of chocolate covered creme filled doughnut crumble. The busyness gives me dizziness. The clutter gives me instant anxiety if I let it.
When did the world become so busy, I think. People need to learn to chill!
A car horn honks because someone sat longer than .00002 seconds at a fresh green light.
The world needs to be on a Xanax drip.
“How about what?” She asks impatiently.
She breaks me out of my daze. I turn my attention back to her.
“How about I defrost and sauté a couple of chicken breast, steam some vegetables, and bake us a potato? I think we have some brownies leftover to add for dessert,” I reply. “What do you think about that?”
She pretends to think for a couple of seconds but I know I’ve nailed it, especially with the brownies. If I play my cards right, I might get two servings of dessert tonight. She can play whatever game she wants from here on out, but I know I am the victorious matador. She can stampede from here to Neptune if she wants to, and none of it will matter when she sees me twirling the red cape with my hands.
The bunnies are safe for now, I think. They can go back to nibbling, sniffing, hopping around, and, well, doing what bunnies do best. The matador has saved the day!
“That sounds good,” she replies. “You sure you aren’t too tired?”
Honestly, I’m more exhausted than a jogger who just ran a 3,000,000k with steel toed boots and a weighted backpack.
“I’ll be fine,” I reply. “I can rest when my o’bit is printed.”
She chuckles, as do I.
“And if you’re a good girl, somebody might have a warm, sudsy bath waiting on her and get her tired feet massaged when she gets home!”
Flip that pressed, red cape, you handsome matador, you!
I feel her emotional state decompose. She turns from frozen ice cream and into the silkiest milkshake ever tasted. She’s so thick and smooth right now, if you blew air into her straw, little bubbles would slowly and forcefully rise to the top.
I’m going to turn that bull around and spank that chunk of meat near its hind legs. After showing her who’s boss, I’m going to make eye contact with that fuming beast and tease her. She’ll scrub the dirt with her hoof and prepare to charge again because this is our dance and nobody else’s.
“How does that sound, babe?”
She clears her throat. The feelings I currently experience are nice. For the first time in quite a while, I feel safe.
“You’d do that for me?”
I unwrap a throat lozenge and pop it into my mouth. I rub vanilla bean chapstick over my lips.
“I’d do that times two if you want, baby,” I confess. “You know me!”
She breathes into the receiver. I feel her lips graze over it. It’s almost like her plush pillows are scraping the surface of my cheek, stubble and all.
“I think all of that sounds, well,” a break in her voice, “perfect, honestly!”
I set my cruise control. I continue on with my pitch that started out shaky and is now turning into a somewhat provocative verbal exchange.
“I think we deserve that every once in a while, wouldn’t you say?”
She laughs at my comment and loses herself in the moment. She forgets she is at work. There is power in moments like that.
“I have a question since you’ll be getting home before me?”
Six seconds of silence pass between us. All I can hear is the roaring of the road passing underneath my tires. I hear her clicking away at her computer. Her work phone rings but a co-worker answers it. I check my rear view mirror.
“Can you hold off on your shower until I get home?”
I sniff myself.
“I need to warn you. I’m howling today!”
“Well, I was hoping you’d share the tub with me.”
She clears her throat.
“It would give us time to talk about our day and spend more time with one another! And, well, you know! Maybe things will lead to other things?”
I am truly in love with how this conversation is ending as compared to how it began. The fascination goes beyond intrigue.
“Other things? Whaaaat? So, you mean like us doing face masks together or using an extra special exfoliate scrub on our backs or something?
“Oh hush! You know what I mean. Don’t start pressing your luck!”
I control myself now so I can lose control later.TM
“Okay, okay, okay!” I reply. “I got you. I will be waiting to hear your car pull up. I’ve missed you today.”
She starts to glow. The sun beams brighter through the gray clouds. The hairs on my arm start to stand with pinpoint accuracy. Electromagnetism.
“Aww, babe, I’ve missed you too,” she replies. “I will see you in a couple of hours. Okay?”
“Okay. You know where to leave your clothes when you get home?”
Things get serious.
“At the back door?” She asks.
“You know it! Let me get off the phone and get to it.” I say.
She chuckles seductively and bites the tip of her finger.
“You do that!”
Three seconds of silence transpire.
“I love you!” I say.
“Mmm hmm! I love you too!” She replies.
We both hit the red end call button at the same time. All I can do is shake my head.
Brave little bunny, that bit the fuse and saved all your other bunny brothers and sisters, look at what your actions have led to. Despite burning your nibblers and facial hair, you have now been granted entrance into the nicest garden in all of the land. There’s only one thing left to do now. Hop to it!
Flick that red cape, you brave Matador, you. The bull does not want to be hurt. It just wants to play. At the end of this visible tango, it will be pardoned for another day. This arena is yours. Nobody else’s but yours. You own this experience.
“Show her why,” a voice whispers from a crack between the darkest of oblivions and lightest of ecstasies.
I smile at the invisible jargon that stuttered from the far reaches of my mind.
For me, it’s just another day in the life of.
The life of me.
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