I’m trying to write.
I’ve attempted to hide in my son’s room, the only place in the house he doesn’t hang out, and my solitude has lasted a full 39 seconds before:
“Pops come take a picture of me now.”
“I can’t dear boy. I’m trying to write.”
“Pleeeeeease come take a picture of me and Little Missy. She looks so cuuuuute.”
“I’m taking a picture in my mind right now, dear boy.”
“Pops, that’s not the same!”
“It’s good enough for me and I promise I’ll remember it always,” I yell from the chair in his room.
“But how will I see it if it’s only in your head?”
“I’ll describe it to you anytime you want.”
“Pops, that’s not the same.”
A gnawing panic inside me begins to grow like dough with too much yeast. I had this great idea for a piece and now it’s slipping away. Feels like I’ll never get anything written today.
“I’ll draw it it for you later, I promise, but right now I really need to WRITE.”
My end-of-the-semester, grad student wife is in the other room. He polls her next.
“Maaaaaama, come take a picture of me on your iPhone.”
“I’d love to sweetie but I’m right in the middle of studying. A little bit later okay.”
“Lovey-kins, you know I would but I’m completely ensconced on the sofa with my books, my tea, my highlighter and I only have 90 minutes left to study before I have to write a paper and take a test.”
She tries not to accidentally spill her stress on him, but you can hear the strain in her voice. I’m not getting anything done listening to this conversation, but I have to see who will blink first. The ball is in my son’s court now.
“That’s a long time! You’re going to miss the cutest photo ever. Little Missy is lying on my belly and looking so cute. Pleeeeeease? Besides, with you working and doing grad school all the time… I. feel. neglected…”
“Neglected,… neglected,… neglected,…” echoes off the Alps.
Ouch. The boy is good. Yikes. Game, set, match.
My wife caves as the mother guilt rushes in and steals 10 minutes of the 90 she has left to study. She moans, rises, finds her iPhone, takes the notably unremarkable picture, and then moves her entire study nest out of earshot, installs earplugs, and goes back to work.
Writers talk all the time about the swarm of distractions that come into our every moment at the keyboard. Even right now, as I type with a small amount of inspiration, I’m thinking:
“I think I have to pee. Or am I hungry? Or maybe both? I should just get up, go to the loo, make a nice eggy breakfast, and THEN I’ll be able to sit still and finish this piece.”
And that, in theory, could be exactly what I need to do to produce Pulitzer prize winning paragraphs. In reality, it’s precisely what I just returned from 10 minutes ago. Except it was frozen pancakes from Trader Joe’s.
“Beloved?” My wife’s voice somehow reaches me in the other end of the house where I’m writing.
“Yes, Dear?!?”, I yell without thinking.
“Dear” is a weird thing to yell because it doesn’t sound like you truly think of the other person as “dear” when you have to scream it through sound barriers. I’m convinced that our neighbors must think we’re an old deaf couple as we’re definitely “yellers.”
“Would you be a DEAR and bring me my glasses? I left them downstairs next to the sofa.”
My wife’s a trained singer and stage actress so she knows how to yell well. I can hear every word and it’s too late to pretend I can’t.
Truth be told, this is not really a request.
I have 3 choices here, one of which has already expired. The first (and best) choice would have been to pretend I couldn’t hear my operatic diva when she first canvased to see if I was in earshot. If I’d had my wits about me, I would have silently pretended I couldn’t hear. Too late for that.
My second choice is to essentially say, “No.” We all know that’s not the right answer, right? I’ve tried all kinds of them, and none of my no’s work.
“Oh, sweetie I can’t. I just twisted my ankle and it’s on ice right now!”
Or, “I’m on the phooooone.”
The only one that has worked on occasion is, “I’m in the loo, can it wait?”
The latter has believability problems as it will mean she will come and find me after she has retrieved whatever it is I’m supposed to bring her. So I damn well better be in the loo when that happens, and if I’ve got to be there, I might as well get up and bring her whatever she’s needing.
No. All of the “no’s,” essentially communicate one of the following:
A) “I don’t love you
B) “I don’t have time for you”
C) “I’m too busy to value our relationship”
D) “I don’t care about your needs.”
E) All of the Above.
No. Over time, in the interests of a healthy marriage, I’ve learned my time is not really my own. Particularly when I’m called to assist in the delivery of goods to my wife.
My third and only “choice” is to stop what I’m doing, find her glasses, and bring them to her. It’s been suggested I need the exercise.
Even when I’m trying to write…
[to be continued…]