Sunday, October 28, 2007

What Really Happened

This story is called One Small Step for Mankind, One Giant Leap for Tom & Me.

Back from my abbreviated walk yesterday evening, I was happily downloading photos. My cell phone rang. It was Tom. He had just arrived at Safeway. If I would leave in ten minutes and call him from the parking lot, he would be ready to go.

Exactly 13 minutes later I pulled into the parking lot. I called and got no answer. So I hauled myself out of the Ford Nebulous and entered another version of hell. I found Tom in the wine aisle, oblivious to the world, holding a Wine Spectator. Five bottles of wine were in the cart. "I just have to find ONE more," he assured me. That way, we'd save 10%.

I saw that Sofia was on sale, so I jerked a 4-pack off the top shelf and plunked it in the cart. That would count as number six. Tom smiled but continued looking.

Me: Do we need anything else I can get? Paper towels? Toilet paper? Those are the things I feel expert at.

We didn't. So I let him be and walked up front to the Halloween candy display. All the recent "healthy Halloween treat" articles flashed through my mind–but too late. My hand chose a giant bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for Wednesday night. I dodged my way back to the wine aisle, and there was Tom, still consulting the Wine Spectator. I began to get impatient. He was holding a bottle of Chateau St. Jean Fumé Blanc, a wine I'm not crazy about. I expressed my distaste and was instantly sorry, realizing that he'd now need another 15 minutes.

Tom: Are you sure you don't like it? The Wine Spectator gives it a pretty good rating.

Me: Oh, let's get it and go!

Tom: Wait, wait ... let's take a look at these Australian wines ...

Me: Tom! The Fumé Blanc is fine! You can drink it and I can drink Sofia.

Up front there were 3 registers open and 26 people in line.

Tom: What's going on here? It wasn't like this when I first walked in. Let's leave!

Me, looking at the wine and thinking of the time spent: "Let's leave!" Are you crazy? No! We've been here for an hour!

Tom: Are you mad at me?

Me, sweetly: No!
Then, deciding to add a thoughtful suggestion: But maybe next time you can double or triple the time you think you'll need!

I hate to be the one who comes off as a callous person. Believe me, anyone who knows me in person will agree that I'm reasonable and understanding. But right before dinner–especially if I'm starving and the house feels like an igloo and it's getting late–this is my bad, very bad, time of day.

We put up the groceries. Then I shut the door and sat down at my computer to try to pick up where I had left off two hours before. But I couldn't recapture the carefree Saturday night feeling I had had. I felt kind of rotten. I knew that Tom would be feeling bad for hours, maybe days–that's the way he's always been.

A minute or two later, Tom opened the door behind me and walked into the room. I tensed up. He set a little glass plate of thick-cut tortilla chips and salsa* on my desk. "Would you like some wine?" he asked.

* Not just any salsa, but Happy Girl Kitchen Co. certified organic spicy fresh heirloom tomato salsa (from the farmers' market).