Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Understanding Abby

Let there be no ambiguity: rupture is imminent. The bladder is about to burst. Our trusty water bottle, hard working and completely reliable, until now, is about to undergo a leaky death. A tear has appeared in its side, a chink in its armour, and its working its way closer and closer to the soft vulnerable inner flesh where water is held.

The question is, how to deal with it.

Abby and I were both sitting in bed this afternoon, relaxing after our trek, reading our respective books. I raced breathlessly through the final pages of my murder mystery, pretending I hadn't figured out the plot 200 pages previous. I set it aside, and decided to snuggle with my wife. She's reading a real novel, by Edward Abby, and looked like she needed some comforting. Or some caressing - he is a fairly sexual guy... As I rolled towards her, her radar went off, and her attention, until now so completely engrossed by her book, was suddenly turned to the emergency at hand.

"Stop!", she cried.
"Be careful of the water bottle! It's about to break and spill water all over the bed." She gave me a look like I had just peed all over the toilet seat, deliberately.

I peeked down from my frozen half-turn and saw the water bottle, innocent and oblivious, lying casually next to Abby's legs. She gave me a look of satisfaction, happy to have gotten through, and went back to her reading. I was left to ponder how to snuggle with my wife without making her angry while staying true to my stance that the bottle of water was no immediate threat. I also had to make sure to stay on the water bottle's good side; it was, after all, about to burst. As I pondered how to not pander, it occurred to me that Abby and I had completely different approaches to the soon-to-be-ruptured bladder.

To my way of thinking, there was no thinking. We'd had the thing for months. It was tough as nails. I'd dropped it, poked it, folded it, unfolded it, filled it, emptied it, dozens of times, each, with not a single problem. It hadn't once leaked, not even a drop, and when it eventually did, we'd deal with it. Besides, it was guaranteed. If it broke, we'd bring it back for a free replacement.

To Abby's way of thinking, the water bottle represented a dark, malicious, serious, and dangerous threat. It was liable to go off, at any second, and when it did, it wasn't going to be pretty. It needed to be watched, monitored, kept under tight surveillance at all times. A single moment of laxity could result in complete disaster. Since I first discovered the leak almost a week back, I don't think a second has passed where some part of her brain, on some level, has been on "Water Bottle Alert: Code Red". Where is it now? What's it doing? Has the rip gotten bigger? Can it reach any of my stuff? Her worry center has been put on call, and the only way to calm it, to placate it, to allow it to relax, is to resolve the issue.

Except she'd never do that. Instead, she makes herself continually aware of the despicable demon's whereabouts and intentions, and carefully plots how to be least affected when the inevitable occurs. This way of thinking frustrates my way of thinking to no end. If I were her, and thought as she does, there would be three options.

1. Shoot the damn thing. Put it out of its misery. End the suspense. Cut the tension. No almost-broken water bottle, no almost-wetted bed. Most importantly, no source of worry.

2. Actively alter reality. Move the water bottle. Instead of keeping one eye nervously on it for the next day, week, month (year? It's Reliable, and Dependable...), do something about it. Physically pick it up and place it on the floor, out of harm's way, where it can burst to its heart's delight with no ill effects. Better yet, refer to Option 1.

3. Make ME do something about it. That's what husbands are for. The water bottle has been my responsibility for months now, and until the cursed tear was discovered, the arrangement seemed to be working out very well. Since "The Tear", however, her faith in my water bottle management skills seems to have been entirely eroded. In her eyes, I can no longer be trusted to do "whats' right" with our leaky friend. No more does she believe my claims that the wondrous receptacle can change water to wine, can miraculously survive falls of thousands of metres, unscathed. The water bottle has lost its magic. That said, she also hasn't been willing to make any demands of me, to ask for specific changes in said faith-uninspiring water bottle management skills, to admit she no longer has the trust. "Please keep the almost ruptured water bottle off the bed", or perhaps "Please keep the accident waiting-to-happen away from my stuff". Instead, it's the eye, always the eye.

I suppose the issue might just be that she wants to worry. She gets it honestly: her mother worries incessantly, and the gene seems to have been passed on. Regardless, it baffles me. Isn't NOT worrying better than worrying? Isn't the absence of stress preferable to its presence? I always thought so, but maybe I was wrong. Well, maybe not wrong, more likely just misinformed. What if-

I decided not to worry about it.

The issue resolved to my satisfaction, I carefully completed my rollover, taking care to avoid the twitchy-trigger-finger water balloon, and successfully napped on my beautiful wife's shoulder. As my eyes were closed, I wasn't able to see how she dealt with it, but we all escaped unscathed.


Phillip said...

Congrats to Abby on her ability to train Steve to immediately respond to commands like STOP! There is an old saying that young boys and dogs needs hard sounding names so that when you yell it they understand and respond. That's why Abby has a brother named ZAK. I guess one trains a husband the same way. Thanks for the writing Steve, it was good and I think accurate.

Carey said...

Duct Tape it!

Stephen and Abigail Rideout said...

Ahh, if only duct tape was available. The thing is, we ran out. About 5 months ago.

Anonymous said...

I believe you should showcase said water bottle in your photography. Terraced rice paddies are nice but terraced rice paddies with water bottle tells a much better story.