I’d never seen someone struggle so greatly with a cereal box before. Somehow, my wife had managed to turn the act of cereal pouring into a two-handed job. From my desk in the living room I could see that she had one hand on either side of the box with her arms twisted so drastically around that both her elbows were above her head. She was hunched over the counter leaning slightly to the left – concentrating deeply. Instead of the more common approach of cereal pouring, she had decided to employ her entire body in a violent tremble hoping to coax the Coco-Crispies from box to bowl.
I must have laughed louder than I thought.
“What’s so funny?” she asked over her elbows.
“Lots of people cut the bag open from the middle instead of the corners,” she justified and, in what seemed like a surprising reward for mocking her, flashed me that mischievous smirk that tells me she’s in on all the world’s inside jokes.
Then she grabbed the milk carton from the fridge and proceeded to go through her pre-consumption expiration validation. First, she checked the printed expiration date. “January 20th.” OK.
Next, she twisted the top and inhaled over the open mouth of the container. Usually, I hear, “Does this smell OK?” at which time I smell the milk and confirm that I, like her, think it smells OK. However, the week before I had used a coupon from my “Christmas Coupons for My Husband” coupon book to invoke “One Month of No Milk Smelling.” I had taped it at eye level on the refrigerator door right next to the coupon for “No Rhyming Words for 48 Hours”; I saw her reading it, hoping she had included some fine print about exceptions for midnight snacks.
Finally, she tipped the carton to her lips and slurped at the still suspect milk.
Satisfied that she would not become ill fulfilling her chocolate craving, she sat down to eat.
I turned my attention back to my computer and tried to remember where I had left my thoughts. But I couldn’t escape the sensation that I had just learned something.
Moments later, after I had to remind her about the “No Rhyming Words” coupon posted on the refrigerator (looking at her cereal she had cried out, “Oh no Joe Hoe Low snow.”), I was laughing again as she poured half her cereal down the drain because one of the crispies was white – not the typical brown color associated with the coco portion of Coco-Crispies – and surely meant the cereal was moldy or stale.
I barely convinced her not to induce vomiting.
She was still hungry and I was still laughing when that previously illusive thought crystallized. I don’t love her despite her quirks – and you wouldn’t believe me if I described them all – I love her because of them.
Watching her epic battle with a cereal box reminded me that I don’t enjoy life with her; I enjoy life because of her.
That conclusion, and this laughter, are inescapable.
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