Many years ago I was visited by a fairy. “The man you will marry,” she said, “will be kind and loving, handsome and smart. He will help with the children, send you flowers, and not watch football all day. He will support your work, return movies before late fees, and lie convincingly about your weight.”
“Wow,” I said, “this sounds really great. But you’re a fairy so I’m sure there has to be a catch.”
“Just a small one,” she replied with a twinkle in her eye, “every night, after you have crawled into bed, just as you are saying a prayer of thankfulness for the man that God has given to you, you will be surrounded by the most hideous stench known to man.”
“Oh,” I said, “Just a smell.”
“No, no, a stench dear, stench.”
I shrugged, “Just for a minute, right?”
The twinkle turned into a gleam of delight, “No, no, dear . . . all night.”
“Well,” I said cheerfully, for my glass was half full, “How bad could it be?”
Now I know.
Every night the routine is the same. And every night I am the unwitting dupe at the scene of the crime. Yes, it’s true, all nights begin as fresh and clean as the last, for, as I have said, my glass is half full. The lights go out, I cuddle into my warm covers, and just as I lean over to kiss the man of my dreams a foul stench fills the air.
“Ugh! That’s awful!” I exclaim.
“What?” He asks innocently as though he could not imagine what was causing me such distress.
“What do you mean, what?” My rising indignation is only exceeded by my anger. In my mind, he who dealt it should therefore have smelt it.
Now he’s laughing. I cannot imagine what about this scene is so funny. Some light must be going on in an uncharted region of his male brain . . . likely the same part that watches W.W.F. in its underwear.
“It is bad, isn’t it?” Tears of joy are streaming down his cheeks. I know this, even in the dark because I can hear him laughing and wiping his nose.
This I just don’t understand, I am not having fun. I am writhing, trying desperately to put some distance between myself and the unseen cloud descending on my head. He, on the other hand, has not laughed this hard since someone invented pretend snot. We are breathing the same air, lying in, basically the same spot and yet what for me is a runner up for the elephant dung pile appears to be the source of my husband’s pride and joy. I did ask him, once, how he could be so pleased with himself. “I made it.” He said, with a face so full of childlike glee it was hard to be angry. But I was.
“Puleeze!” I said, “make a dresser or an armoire or a spoon rest. Share that with me I will gush with delight. Why, oh why, can you not use the bathroom? You were just there. We have a fan, an exhaust fan! It’s state of the art! Just a short trip down the hall and we could all sleep peacefully and dream of scented flower meadows. But no, instead you wait until there is no escape. I’m under the covers, my slippers are off, the floor is cold and I’m almost asleep. That’s right, sleep, because this is the bedroom! Why do you do it? Why? Why? Why?”
“I’m comfortable.” He says and rolls over, a smile on his face as he drifts into dreamland.