“I want you to promise me something,” she said.
I was preparing for my annual ordeal of washing the storm windows and was not in the mood for promises.
“What?” I asked.
“Promise you will not swear.”
She knows I swear creatively whenever I wash the windows. It is just something I do. It is who I am.
“Look,” I told her, “we moved to the country so I could swear as loudly as I wanted.”
She shook her head no.
“Go to town if you don’t want to hear me,” I told her.
Again she shook her head no.
“Even if I were in town,” she explained, “I would know you are swearing.”
“I promise,” I said, placing my hand over my heart, “if you go to town, I will not swear.”
“Pretend I’m not.”
“Why can’t you control your temper?”
I didn’t say a thing. I simply waited for her to leave. What I would have said had she listened is that the old aluminum track windows on our house were designed by Satan himself.
Many consider them his best work.
Face it, aluminum track windows were a fad that lasted only as long as it took the public to realize that the only people who could work them were the people who sold them.
With one exception.
The windows on our house never worked: even for the sales rep. Currently, every storm window is jammed. It is not that they refuse to move, it is just that if you want them to slide up, they will fall down and if you want them to come down, they will only go up.
Despite the fact that I have managed to take them down and put them up every year, it still takes an entire morning to figure out how they come apart and all of the afternoon to get them back together.
Contrary to what a rational person might believe, putting track windows together is NOT the reverse of taking them apart. It is an entirely new branch of physics. One that will never be fully understood.
But every spring and every fall, the job gets done – but not without swearing nor injury. My wife knows this and despite her protests, she knows to be somewhere else while the windows are washed.
And just as I came around the house after cleaning the last window, she pulled into the driveway.
“I bet you swore all afternoon,” she accused.
“Not once,” I said with all the sincerity I could muster.
“Don’t you lie to me, Mister!!”
I let it go… and headed for the garage to put the squeegee and ladder away.
A few minutes later she called from her sewing room.
“What?” I yelled back.
“Have you put your cleaning stuff away?”
“This window is streaked and I refuse to look at streaks all winter.”
“Gotcha,” she shouted in triumph, “you can’t lie to me!”