My buddy Stan called.
A nighttime call from Stan always signals a crisis but he caught me brushing my teeth before bed, so it could not be serious, for that he would wait until after 3:00 am.
“Daphne is mad at me,” he said.
I sighed. “What did you do now?”
“Why do you assume I did something?”
“Was it something she did?”
I continued my nightly rituals as we talked.
“Then who does that leave?” I asked as I locked the doors.
“Okay, it was something I did.”
“I left a dirty dish in the sink.”
“No and about it. Daphne just freaked out. I think she is going crazy.”
I knew there was more to the story but I had a few things to do before bed, so I let him ramble. One of my chores was to start the Roomba, the little vacuum robot who cleans our floors at night.
The little guy is brilliant. He has our entire house mapped in his head. He cleverly avoids the basement stairs and even knows when chairs have been moved so he can adjust accordingly.
On the other hand, he is not so smart. He runs the same erratic route night after night, beginning in the kitchen and rarely making it into the living room before his batteries run out. I know there is a way to train him to begin where he left off but I am too lazy to research it and therefore have to accept his behavior.
“Why not take the dish out of the sink,” I asked, “and put it in the dishwasher?”
“Exactly, that is what I keep telling her.”
“Why don’t you do it?”
“At this point, it would be awkward,” he told me.
“Remember that gig I had in Africa last March?”
Stan works on enormous machines. The earth gobbling excavator he repaired in Uganda is among the world’s largest.
“I put the dish in the sink before I left.”
“And she refused to touch it for six months?” I asked.
“Yeah, I mean who does that?”
“I know two people.”
“I don’t understand.”
“So what do I do?”
“Put the dish in the dishwasher.”
“Sometimes you are no help at all.”
An hour later, Daphne woke me out of a deep sleep.
“What did you tell Stan?”
“I don’t want to get in the middle of this.”
“You already are.”
“Okay then, I know this about more than just a dirty dish. It is about being valued and respected but you two are who you are. You are both stubborn, so instead of waging an epic battle of wills, why not just flip a coin over who moves the dish.”
“I have a better idea,” she said.
“You move the dish.”
“If you come over here and move the dish, it will save our marriage.”
This time it was me who hung up.
As I lay in the dark, struggling to fall sleep, I could hear the Roomba straining in the dining room.
Every once in a while, the little guy gets himself trapped behind my wife’s quilt rack. As he cleans under it, he nudges the inner legs so that the outer legs move to block his exit path.
It totally confuses him.
I suppose I could get up to help and maybe even one of these days, I could secure the rack to avoid the situation. I could also figure out how to train him to clean the living room – but oh well. I might go south this winter. Perhaps I will do it when I return.
Meanwhile, I struggle to sleep.