My wife yelled from the kitchen, “You took the last of the milk!”
She has accused me of many things but for once she was right.
I quickly explored my options for denial, but this was a tough one. I did indeed drink the last of the milk before slipping the empty carton back into the refrigerator.
It happened during a moment of madness.
I had taken a foray into the forbidden realm of pepperoni pizza and shortly thereafter needed something, anything, to quench the fire. The refrigerator was close, so I went for the milk.
That was on Wednesday.
This was Friday.
I don’t know how things work around your house but around here we have an iron rule that says whoever takes the last of anything, replaces it. Which explains why a quarter inch of milk had been sloshing around the bottom of the carton for the better part of a week.
Neither of us would dare touch it.
To do so meant a trip to the Quickie-Mart. No big deal. However, we are country people and any trip into town drags a long tail of errands behind it.
Like depositing the 85¢ dividend check from the electric co-op.
Or picking up cat litter.
Or waiting in line at the DMV to buy tabs for the trailer we never use.
These are things that neither of us are willing to do, so we avoid them by never taking the last of anything.
At first blush this may seem odd because I love my wife and would move heaven and earth for her- but neither heaven, nor earth, nor love covers a trip to the DMV.
It didn’t use to be this way.
I would do little things for her, and she would do little things for me – but with each passing day those little things accumulated more and more weight until after years had passed even the smallest of things became a test of love.
Now she tests me by expecting little things, and I test her with similar expectations – but the real test comes when we expect the exact same thing from each other – like going to town on errands.
So I ask myself, “how much do I love her?”
Then I ask, “Hey, wait a minute, how much does she love me?”
But the more I think about this, the more I think I shouldn’t be thinking about this and guilt overwelms me.
As I step into the kitchen to talk it over, I catch her stuffing a cereal box into the kitchen trash bin.
The bin is already full. To cram the box in, she has folded it as small as she possibly could and jammed it down into the bin as hard as she possibly could, thus making the bag almost impossible to pull out.
We both do this because of another iron household rule that says whoever fills the last of the kitchen trash takes it out to the cart.
She looks up, guilty as hell.
“What?” she says, “it’s not that full.”
She knows it is.
“Why don’t you just take the trash outside?” I say.
She ponders this for awhile and then a big smile sweeps across her face.
“No,” she says triumphantly, “you can take out the trash on your way to get milk.”