Loaner spouse good for house, bad for the husband

Burt's Eye View

In retrospect, loaner spouses was a bad idea.

I pitched the plan years ago in this space. In my defense, I was single at the time.

I based the theory on trips to my auto mechanic. There’s only so long that you can ignore the shakes and shudders, the groans and moans, the passing of gas and odd odors. In my Jeep, I mean, not me. A few bruises are to be expected after some 160,000 miles of aging.

When they hustle my Jeep onto the auto surgeon’s rack and open her up, the news is nearly fatal for my credit card.

But here’s the cool part — while my broken down Jeep heals at the car hospital, Mike the mechanic sends me home with a loaner car.

The Jeep may stop, but life doesn’t. I still need to get to work (especially now), there are errands to run and family to ferry. Loaner cars are life-savers.

“If mechanics send us home with loaner cars,” I mused, “why don’t human hospitals send us home with loaner spouses when our legally binding ones are held overnight for repairs?”

The spouse may be stalled, but life motors on. Chores still need to get done — shoveling snow, walking the dog, knowing the secret to folding a fitted sheet.

So picture this — the surgeon steps into the waiting room and says, “Mrs. Jones, your husband came through surgery just fine. We need to keep him overnight for observation, so we’re going to send Herbie, our loaner husband, home with you. He’ll take out the garbage and vacuum the carpet.”

Or, “Mr. Smith, the operation was a success, but your wife needs to stay here for two more days. We’re supplying Joann, our loaner wife, to take care of your laundry.”

“But doctor, I do the laundry. She changes the oil in the cars.”

“Let me make a note on your chart. You’ll need loaner wife Trudy then. She’s also great with plumbing.”

I considered my plan pure genius — when I was single. But now that I am the husband, I realize I don’t need that kind of competition.

At my age, there’s always something on my body that needs to be fixed. If I pass a physical with flying colors, my doctor seems dejected. “Why don’t we send you in for some tests?” she’ll say. “I’m sure we can find a problem then.”

But add a loaner spouse to the mix and I’d never get out of hospital lockup. My wife would pack me off to the ER and tell the doctor, “He shakes and shudders, groans and moans, passes gas and odd odors.” She’d shrug her shoulders. “A few bruises are to be expected after some 60 years of aging.”

While the medical team clamped me to a bed and fastened me to monitors, my wife would say, “I’ll just pop over to the loaner floor for a minute to see if Herbie is available. He can finish installing the new kitchen cabinets he started when you had that kidney stone.”

If I’d try to check myself out the next day, my wife would say, “I think he has the measles.”

The doctor would study the red spots. “Those look like dots of red fingernail polish.”

“Better safe than sorry,” my sweetie would coo. “You keep him here for another 24 hours. I need Herbie to panel the hallway today.”

It retrospect, it was a very bad idea.

— Send Cole loaner columns at burtseyeview @tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.

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