''Guess what we're going to do!''
Sentences that begin like that, when uttered by an overly exuberant spouse, never end well. I tried to disappear into the cushions of my La-Z-Boy. It's a tactic that rarely works.
''We're finally going to paint the bedroom,'' Terry enthused.
She grinned as if waiting for applause. I fiddled with my glasses. ''What's wrong with the paint?''
''It was freshly painted just before I moved in.''
''When was that?''
I ticked off my fingers. Wiggled some toes. ''Seventeen or eighteen years ago, I think.''
Terry nodded. ''And?''
I didn't understand the question.
Terry pointed down the hallway. ''Have you looked at those walls?''
''Of course I have. Blue's my favorite color. I can't sleep in a room that's not blue. So why change it?''
She grabbed my hand, pulled me from the easy chair, and led me to the bedroom. ''Look.''
I did. And blinked. ''I can't sleep in a room that's green. When did you paint the room green?''
''I didn't. It's been mint since you moved in 18 years ago. Well, more like the shade of dried toothpaste now.''
I surveyed the walls. ''Wow. It's like seeing a brand new room. Now we don't have to paint.''
Terry blocked my escape with a home decorating magazine. ''It says here that interior rooms should be repainted every six to 10 years. It's been 18. These walls need painting.''
''Already? I was just warming up to the new green color.''
Terry sighed. ''Why don't men notice things? How can you never have noticed the color, and now can't see that the walls are scuffed beyond proper cleaning?''
I raised my hand. ''I can answer that.'' I ran into my home office, rummaged around, and came back with my own magazine article.
''It's science,'' I said. ''See, a guy named Michael Gurian wrote a book called 'What Could He Be Thinking? How a Man's Mind Really Works.' It says here that a man's brain 'takes in less sensory detail than a woman's, so he doesn't see or even feel the dust and household mess in the same way.'''
Terry shook her head. ''So what color are your office walls?''
''Um ... blue, right? I can't work in a room that isn't blue.'' I shrugged. ''So are we going to paint the bedroom blue again?''
''It never was blue. No, I was thinking of a nice periwinkle. Like this.''
I looked at her magazine. ''Purple? I can't sleep in a purple room.''
''It's not purple. It's periwinkle. That's almost blue.''
''Oh. I can sleep in a room that's blue. That's why I liked the bedroom when it was blue.''
''It was never ... Forget it. Let's go to the hardware store to get some paint and rollers.''
I perked up. ''I'll rent a power paint sprayer. A big one. And an air compressor. Give me 10 minutes with one of those babies, and I'll paint everything purple.''
Terry closed her eyes. I heard her counting softly. Perhaps how many rooms she'd let me spray.
She opened her eyes. ''So you'll be at work all day tomorrow?''
''It'll just be easier to wait until you're gone, and then I'll ... Never mind. You won't notice, anyway.''
As I cozied back into my easy chair, I noticed that, once again, I'd wriggled out of an unnecessary work project. And she thinks I don't notice things.
Just as I was about to resume my nap, a question jolted me upright. ''Terry, what color ARE my office walls, anyway?''
I can't be expected to notice everything.
---- Share work avoidance tactics with Cole at email@example.com or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.