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Follow the trail of dirty socks and shirts home

My wife left me. But only for two weeks.

“Do you miss me?” she asked in one of our nightly phone calls.

“Absolutely,” I said, while muting the TV. I didn’t want her to overhear that I was watching wrestling, which apparently is “stupid” and “ridiculous” and “without redeeming value.”

“Are you fixing nutritious suppers for yourself.”

“The best,” I assured her, careful not to rustle the Taco Bell bag. “Tonight, I’m having vegetables, chicken and rice.”

“That’s a relief,” she said. “I was afraid that you’d run off to McDonald’s for fast food.”

“Good one,” I chuckled. “Nope, no McDonald’s here.” But had she asked last night…

“Tell me how much you miss me,” she said.

“I wake up in the middle of the night and reach for you, but all I find on your side of the bed is a pile of dirty clothes.”

“What?”

“I know, a couple bad habits are cropping up,” I confessed. “I stopped throwing my laundry on the floor where it belongs.”

“You mean in the laundry hamper, don’t you?”

I paused. “I could try that, I suppose. But since you’re not here, I don’t turn on too many lights.”

“What does that have to do with laundry?” she said.

“As soon as I get home from work, I start shedding my dress clothes,” I said. “The socks and shirts mark a clear trail from the back door to the bedroom.”

“You leave them there?”

“It is a safety issue,” I said. “With the lights off, I could stub my toe. But if I stay on the fabric road, I drop into bed pain-free.”

“Or,” she said, “You could turn on the lights.”

“But there’s no one here to turn them off again when I’m nestled under the covers with my bowl of Alpha-Bits.”

“Excuse me?”

“Midnight snack. I like to get a head start at 8 p.m.”

“I thought you were eating healthy meals.”

“Read the box. Alpha-Bits contain 12 essential — ESSENTIAL — minerals and vitamins.” I checked when I stopped by the grocery on the day she left.

She groaned. “At least wash the sheets when you do the laundry.”

I scratched my head. “I, uh, don’t know how to operate the new washing machine.”

“Figure it out. You have a college degree, don’t you?”

“Not in soap suds and fabric cycles. On, I understand. Off, I get. But what’s the difference between delicate and permanent press? Or super wash and casual? Do I have to dress up to do laundry?”

“I suppose you haven’t washed dishes, either?”

“I’m working on that,” I said. “We don’t have a dog, so I’ve been setting the plates on the back porch for raccoons to clean. They’re pretty tidy critters, you know.”

A long period of silence followed. “Hello? Hello? Are you still there?”

“I’m still here,” she said. “But obviously, I need to be there. I’ll cut this visit short. I’ll start for home in 30 minutes. Don’t touch anything else.”

“I was sweeping that pile of bills and documents that was giving you fits into the trash. I’ll have the table cleaned off by the time you get here.”

“Don’t. Touch. Anything. Else. I’m on my way.”

My wife left me to visit relatives. But I always know how to entice her into coming home early. I think it’s my charm.

Clean up with Cole at burtseye view@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page of Facebook or www.burtonwcole.com.

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