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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Husband? What Husband?

(First off, a quick program note.

While I’ll be keeping up my every-weekday-once-on-weekends writing schedule, baseball season is upon us. Or almost upon us. Or approacheth. Something.

Anyway, some days I’ll be penning posts over at Bugs & Cranks, as opposed to over here. For you baseball fans, I’ll post a link the next day, so you can catch up. And for you non-fans… well, you’ll get the occasional day off, then. Enjoy it. Work a crossword. Take a nap. Write a poem or something. Knock yourself out.

Like yesterday, for instance, when I didn’t write here but I did offer Like Father, Like Ken? over at B&C. Or today, when I more or less contradicted everything in that piece with So Much for Symmetry.

Normally, that’d count as two full days of writing. But I figure the contradiction cancels one post out, so here I am tonight. Plus, I had to explain the whole sordid thing somewhere. And what kind of a post would this be if it cut off right now?

If you answered ‘A typical one, but mercifully shorter‘, then I’m giving you the finger right now. For the rest of you, I’m simply pointing further down the page, where the latest bit of fluff is waiting to be read. Carry on, then.)

There are times — lots and lots of times — when I’m glad that my wife isn’t nearly the smartass that I am. Like this Monday afternoon, for instance, at about a quarter past two.

“On Monday, I was off work for President’s Day. Or Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, or George Washington’s wedding day, or Chester A. Arthur’s bar mitzvah anniversary, or whatever the hell we’re supposed to be celebrating in the middle of February.”

On Monday, I was off work for President’s Day. Or Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, or George Washington’s wedding day, or Chester A. Arthur’s bar mitzvah anniversary, or whatever the hell we’re supposed to be celebrating in the middle of February. Me, I was celebrating being home from work. Dead presidents had very little to do with it, really.

What did have to do with it was sitting on the couch wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt of questionable cleanliness, eating stale Chee-tos and watching Futurama reruns in the middle of a Monday afternoon. Which is what I was doing, and enjoying quite immensely. Until the dog walker arrived.

The dog walker comes on Mondays. To walk the dog, as her job title might imply. She always arrives in the afternoon, when I’m at work, so I’ve never met her before. And it’s my wife who always leaves her a check, or calls to cancel when one of us will be home. Except for Monday, when apparently, she didn’t.

So there I am, sloppy, slovenly and orange-fingered, watching cartoons, when I look through the window and see some strange lady standing on the porch. She was facing away from me, talking on a cell phone, sort of whispering into it. I put two and two together and figured she was probably the dog walker, but didn’t really have time to make myself presentable. So I didn’t. And just in case she wasn’t there to walk the dog — that is, in case she didn’t have a key to let herself in — I scrunched down on the couch out of sight, so I wouldn’t have to answer the doorbell. And I was sure to crunch my Chee-tos very softly for the next few bites.

A few minutes later, I heard the key in the front door and she stepped in to say hello. I wasn’t much of a pretty sight — rumpled sweats, unshaven cheeks and orange stains on my pants, and probably the couch. Quite possibly the dog, for that matter. We exchanged greetings, she introduced herself as the dog walker, and then said something rather curious:

I saw a car in the driveway, so I called your wife to ask if I should walk the dog today. She said her husband was home, to just come on in.

I assured her that she’d done the right thing, and that the dog could certainly use a walk. And maybe a quick hose-down, to get the Chee-to dust off her coat. The lady retrieved the leash, buckled up the pooch, and they left me to my puffed cheese snacks and cartoon marathon. It was while they were gone that I realized once again how lucky I am that my wife isn’t a smartass like me.

Because I thought about what would happen if the roles were reversed. If I were the one signing the checks, and talking with the walker, and I was the only one she’d met in the past. And if my wife were home one Monday, slumming it up — not that she ‘slums it up’ quite as entirely as I do, but still — and I’d gotten a desperate call from the walker, after she’d seen a car in the drive and a strange woman lying on the living room couch. Because I know what I’d say to her:

Oh, sure, please go ahead and walk the dog. But I don’t know anything about the car or the woman — I don’t have a wife. Thanks so much, bye! *click*

Now, I don’t know what would happen if one of us told the dog walker that there’s a stranger in the house with the mutt she’s about to escort. Would she call 911? Might she barge in and try to strangle us with a poop bag? Would said poop bag be used already, or fresh from the box? I don’t know those answers. I only know that, as a card-carrying smartass, I would have been obligated to find out.

Luckily, my wife carries no such card. So I was spared all of that, and had only to deal with being caught by a stranger at my scraggly, sweatpantsed, cheese-fingered worst. Of course, I was in my own house, with no expectations of visitors at the time. That dog lady’s damned lucky I had pants on at all.

To her credit, she walked the dog, brought her back, collected her check and left without so much as a derisive snort or a ‘Good god, man, how do you live like that?‘ And I went back to my cartoons and Chee-tos until six o’clock or so, when I cleaned up a bit and shaved and put on a pair of jeans before the missus got home. Not that she hasn’t seen me at my worst before, of course. But I didn’t want to make her too jealous of me on my Monday off, when she had to work a whole day.

Because she’s not especially a smartass. But if I really cheese her off, next time she’ll sell me out. And nobody wants to be strangled with a poop bag. Used, or otherwise.

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