She arrived home at the usual time. I always check the expression on her face to get a reading on what kind of day she has had, thus helping me determine how to play the remainder of the evening. After 54 years of marriage, I sometimes think I can tell whether I’m in trouble, perhaps for some infraction of which I am blissfully unaware.
However, she can be sneaky, greeting me with a serene countenance, then bushwhacking me later… at a time when I least expect it. This evening was to be one of those times. At peace with the world I settled down in my favorite chair with the daily crossword puzzle. And then it happened.
She: “It did it again!”
Me: “What did what again?”
She: “You know, the car.”
Me: “What about the car?”
She: “That noise.”
Me: “What noise?”
She: “You know, that same noise.”
Me: “No, I don’t know that same noise.”
She: “Well, it did it again.”
I now sense disaster just around the corner. We have had similar conversations before, never with a good outcome, for me at least. But, valiant husband that I am, I will desperately try not to lose my temper over the mystery noise.
Me: “Okay, what did it sound like?”
She: “I don’t know; it was just a noise.”
Me: “Do you mean you heard a noise and you don’t know what it sounded like?” (Patience beginning to waiver).
She: “Why do you always have to pick at everything I say when I tell you about a noise the car makes?”
Me: “Because I can’t figure out what to do until I can understand what you’re talking about.”
She: “I told you, it is that little noise it makes when it goes by the church.”
Me: “When what goes by the church?”
She: “There you go, getting smart-mouthed again!”
Aha, a clue! It is a little noise, and she hears it when she goes by the church. Do cars pray, I thought? And, if they do, what language do they pray in? This may be a breakthrough in marriage relations, auto diagnostics and a new spiritual dimension yet unheard of in the auto repair business.
Me: “Which church?”
She: “You know, the church!”
Heavy emphasis on the word church, as if that will give me a clue. Now I am fighting two battles at once, noise and location with spiritual overtones. I sense I am going to lose this verbal exchange without even understanding what it is about.
She: “Why do I always have to explain every little thing in detail to you? Can’t you just accept what I tell you?”
Me: (Strongly considering retreat at this point). “Honey, I have to at least have a clue as to what kind of noise you’re talking about if I’m going to fix it.”
She: “Look, I’ve told you once and I’m not going to tell you again, I don’t know anything about cars. Why don’t you drive the car and see for yourself what I’m talking about?”
Me: “Okay, I will! At least I will be smart enough to know what kind of noise the car is making.” (Bad choice of words… evening ruined).
The next day I took the car to the repair shop.
He: “What kind of a noise did you say it is making?”
Me: “Well, sort of a funny noise, you know, when I was going by the church…”