Tuesday morning the clock radio, as usual, broke the darkness, rousting me out of bed. I stumbled into the bathroom and cussed my spouse for leaving his shoes in my path.
Then I flicked on the light and stood immobile for several minutes, stunned like a road-dumb doe. Slowly, I got moving, took my shower, dressed, and put on my good-morning mood to go awake my slumbering family; starting with the man whose shoes I wanted to throw out of the second story window.
Like always, I walked into our room, and cheerfully called, "Get up. It's time to rise and shine!"
He didn't move.
A little louder, I teased, "The moon is due in Timbuktu. The evening's nigh in old Shanghai!"
"Get up, get up! The dew is on the buttercup!"
Not a flinch.
"Up, up! The British are coming!"
He didn't even ask if by land or by sea.
A recent meeting of our stubborn minds popped into my head. My husband of 13-plus years had begun frequently throwing the words Harley and motorcycle into random chats. I would say, "The kids have soccer games tonight," and he would reply, "I sure wish I could ride there on my Harley."
Or I suggested, "Let's go see a movie Friday," to which he responded, "Yeah, baby, I know you want to climb on the back of my motorcycle, wrap your arms around me, and feel the wind in your hair."
Putting my foot down about his unhealthy preoccupation, I told him he could have a skin blender under one condition. If he desired to straddle a roaring engine around hairpin curves, he had to increase his life insurance.
He salivated at the possibility. "How much more?"
"So much," I said, "that if you sank your teeth into the asphalt on day one, I would live happily ever after, dripping in diamonds and pearls." Winking at him playfully, I added, "Oh, and tears, of course. But mostly a lot of bling."
He gave me a suspicious glare and accused me of hanging around, trying to outlive him, only for his money. I assured him that I stay for true love. His current policy couldn't buy my affections.
Now, I stood over the bed watching my life-mate's motionless body, my breath wedged between the radio's hum and a brain buzz.
I saw the hump of his torso under the covers. His heavy arms pressed his head between two pillows. My chest felt like a balloon inflating inside of a thimble. Unable to move, I looked for signs of breathing.
I couldn't tell.
I nudged his shoulder and waited. Nothing happened.
I poked his back, harder, panic rising.
Not a budge.
So, I frogged him with my knuckle, putting all my weight behind it.
He sat straight up, startling me, and shouted, "What'd you do that for?! Can't you tell I'm ignoring you!"
I lashed back, "I thought you were dead . . . without enough life insurance!"
"Oh," he said, "you're back to that again. And bruising the corpse, too! There are laws against that, you know!"
"Yes, and ones that protect widows and orphans, too!" Not wanting our anger to escalate into a bad morning, however, I huffed, "I LOVE YOU!," and, thankful to have dodged widowhood, stomped off to wake the children.
Furthermore, I gave the whole motorized bone-grinder issue some thought, and felt guilty. Don't tell my husband, he'll get ideas, but I don't want him to take permanent leave without ramping up on the marrow of life.
The insurance to match couldn't hurt, though.