Things drift around my house like thoughts through an addling mind, unhitched by the faint rumble of some past moment. So, finding a Christmas tree ornament randomly resting on a dresser in the middle of August isn't that unusual around here; neither is what transpired next. Surprised to see it during the dog days of summer, my husband held up the shiny, brass piece and inspected it, as if it's presence there had significance beyond the ridiculous. "1993," he read the date off of it. Then he looked at me, ensconced in bed reading The Liars' Club, which probably held more significance than the ornament, and said, "Did we even know each other in 1993?" He continued closely examining the glimmering tree decoration as if it was a diamond engagement ring from a former suitor. It ignited suspicions and burning questions. "We didn't know each other," he affirmed. "Where'd you get this? Why do you have it?"
Unable to discern if he teasingly badgered me with mock drama or if chance had brought me some real evening entertainment, I paused before saying, "Well, I . . ."
"Seriously," he griped, not letting me answer, still dangling the innocently offensive ornament from his fingertips, "How'd you get this?"
I cleared my throat while he stared me down. "We knew each other in 1993," I firmly stated.
"Are you sure?" he asked, perplexed, dropping his arm to his side. His forehead furrowed, creating a Y-shaped crease between his eyebrows.
"I'm not," he replied, his voice rising.
"I'm sure," I said, "because it's the year we got married."
"Oh," he flatly responded, followed by, "ohhhhh," real low, from the bottom of his throat, punctuated with a timid, "uh-oh."
I find that the best way to manage moments like this is to shut up and let them manage themselves. He tilted his head to the right, without saying anything, and held it in that position for a few seconds. Then he tilted his head to the left, in the same way, like he was tying to shake a memory loose. His mouth moved, but his defense lodged itself in his throat.
"We got married in January," I reminded him. "The first month of the year, which, again, was 1993. There's nothing too confusing about that I don't think."
He did the head tilting thing again, and elevated the ornament, still clasped between his thumb and his index finger, to eye-level. His eyes squinted in the bright glare of his error.
"I was thinking '83," he hesitantly, but, in my opinion, boldly offered. "'83 was a long, long time ago. I got '83 and '93 mixed up in my head."
My turn to tilt my noggin side to side, trying to decide whether or not to counter his claim. In my silence, the moment once again began to manage itself. I returned my glasses to the bridge of my nose, from where I had lowered them so I could peer over the rims. Readjusting my pillows, I held out my hand, into which he reluctantly placed the object of contention. I put it on the bedside table to be rediscovered at a later date. As a final gesture that the moment had ended, I smiled and picked up my paperback and resumed reading.
That's all it took to get his feet scrambling on the unstable foundation.
"We didn't know each other in '83 did we?" he questioned, seemingly suddenly unsure of his calculations.
But since such episodes are not unusual in our home, I suspect I'm the victim of another mock drama designed for my evening entertainment.
(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. She lives in Thomson, GA. E-mail Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her web site, www.IfMama.com.)