On the Road Again with Someone Who Looks Like My Husband
By Maureen Hardegree
When you’ve been married for over twenty years, you probably think you have learned all there is to know about your spouse. If you’re like me, you have the list of foods he dislikes committed to memory and have made good on your promise to never serve them again. You understand what makes him laugh and what makes him want to pull his hair out—most often computers. And you have come to learn he will sigh in exasperation every time you remind him you aren’t capable of functioning in the morning without drinking at least one cup of dark roast coffee. A recent trip to visit our daughter, however, showed me that perhaps I don’t know my husband as well as I thought I did.
Traveling with a child was different. The mission was to arrive with as little drama as possible, at least that was always my mission. When our daughter was very small, a new coloring book, a fresh box of sharp crayons, the Winnie the Pooh song tape, and a fun sized bag of M&Ms were all we needed to survive the whining point. Our daughter’s whining point hit approximately six hours in, whether the trip was an eight hour total to reach Grandma or ten hours to visit Mickey and Minnie at their place in Orlando. Problem was our child wasn’t the only one whining. I discovered to my shock and my daughter’s delight that her father would quickly join in and amplify the whining to make her laugh. Silly me, I assumed if we were traveling as a couple of empty nesters I wouldn’t have to put up with annoying noises emanating from my almost fifty-year old husband. I was wrong. Let me also add, that an adult can repeat the name of a town without whining, but nevertheless in an equally irritating manner for miles just because he likes the way it sounds. There is a reason my husband’s two best friends say the character of Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory reminds them of him. “Tam-paaah. Tam-paaaaaaaah. Tam-paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.” For miles, he did this.
Over the years I’ve watched my husband try new things and like them, such as rootbeer, cucumbers, and smart phones. During this trip, he decided it was the perfect time to find new glasses, which is what everyone traveling to Florida does, right? They look for eyewear. He wanted our daughter to help him find fashionable frames that would, and I quote, “bring his sexy back.” To which, our daughter said, “Eew” then shuddered. She did attempt to help him, and he tried on the trendier square and rectangular frames. After about all of thirty seconds analyzing his reflection in the mirror, he sighed loudly and asked us to find something more rounded. Rounded, however, did not mean round. It meant oval, like the lens shape he’s currently wearing and has been wearing for over ten years. Yes, the frames he liked are remarkably similar to the ones he’s currently wearing.
Another surprise, there are limits to my budget conscious husband’s frugality not related to our daughter. Over the years, I’d come to believe our child was the only person who could convince him to sidestep his tendency toward penny-pinching (car, out-of-state college, expensive summer dance intensives). But no. He easily agreed to pay an extra couple bucks per night to stay in the hotel I prefer over the cheaper one that allows pets. Why, you ask? Barking. Lots and lots of barking that kept us awake the last time we stayed at the cheaper hotel. Sleeping is one of his pleasures in life, probably in part because it’s free. Sleeping must now take precedence over saving money. Or maybe this man isn’t really my husband.
Speaking of sleep, during this trip I also discovered that my healthy husband could take multiple naps in one day and then be shocked when he found himself in an insomniac state after midnight. I always knew he liked to nap during any possible down time, something I discovered while in labor. I never realized he would nap three times in one day without being sick. During this trip, the man who looks like my husband was a sleeping machine. He took a little cat nap after breakfast Saturday morning. He snoozed again in the early afternoon while daughter and I were watching the Olympic figure skating gala. He took a third siesta in the late afternoon to early evening before the Spring Dance Show we attended. Needless to say, he couldn’t sleep that night and ended up watching My Favorite Brunette, an old, black and white Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour movie. And this inability to sleep stunned him. The man I married is no intellectual slouch.
Another unexpected event that occurred during our trip was discovering my husband’s former motto free is always good has conditions. For years, my husband supplemented his personal supply of soap and shampoo by collecting all the complimentary toiletries hotels offer. He goes so far as to take the used soap from the shower, wrap it in tissue, and shove it into one of the zippered compartments in his luggage before he leaves. But during this trip, he did something he’s never done before. He left the extra shampoo, conditioner and body lotion on the vanity tray next to the sink. He hit his limit on free travel-sized shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. Who knew he had a limit? Not me.
I also was not aware that he could hear while sleeping, since he never heard our child cry in the middle of the night or any strange sounds indicating to me someonemight be breaking into our house. On the way home, the man who looks like my husband appeared to be dozing in the passenger seat, something we’ve established he likes to do. He was snoring, which to me is a good indicator that he’s completely out. Yet, once his eyes were open, somewhere between McDonough and Atlanta, he called me on going over the speed limit while he was snoozing. Apparently, the GPS speeding beep does register with a snoring man even though the cries of his only genetic material do not. If only I’d known, I would’ve disconnected the GPS when I took the wheel and I wouldn’t now be wondering why aliens replaced my husband with this clone.
About The Author
Empty nester Maureen Hardegree is thankful that her husband can still surprise her after twenty years—it makes life interesting. Feel free to visit Maureen’s website ( www.maureenhardegree.com ) and Facebook page to say hello and find updates on signings, events, and upcoming 2014 releases, which include He Haint Heavy, Book Five of the Ghost Handler humorous middle grade/YA series and a self-published time travel romance Now More Than Ever.