My own personal Heart of Darkness was upon me. I threw my back out and was on some serious pain meds. But excruciating back pain worse than childbirth was nothing compared to the hideous situation I would find myself in last Sunday morning: The Husband was going to Target.
That’s right: he was going on the two-week overdue Target run instead of me, because of silly incendiary wording on the side of my plastic prescription bottle, wording like Danger: May cause extreme drowsiness and DO NOT under any circumstances operate heavy machinery!!! Apparently, in The Husband’s creative mind, a car was a piece of heavy machinery.
“Okay, Honey. That’s fine. You drive, then,” I acquiesced, stifling a yawn. “We’ll just all four go together. We can have fun family time.”
The Husband suppressed an involuntary gasp, as his eyes absorbed my pajama-clad and un-showered appearance.
“Are you out of your mind?” he queried, as I tried five times to get out of my chair, each time resulting in a fresh stabs of scream-inducing back torture. “You are not going to Target. You’re not going anywhere. You will lie here on the couch and get better. I know you’re not used to that, but … wait, what am I saying? It will be just like any other day for you. Minus the bon-bons.”
Ha, ha. The Husband was, of course, right. (About me not going, not about the bon-bons.) I had Tall get me a piece of paper and a pen so I could draw up the list/ map for The Husband.
It was making me depressed to think of The Husband going to The Happiest Place On Earth without me. Plus, to him, it wasn’t THPOE, it was merely a store. It was as if I had handed my unusable ticket to the Philharmonic Symphony to a deaf person—it would never be appreciated or even fully comprehended. Sure, the deaf person would sign thank you and pretend they were happy, but you and I both know it is an inappropriate gift.
The Husband glanced at my list. “Oh, god,” he cringed, “I forgot about you and your list maps.”
That’s right; so what? I write my list in store map form so no back-tracking would be required. This is exactly what I mean by underappreciated and not fully comprehended. “My list will save you time since I did it this way,” I proclaimed confidently, “you’ll be happy I drew it as a store diagram.”
He and Tall left (I told him he had to take at least one kid with him), and I was immediately overcome with the plummeting feeling that he would Buy The Wrong Things. I had given very explicit (read: Virgo) instructions on which type of paper towel to buy, but what if he bought a 50-pack of ones with little bears on them? Ugh. I would be stuck mopping up spills with cutesie smiling-bear visages for the next three months.
Or how about a simple instruction like plain bottled water? Would he purchase Perrier by mistake? “Sweetie,” I imagined myself saying later, “we’ve never, ever, ever, ever, in the history of the world bought sparkling, so why would you buy it today?”
Would he mess up on the most basic thing—Mint Milano cookies? Surely that was self-explanatory. Was it even possible that there was some sort of generic kind that he might buy to save a few bucks, a chocolate impostor cookie packaged similarly but labeled Mint Detroit?
In the end, I worried for no reason. It was true, he did come home with all the wrong products … but then, just as the heavens started to open to release an ominous black downpour of epic emotional proportions, dazzling sunlight blinded me instead as he reached in one of the bags and handed me a beautiful foreign object.
“Us Weekly?” I inquired cheerfully, as I snatched it out of his grasp, eager to read about Cameron Diaz’s latest romance, “I didn’t put that on the list!”
He laughed, the hearty laugh of a wise husband who knows his soul mate well. “I realized that if I screwed up every single item on your list, you’d never even notice as long as you were distracted by trashy celebrity gossip magazines.”
If Joseph Conrad were alive today, he surely would never have finished writing Heart of Darkness because he, too, would have been distracted by the likes of Us Weekly or People. The horror, the horror, indeed.