I just sent my husband the ultimate guilt text. I know I shouldn’t do shit like this, but I did it anyway.
- ‘My phone just dinged, telling me I got a new text and I got excited because it might be you, but it wasn’t you. It was a reminder for physical therapy tomorrow. It wasn’t anybody. Not really.’
I thought, when I was writing it, that it would make him laugh. He laughs at existential angst. He reads Nietzsche. He does. I can’t stand Nietzsche. I tried to start a book by Nietzsche again the other day.
I’m still unpacking books that I’d put into storage back in June when we got new flooring and had to pack up all our bookshelves, all six of them, to get them out of the way. I haven’t been as conscientious about putting books back onto the shelf afterward as I was about packing them away when I found out my mother was coming for a visit and could possibly look at all of those titles. ‘A Natural History of the Senses’ by Diane Ackerman? It has a naked body on the cover. I just didn’t want my mom looking at that in my house. I loved that kind of book, but I couldn’t picture my mother knowing that. And there were titles my husband had added like, ‘On Being and Nothingness’ by Jean-Paul Sartre. Really, if I pull that book out and read it, I imagine that I’d follow right in the footsteps of Robin Williams, minus all the sweet and funny stuff he gave to the world. Nope. Didn’t want my mom thinking about that title either.
When I put the Nietzsche book back up on the shelf, I found an old photo of me in it, a photo my husband had taken, one he’d had on his desk for seven or eight years until I stopped resembling it in any way shape or form. I was cute back then. I really was. What the hell happened? And why the hell was I ever on a diet when I looked like that? So I took a stab at reading Nietzsche again, seeing as how my photo had resided there for who knows how long. Big mistake.
The man hated women. He hated any kind of spirituality. Worst of all, he wrote whole tomes about thinking. How do you do that? What is there to say except “That shit, that babbling stream of language that flows through my head, is just crazy.” Nietzsche didn’t say any of that, but I was spiraling down and down and down the toilet as I read, so I took my photo out of it and put it back onto the bookshelf.
For some reason I can’t fathom, my husband likes Nietzsche. Oh, he’s read Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Nietzsche, Sartre, Nabokov, all those serious authors. Me? Not so much. I read literary candy. I spent four nights trying to read Dante’s ‘The Divine Comedy.’ Every night when I sat down to the spot where I’d finished the night before, I’d had to backtrack and figure out where I was in the book because nothing had stuck in my head from the night before. Nothing. Maybe I should read ‘On Being and Nothingness’ after all and see if that sticks.
But I can appreciate my husband’s love for the existential suffering. I can. If you pull that string really hard, it gets funny. I think it’s the only way he and I get through any kind of suffering together is to see how funny it can be. For a while, we had this early morning joke about how Paul Giamatti would play me as the insomniac, the person who sleep-walks through parent-teacher conferences, the person who walks out of the house wearing wool socks and Berkenstocks, the one who accidentally uses salt when sugar is needed. That shit made my husband laugh. It was better when Paul Giamatti played it. He’s just that good.
My problem is that I’m not as funny as I think I am sometimes. Sometimes I’m just pathetic. My phone just buzzed.
- ‘Ding! How are you today?’
It’s from my husband, the sweet guy. My text must have made him feel guilty. I didn’t help matters by replying about the bathmat, the one that had gotten wet last week when the toilet overflowed, yeah, that bathmat, and how it had been jammed into the hamper still soggy and now there is a hamper full of laundry that smells pissy and mildewed. It didn’t help that I texted about my favorite pissy-mildewed shirt and his pissy-mildewed plaid button-down and his pissy-mildewed gym shorts. It might have helped when I told him those shorts probably smelled pissy and mildewed before the bathmat even goobered them. Maybe.
I’m telling you that Paul Giamatti could do it all funnier than I could, but then my husband and I would have a different relationship than we do.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Thank you for listening, jules