We have reached the part of our program—school is closed for the third day in a row, and we are more or less housebound, and the children are crabby and everybody is sick of everybody else—where I am back to my standard coping mechanisms. This means that by the time the kids go to bed at night, I am basically non-verbal and can only handle a bare minimum of human interaction, provided it occurs during the commercial breaks (or fast-forwarding through the recorded commercials) of mindless shows on the television.
In other words: The kids go to bed, I go to the couch. I grunt or mutter in response to whatever Otto says to me, but mostly, the extent of what I can process or react to ends with pointed snickering during CSI: Miami.
I tend to think of this evening couch time as deeply therapeutic. After all, I’m curled up with the dog, I often have a square of good chocolate, I’m decompressing from the day because who can think about anything important while partaking in what passes for entertainment in this country? Sure, I’m probably not very good company, but it beats the evenings when we decide to talk and I just cry all over Otto for an hour or two.
(Related: God, it is SO MUCH FUN to be married to me! Otto is a lucky, lucky man!)
Anyway, it’s something of an exaggeration to say we don’t talk at ALL during these times. Why, there’s always someone on TV to make fun of, for example, and of course there’s often child detritus laying around for us to either complain or plot about. (Note: It is now 10:30 a.m. and someone has yet to realize that her brand-new iPod is missing. There’s a little cash riding on how long it takes her to notice. The fun part, you see, is that she’s such a slob it may take WEEKS before she begins to suspect it was relocated for her. I like to call it the Crapness Protection Program—saving treasured objects from Hurricane Chickadee is all in a day’s work, ma’am.)
So we do talk, some. Why, yesterday, I sank into the couch and the dog immediately pounced on my lap and I began scrolling through the programming guide, looking for something worthy of our mockery for the next hour or so. Otto wasn’t yet in the family room, and so when he came along and sat down, I paused in my searching to talk to him about… something. I can’t even remember what.
You know how the TV display works when you’re on the guide, right? The guide takes up the bottom two-thirds of the screen, and then the top third is split between details about whatever show you’ve landed on and the actual programming happening on whatever channel you’re currently tuned to. I have no idea what channel I was on when I started scrolling through; I hadn’t been paying attention.
Anyway, I left the guide up on the screen and started talking to Otto. And I was about two sentences into whatever I was saying when I realized he wasn’t listening to me AT ALL, which is unusual for him. Instead, he was staring at the television, completely transfixed.
“What is this?” he asked.
I glanced at the TV, which appeared to be showing a commercial of some kind. “I… don’t know? I was looking for something.”
“No,” he said. “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS??” His agitation was real. I turned back to the TV and beheld… this:
I guess because it’s a cartoon, it’s supposed to be… okay? Like, it’s fine to have a pooping contest during prime time as long as it’s only CARTOON poop. Or something.
Now, I think the commercial is stupid, for sure. But Otto’s reaction to it was just… comedy gold. He sputtered. He stammered. He managed to squeak out things like, “WHY?!?!?!” It was as if Luvs had personally set out to disrupt everything he’s every known to be true about the world and common human decency.
In the midst of the Snowpocalypse Shutdown, teen girl hormone rollercoasters, and everything that’s going on with Monkey’s health, my husband’s ability to make sense of life as we know it was completely rocked by the sight of cartoon babies shitting themselves.
And somehow, that was all I needed to laugh until I could barely breathe, to sit there on the couch, gasping for breath, tears stinging my eyes, just HOWLING at his reaction. His utter indignation was the stuff of legends. I wish you could’ve seen it.
The next time I need to relax and unwind after a difficult day, I’m making Otto watch that commercial again. It was way better than a glass of Pinot.