Channel surfing on old territory

After eight-and-a-half years of marriage, I’ve finally figured us out.
“I am the ‘B’ channel and Pete is whatever channel competes against the ‘B’ channel.”
I’d heard that analogy on TV a while ago, but didn’t clue in at the time to its significance in my neck of the woods until Pete woke up Saturday morning with a hard hat on.
And as if that wasn’t enough to set my caution alarms off, the first words out of his mouth when he sat up, dangled his socked feet over the side of the bed, and adjusted his head gear should have been—considering I’d had a headache when I went to bed the night before.
“You are the best wife in the world.”
That sentence can mean one of two things depending on the moment: a). I really am the best wife in the world or b). Pete wants something.
I was too busy putting on my face to get his drift—caught up in a downplay of crow’s feet and laugh lines that rivalled the cover-up job done on cracks in the living room plaster before I re-painted.
The fact that I had two new contact lenses didn’t help the situation, either.
Life at 46 years old suddenly meant I no longer was near-sighted or far-sighted, and had resulted in the kind of eye wear I imagined Jaime Sommers might have had in the “Bionic Woman.”
Who was I kidding?
My left eye now has a contact for reading while the right has one for seeing long distance (hello, what am I supposed to do when applying eyeliner along the lid of the eye that needs to be open to see anything up close?)
But let’s get back to the guy with the hard hat on at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning.
The evening before, I’d conveyed what I thought was a warm and fuzzy yearning to melt away the damp and chilly effects of a mid-January night while my beloved was home.
I wasn’t handing Pete a long list of weekend work orders, nor was I asking him to remodel the house or clean out 60 years of clutter in the basement.
All I wanted was a bonfire.
What I got was “the channel that competes against the ‘B’ channel,” funded by 12 cups of caffeine and a master plan to find enough wood for a bonfire by cleaning out 60 years of clutter in the basement.
(Not to mention the channel Pete operates under often has delusions of a remodel financed by would-be winning lottery tickets and Donald Trump).
All I knew is that the basement was full of rows of ancient canning jars filled with dill pickles from 1950, 100 bottles of unrecognizable substances used in the old farming days teetering in the shallows of the ceiling, remnants of Mickey Mouse plumbing, and the intermittent, beady eyes of a fleeting mouse.
I bit my lip, refusing to decline Pete’s voluntary offer to breathe new life into the old space, stuffed my hopes for a romantic crackling bonfire in my back pocket, and donned my work gloves.
Then, rolling my eyes back into my head in a “I give up” sort of response, the far-sighted contact lens got sucked under my eyelid and I missed seeing the big sledge hammer Pete was carrying across the yard from the barn to the basement.
I was sitting at the kitchen table fumbling with the contact I’d pulled back to the front of my eyeball from near my retina when suddenly the bigger picture became loud and clear.
I heard two big “thwacks” and a couple of “booms,” and tore down the stairs with my cellphone—forefinger poised for a “9-1-1” call in case Pete had been buried by the two-decades worth of Christmas catalogues from the 1970s and 1980s he’d found stashed in the beams of the basement ceiling.
I reached the bottom of the stairs and nearly tripped over my bottom jaw at the magnetism of the man in coveralls and a hard hat, and a sledge hammer slung over his broad shoulder.
And a sight for sore eyes.
There in the corner of the basement was the makings of my bonfire—the remainder of a old, dilapidated potato bin room built of wood in the late 1940s, which I’d been avoiding for fear of getting locked in there with “Jumanji-sized” spiders and bats.
The wheels of progress jump-started, we spent all of Saturday and half of Sunday cleaning up and hauling out an overwhelming amount of wood. (“Keepers” included collectible blue-hued glass jars—without pickles—and an old baseball card that eBay says is worth $300).
And at the end of the weekend, I had my bonfire—made possible by the “channel who competes against the ‘B’ channel,” who by any other name remains at the top of my favorites list.
(But I’m not giving in to ceramic flooring and a full-sized drum set for the basement, honey).

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