"Zen vee pull zee rabbeet ouvt oft zee hat, oont.... You know, Adam, you don't have to look at me that way; I'm trying the best that I can, here." Xena tossed the top hat onto the kitchen table, where it spun briefly, and walked out into the front room, her shoulders tight and hunched.
We'd been taking a hack at the "Humor Exercise" that the counselor had given us to do--homework, in a way--the idea being that making each other laugh was the first step in re-establishing the passion of which the relationship had been bereft ever since Heather had been born. Verily, it was going on nine months since we had...well...nine months since we had had a nice mutual belly laugh.
"Um," I said, as I watched my firecracker wife plop into the armchair with a hmph and cross her arms tightly across her chest and stare blankly at the Zenith, upon which Paul Newman was shoving hard-boiled eggs into his mouth at a frenetic pace. The thing was, it hadn't been funny; in fact, her impromptu "Komic Majic Session" had been pretty lame, embarrassing, really. "Sorry I didn't laugh, Xeen, I was afraid that I was gonna choke, hon." Rapid-fire, I jammed ten or fifteen jelly beans into my mouth and pretended to gag.
"Quite the show, Adam," she said icily, viewing my aborted excuse for an excuse from the reflection on the big bay window. "Pretend--just for a moment--that we still have it, okay?"
Oh boy--"it." Never let anyone tell you that "it" is an innocuous word, two letters, benign. Many a man has fallen to his couch with the reverberation of it, it, it, it, it clanging through his mind. Loaded doesn't even begin to describe that small word, when it is used in this context: Chemistry, love, passion, newness, sparkle...basically, Xena was telling me that, after three short years, the fizzle had fazzled and we were thisclose to eating silent dinners at the local Ram's Horn, me with my paperback and she with her crossword puzzles.
"'Kay," I said, "let us pretend that we still have...it." Jazzed up a bit with the horror of living a sexless life for the next indeterminate years, I chased my sentence with an ominous (and slightly belligerent) Duh-duh-duhhhhhhhh; a chaser that Xena found not the least bit humorous.
"I'm going to bed," she said suddenly, getting up, avoiding eye contact and giving me a wide berth as she headed towards the stairs. "Heather's gonna need some more diapers tomorrow--we have a few left but she shits like nobody's business--so, uh, make yourself useful, eh?"
"Go to Meijer's in the morning, check," I said, and noticed that her shoulders were shaking slightly as she reached the first step. "For Pete's sake, Xeeney, are you crying?"
"Exactly!" she cried, spinning around and fixing me with her brilliant and shiny brown eyes. "Do you not understand that we are drifting apart like the--the--the friggin' continental drift?! Because I do and I'm scared because it's not just you and me anymore, Adam; we have Heather to think about and I'm just fucking scared."
"Amazing," I said, "that you can think about continental drift at a time like this," and I saw the left corner of her rosebud mouth lift a little bit and I closed the distance to her and I enveloped her in my arms and I whispered to her that it was going to be all right.