It is a truth universally acknowledged, that if you do not put out your garbage the night before pickup, the garbage collectors will come before dawn and you will miss having your garbage hauled away until the next pickup day.
Or at least it’s acknowledged by everyone in the world except my husband.
I would ask him the evening before to take out the garbage, and as he sat staring glassy-eyed at the TV, the remote control firmly in hand with thumb gorilla-glued to the channel-changing button, his mumbled response was always, “I’ll do it first thing tomorrow morning.”
Inevitably, I’d be jarred awake at 5:30 am by the ominous rumble of a big truck, and the thunderous thunk of the mechanism that scooped up the garbage and mashed it in the back of the truck. By the time I leaped out of bed and dragged our garbage can to the end of the driveway—wearing only my nightgown, mind you—the garbage truck had already passed our house and was far down the street, a trail of empty upturned garbage cans in its wake.
And Mr. Lucky? I'd return to bed to find him still happily snoring away.
To his credit, he’s not without his reasons for wanting to wait until morning to take out the garbage. These range from fear of nocturnal scavenging by raccoons, possums, and the FBI, to his assertion that I’m really married to a reverse vampire who will spontaneously combust if he ventures out after dark.
When the Crown Prince was still living at home, he always took care of the garbage can—in fact, he took care of everyone else’s garbage cans, too, and had a bit of a reputation as the neighborhood garbage Nazi. Some of the neighbors appreciated his helpfulness; others were not so amused and filed the appropriate complaints with the board of the homeowners’ association instead of talking to his parents. But since he moved out, the garbage detail fell to me.
Like him, I always take it out the night before, which means the garbage is never picked up any earlier than 4 pm the following day.
Then one night recently, I opened the garage door to take out the garbage can as usual. The driveway was occupied by two vehicles—the Chrysler minivan, and Mr. Lucky’s recently acquired, much prized Chevy Cavalier--or as I call it, The Other Woman.
I suppose I could have tried to maneuver the garbage can around the minivan, then hauled it across the front lawn to the curb. Or, I could’ve squeezed around the Chevy and the low-hanging oak tree on the other side of the driveway, and dragged the garbage can over the neighbor’s front lawn. But instead I took the path of least resistance—the gap between the two vehicles.
It would’ve been a smooth, straightforward passage if not for the side mirror on the Chevy. As I pulled the garbage can past, it grazed the mirror and knocked it askew.
I reported the incident to Mr. Lucky, who said it was okay because the mirror was supposed to be adjustable.
“Yes, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be that adjustable,” I said. “It looks as if it’s just hanging there now. I think I may have seen wires, but it was too dark.”
But because he’s a reverse vampire, and after three hours of channel surfing was still clinging to hope at 11 pm that he might find something on TV worth watching, he said he would look at it in the morning.
So it was that in the cold, gray light of dawn, my dismayed husband found the mirror, still in its heavy casing, lying on the driveway between the Chevy and the minivan. He was like the emperor from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale—not the one who thought he had new clothes, but the one who lamented his broken, mechanical nightingale.
And like all emperors everywhere, His Imperial Majesty was most displeased. It could not be repaired; the whole thing had to be replaced because—in his words—I had wantonly destroyed it in a fit of jealousy against his Chevy. Well, why can’t I have new rugs and a change of oil, too? Haven’t I always been reliable? Don't I start up, get into gear, and go right away every morning, without having to warm up first? Hasn’t he gotten great mileage out of me?
But the important thing is, now HE is finally taking out the garbage at night. I can no longer be trusted.
Note to Self: Next week, knock off Chevy side mirror with lawn mower.