Monday, April 19, 2010

Most Dreaded Phrase in the English Language (Second in a Series)

“What do you want to do with this?”

Uttered by Mr. Lucky when rerun season starts and he gets it into his head to clean out the garage, a closet, or his man-cave.

“What do you want to do with this?”

My heart sinks like an anchor into the pit of my stomach every time he says he’s going to “clean out” something, because it means I won’t get anything done for the rest of the day. Every five minutes he’ll crash into my office holding up something he’s unearthed and—

“What do you want to do with this?”

Most of the time I tell him to put it back where he found it—especially if it came out of a closet. “If I wanted to do anything with it,” I say, “I would have removed it already and done whatever it is I wanted to do with it.”

But no, he’s trying to create more space in the closet/garage/man-cave by moving everything into my office, till I can’t even budge from my chair for all the spoils of nearly twenty-three years of marriage piled around me like the inventory from Charles Foster Kane’s Xanadu—

“What do you want to do with this?”

—Or what they found in the underground chamber in National Treasure, though I’ve always thought it looked like the same old junk minus the sled.

“What do you want to do with this?”

Trouble is, we’ve only accumulated the kind of stuff that would get us laughed off Antiques Roadshow and Pawn Stars.

“What do you want to do with this?”

I told you, every five minutes. See how annoying it is? He barges back into my office, nearly impaling himself on that cheap tarnished brass knock-off of Anubis that’s supposed to double as a “beverage butler”, and proceeds to empty a bag full of little odds and ends across the keyboard of my computer, even as I sit here typing an opus.

“Look what I found,” he says, thrusting a snow-globe under my nose. As “Lara’s Theme” plays, glitter swirls around a snowy tableau of Yuri Zhivago stealing scrap lumber from a dilapidated Moscow structure while his Party stooge of a half-brother contemplates shooting him for it. “Did you know we still had this?”

“Yes, now please—”

“What do you want to do with this?”

I tell him I had the snow globe put away to keep Baby Bear from dribbling and shooting hoops with it. It is, after all, made of glass and that kid has a thing for breakables. A destructive thing.

“I’ll just put it here for now.” And Mr. Lucky places it on the last square inch of space remaining on my desk.

For now, he says. I know how long “for now” is. Why does he think I can’t get out of my chair anymore? The room was already near capacity from junk he brought in here “for now” the last time he cleaned out another part of the house. I remember that well. Bush was still president. Bush 41.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating, since we haven’t lived in this house that long, but it really does seem as if—

“What do you want to do with this?”

Finally I lose it and yell at him to do whatever he wants with it, just leave me alone.

Why doesn’t he ever seek my input on the really important stuff? Like the time he waited till after he destroyed the receipt to announce he blew all our lottery winnings on the Bioflex 2000 Ultimate X-Treme Digital Family Gym for Home, Office, or Still in Its Original Box Under the Bed. We already had one that’s been holding up our mattress since, yes, Bush 41. With that lotto ticket we could’ve bought a brand new bed frame and paid someone to haul the Bioflex away.

Or the time he traded in my car for a handful of magic beans. That wasn’t what I had in mind when I told him I wanted something “that gets better gas.”

Funny how he never asks, “What do you want to do with this?” in regards to the Bioflex or beans.

Possibly he already knows what I’d say.

(For the first Most Dreaded Phrase in this series, click here.)

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