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Survival of the Week

I'm flying solo this week. The missus left this weekend to deal with some family business, and won't be back until Sunday. That's given me two days -- to date, with five more coming -- to hold down the fort and fend for myself.

So far, I'm managing. But it's pretty strange.

My wife and I have been together for approximately forever. We met in college, back in the Cenezoic Era, and started "officially" dating -- as though we registered with the International Going Steady Commission or something -- on the same day the very first web page was written.

(According to Wikipedia. No word on whether that page included blinking text, a tiled cat background and a note from Tom the MySpace guy. But it probably did.)

Since the mid-nineties sometime, we've been sharing a home. First, an apartment. Then another apartment. Then a house. Now a condo. And while we've been physically apart for a few days here and there, this week is unique for a couple of reasons.

First, it's a full week. Neither of us has ever traveled much for work, so neither of us is away for a week or more very often. I did graduate college two years ahead -- quite rudely, I've been told, damn my age -- and lived in Pittsburgh a while before she caught up, but that was before we'd lived together at all. Depending on which of the RAs you happen to talk to.

I also spent a few months here in Boston in 1999, when I was able to move for work before she lined up her plans here. But that was a transition. I was here alone in temporary housing, living from a suitcase and a beer fridge. There was no routine being interrupted; everything was new, and I was struggling to find my feet, my center and a new favorite pizza joint.

Now, we've been cohabitated for years. We've got a system. And while we've spent a few days traveling separately now and then, it's usually over a holiday. In other words, a time when habits and patterns are broken already. If circumstances -- usually a grave dog illness, bless our departed furball's fuzzy little heart -- had me at my family's without my wife, then I was already out of my element. Meaning off my couch and drinking someone else's beer. Among other things. And if my wife was with her folks while I stayed behind, it was still Christmastime. No work. No routine. And mostly, no pants. Ho ho ho.

But this is different. It's a 'normal' work week for me, but I've got the condo to myself. The wife is family-timing -- and while the dog is technically still here, she's now in an urn on the spare bedroom shelf. Which is somewhat less company, but an enormously lower risk that the couch will get peed on any time in the next five days. It's a trade off.

Of course, the thing I'm discovering is how many little things my wife -- or possibly the dog, though I have my doubts -- takes care of during our usual weekly schedule. Sure, I can handle the obvious things -- I've been trained on how to run the dishwasher, and where the extra toilet paper lives, and I already do my own laundry. Also, "gadget stuff" is my department, so I'm a pro with the various computers, keypads and remote controls around the joint. And I order a mean pepperoni pizza.

"For instance, did you know that some guy from the government comes around every weekday to put mail in the mailbox?"

So what's left, I thought. What the hell else would a one-week bachelor need?

I'd be surprised, apparently. For instance, did you know that some guy from the government comes around every weekday to put mail in the mailbox? I was unaware of this. Every so often, junk catalogs and bills and takeout menus would show up on our dining room table -- but I never knew how they got there. I never asked. They just showed up, and mostly sat for a few days and then somehow got processed away again. It's been sort of a mystery to me, frankly. Nobody sends me mail, and I pay the bills I know about online. Outside of a misaddressed envelope of cash or a Vicky's Secret lingerie blowout, I can't imagine what that heaping pile of paper is good for, anyway. But apparently, it's my job to go retrieve it from the mailbox and ignore it on the table. Through Saturday, at least. What an odd little dance.

Also, while I do a lot of the laundry, that sometimes entails just the washing and drying and carting around of the clothes. Let's be fair -- once dirty clothes have been made clean and returned to the condo, they're really not 'laundry' any more. Rather, they're 'a pile of fresh clothes and linens' that probably get put away somewhere -- but if they're not my boxers or T-shirts, then I have no idea where. And my 'laundry hat' doesn't know, either.

So I'm now learning something else. My wife is fond of telling me that "those towels aren't going to fold themselves". Which has always seemed irrelevant to me, since I'm the do-the-laundry guy and not the fold-the-lazy-stupid-towels guy. And eventually, so far as I could tell, those towels do fold themselves, and put themselves away in a closet somewhere, probably with the spare sheets and fuzzy toilet seat covers that no one lets me use.

But I'm starting to think my wife has had something to do with the process all along. Because I dumped a load of towels off in the spare bedroom yesterday, and damned if they have not folded their shiftless selves into neat little squares yet. They just lie there, freeloading. Makes me not feel so bad about rubbing my junk on them after a shower.

I'm sure things will get worse before they get better. So far, I've got clean underpants, enough beer and nothing in the place has broken off, shattered or exploded. But it's only a matter of time. And I've got five more days to go. Keep those pepperoni pies coming.





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