My Husband walks past me. He doesn’t say a word. He searches around the kitchen for nothing, making sure to avoid my eyes. I’ve been with him for ages, I know all of his tricks. He is mad at me and he wants me to notice it. I’m a fifty year old woman. I don’t have time for games.
He picks up a bottle of champagne and mumbles curse words in between sloppy breathing. He’s a big hippo, fairly built for his age, but he has the stamina of a four hundred pound man. I told him to go to the gym with me, but he refuses saying that “gyms are for losers!” in reference to the biggest loser show. I told him, that’s not funny!
All that changed the other day when he heard me mention Ben to my girlfriend Maria. Ben is my assigned trainer. He’s young and likes to make compliments. When Daniel met him, yesterday, that’s exactly what he told me. “It’s unprofessional!” He pouted angrily. I may have had made fun of his big belly in reply. Big deal! I admit what I said wasn’t nice, but it was a joke and he knows that. I said, “ Your belly is unprofessional! I can fit a home in there, and there’d still be room for improvement!” I told him that in reference to the show Home Improvement. He didn’t find it funny.
I take out the bread out of the refrigerator. He watches me struggle to grab the peanut butter up in the pantry and, this time, he doesn’t offer his help. I don’t eat a lot of peanut butter unless it’s organic. Ben tells me that I am allowed to cheat on my diet once a week. I pay my husband no mind. I get it myself. The jelly is on the lower shelf. I align them all on the table and sit down to prepare my quick breakfast. When he realizes that I’m not paying attention to him at all, he simply stands there looking like a big idiot. He knows that I go to the gym every morning. I was going to see Ben again! He didn’t like that. He needs to grow up, and at fifty six, I didn’t think I’d have to tell him.
I unfasten the lid of the jar and that’s when I remember that I forgot to take the orange juice. I look back at the fridge still sitting down. I hate having to get up again that’s why I always make sure to get everything first. He knows that. In a double entendre act of kindness, he leaps, my ballerina hippo, and gets me the box of “all natural” juice. I thank him prematurely as he doesn’t let go of the carton. “I don’t feel comfortable with that trainer guy, and as your loving husband, I have the right to tell you to stop talking to him.” I snatch the orange juice out of his hands. “Why? He makes you nervous!” I tease him. “Goddammit, Ellen! I’m serious!” He hadn’t raise his voice at me like that in six years.
He huffs and puffs, and I try to hold my tears. I know it’s only Ben’s job to tell me that I look good. He doesn’t even go overboard. I’m a woman, fifty or not. Which one of us don’t want the young Bens to tell us that we’re beautiful, even if our big snugly hippos tell it to us once in a while. He doesn’t own me! I can speak to whoever I damn please! At least someone appreciates my thirty minutes butt lifting exercises, and my one hour Giselle’s magic legs treadmill runs! I’m living with a health hazard, I mean what if he rolls over at night? And why I’m I even crying!
I take the knife out of the jar. I slowly wipe it clean of the peanut butter with my tongue. He opens his eyes wide, “ Are you crazy!” I put the knife down and fit my whole hand in the jar. I take out as much peanut butter as I can, and in act of what I can only describe as kiddish anger, I throw it all at him.
Blop! Right on his face.
He slowly wipes the butter with his right hand. I know him well, he is building up anger and bile before he explodes in a fit of “unfit” fury. I get up to signal my victory and have him surrender, wishful thinking that only accelerates is getting mad process. He rushes towards me, his belly first. I honestly thought, at that moment, that I was going to die, but instead of grabbing my arm, he reaches for the jelly.
He chases after me, missing at every poor attempt at hitting me with the sticky sugary substance. I submit on the living room couch where my pity for him alone overrides the disgusting thought of having jelly on my clothes and hair. He huffs and puffs, and we laugh. He leans on me failing to find somewhere else to lay. I let him enjoy that for two seconds too long before I yell that his big fat belly is suffocating me.
So there we laid, romance movie misfits, covered in sticky food paste, having the laugh of our lives. There are no cameras rolling, not cuts, no lighting. This is as real as it gets where a hippo and a wannabe flamingo can say “ We still got it!”. He is a year pass “back pain old” and I am a year behind “trying to stay young”, together we are a hundred years old!
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