Under jaundiced-yellow kitchen lights, on a Friday evening, with snow still piling up like broken Christmas toys, we’re both so tired we could fall asleep on a stairwell.
I’m over here thinking of all the things I didn’t get done this week. She’s over there loading the dryer. We finally make our way to each other and gaze into each other’s eyes, probably the first time we’ve made eye contact all week.
Our boy is across the room, making fighter jet noises. He’s locked his sights upon us. He’s coming our way. We haven’t much time for this loving gaze, maybe three seconds, tops. Her eyes tell me the following:
This is all a bit much, isn't it? All this work and worry. And I can't even find matching socks anymore. And I know you and I cannot disappear for a while — just the two of us — go to an exotic place near the equator. I imagine us horseback riding along a deserted beach that has zany, improbably bent palm trees and impossibly colored birds, far away from everything, a place where kind, old men play ancient concertinas and even the street dogs gaze upon us and smile. I know we cannot go snorkeling for crustaceans in turquoise waters and then cook them over an open fire while our hearts coo and the moon purrs. I know these things. But I love you.
And I love you.
And ain’t that something.
Ain’t that everything.
Yes I’m afraid so.
Huh? What do you mean you’re “afraid so?”
That slipped out.
Our boy is circling us now, staring at us with a gaze that’s never wordless:
“Hey Dad, check this out. When I turn this like this it looks like a fighter jet. But when I turn it like this, it looks like a toilet. See? Isn’t that funny? Watch. Look. See?”
I don’t look just yet, because I’m still locked in the loving gaze, my gaze saying:
You’re right about the sock thing. I propose we throw out all of our orphaned socks and start fresh. We buy a trunk load of new socks, all the same make, model and color. That way every sock will have a match, forever, amen. And if you want, we can do the same thing with the Tupperware.
She gazes without speaking, a gaze that says the following:
That’s a brilliant idea, and this is what makes you different from the other guys I’ve dated. But you’ve really missed the original point of my gaze.
I know, I know. I dream of that beach, too, even though horses freak me out. But I do like that detail about the kind, old men and the dogs that smile. And I’d totally be into snorkeling for dinner. How about we also wake at sunrise and I’ll cut open coconuts with a machete?
I’d rather sleep in.
That’s a deal. Then after breakfast in bed and a round of you-know-what, we could hike up to that volcano, right? A volcano that smokes like one of those Hollywood actresses in the fifties — you know, smoking but only for show.
I don’t want a volcano. I want a beach.
But I burn easy.
Then park yourself under one of the zany palm trees.
But you’ll be out in the sun. Look, your gaze just 2.7 seconds ago had us purring by a campfire eating hotdogs. Now we’re separated at the beach. I think we’re losing track of this vision.
First of all, we weren’t purring; the moon was purring. And it wasn’t a campfire; it was a beach fire. Big difference! And we’re not eating hotdogs; we’re eating crustaceans.
I gaze back, my gaze saying:
The kind with the shells you can blow into and produce a primordial tuba blast that causes the creatures of the world to cease chewing, look upon us and smile like those street dogs.
Yes. Now you’ve got it! And since we’re at the ocean, when you hold the shell to your ear you can hear the traffic of Manhattan.
Only makes sense. Wow, I love your gazes.
“Hel-lo! Over here. Break it up.”
It’s the boy.
“Hey,” he says, “did you guys know that if you break a pinky promise with someone they’re allowed to break your pinky?”
Our gaze remains locked.
Who sent him?
We realize we’ve only got two-tenths of a second left before our gaze gets busted through like a drug dealer’s den during a sting operation.
My gaze says the following:
Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s bring the boy with us! That'd be fun! And he’d loved to climb the volcano with me.
Suddenly, she looks angry and says aloud, “Did you just think what I think you just thought?”
“What are you talking about?” I say.
“It was supposed to be just the two us.”
“What? I didn’t say anything.”