Before I made it back to the kitchen, the phone rang, again.
Jeff grabbed that call, too. Another one-sided conversation commenced.
“Oh, hi! How are you?” he greeted, warmly.
“Oh, on the 6th? Well, that’s our anniversary. Let me check…”
“Hey, they’re takin’ pictures for the church directory,” Jeff shouted out to me. “They wanna know if we can get our photo done next Friday. We don’t have anything planned, do we?”
“Not, yet, we haven’t.” I answered. “What time is the latest appointment? Probably can’t get there before 6.”
“Didja hear that?” Jeff asked the caller. “Ok. 6 o’clock, it is. What’s that?”
His voice swelled with happiness and pride; his answer booming out of a mile-wide smile. “We’ve been married 5 years!”
“Not, yet, we haven’t!” I shouted back.
“Didja hear that?” Jeff guffawed. “She said, not yet, we haven’t.”
I wonder what the other person’s impression was of my retort. To Jeff and I, it was a silly, humorous complaint and retort. A full-swing, fast-paced verbal dance, we often threw at each other. It stemmed first from frustration, and later, my fear.
Years before, Jeff had either done something I had asked him not to, or hadn’t done something I had asked him to do. Whichever it was, my ending escalated to, “You keep that up and we’re not gonna make it to our 5th anniversary!”
I continued to use it, after that. Sometimes, joking. Sometimes, not.
I used it when he’d come back from the kitchen with a bowl of ice cream, never having asked me if I wanted some. I used it when Jeff accidentally said something that could be hilariously misconstrued as a complaint, but very much wasn’t.
I used it after philosophical discussions, when we could not find a common ground. I used it when things didn’t quite go the way I wanted. I used it when he’d joke with a waitress that I needed a whole ‘nother day to look at the menu. I used it to emphasize the damaging stupidity of chewing tobacco. I used it, creatively, in countless ways.
No matter which way it went, though, Jeff’s reply followed formula, too. It always started with, “You wouldn’t be so lucky!”
It always ended with a variation of a good-natured, extended promise. “I’m gonna live ‘til I’m 80! You’ll see.” “I’m gonna live so long, you’d wish you’d gotten rid of me.” “I’m gonna be botherin’ you for a long, long time, Wort.”
I don’t doubt the person on the other side of the phone knew we were kidding. I just wonder if our conversation ever crossed their mind, again.
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