Thursday, April 1, 2010

AM I BLUE? Chapter 16 of An Unfittie's Guide


You might not think it to look at him, but my tall, strong man is a high-maintenance husband, especially for an unfittie to have. Although never hovering solicitously (euww, don’t you hate hoverers?) he is at least helpful some of the time, although not all the time, or even very often, and certainly not every time he’s needed.
The trouble is, he cannot be expected to do the expected thing. When approaching an airport security check, he will go happily ahead of me, put his carry-on bags on the conveyor, and step through the metal detector without looking back. He’ll be on the other side, claiming his things, before I can even get the baggie of liquids out of my carry-on and into the plastic box. Then I’ll be struggling to lift my small (but packed to the max) suitcase up onto the metal table, while the passenger behind me is complaining about dithery old ladies who travel alone. (How is she to know the big healthy man away up there on the other side is married to me?)
If we are seated together in a plane, he is very good about slinging my stuff into the overhead bin, leaving me free to sit down and push my shoulder bag under the seat in front of me with my feet (because I can’t bend that far). But if somehow we’re seated in separate rows, I’m apt to find myself unassisted.
Recently, we were on a flight that was completely full, the only available seats being one in mid-cabin in an exit row, and another one halfway from there to the rear. Dick happily settled himself into his exit-row seat, no doubt anticipating an opportunity for heroism should it be afforded him. Of course, even if they do have room, some airlines won't let me sit in the exit row because removing a window and throwing it out of a moving plane would be quite beyond me. So, I said nothing and wheeled my carry-on down to my seat, where I stood staring at the overhead bins in dismay until a flight attendant hefted things up for me.
Only after I was seated, and beginning to get somewhat comfortable, did my husband remember he had a wife. He turned to look and, seeing me somehow seated, waved at me, but never looked at me again until the plane was at the gate and the pilot had turned off the fasten-seat-belts sign.
“I thought you had managed by yourself,” he said later, in response to my reproaches.
Strangely enough, he probably does think I can manage by myself, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Why would I say that? Because I’ve been an unfittie long enough to know how strangely the human mind can work. A part of me thinks all women my age (and older, of course) feel the same pain I feel. When a friend offers to carry something for me, I demur, because I’d rather cause pain to myself than to my friend, somehow forgetting she doesn’t have my list of infirmities and therefore can carry things without as much strain.
Following the same line of reasoning, I imagine my husband mistakenly thinks everything he can do easily is equally easy for everyone his age or younger. Erroneous reasoning, to be sure, but if I hadn’t often made the same mistake myself, I wouldn’t be able to understand what is (or isn’t) going through his head. His “I’m strong enough, so everyone else is also strong enough” makes just about as much sense as my “It hurts me, therefore it hurts everyone else.”
Unfortunately, the results are not the same.

I’ve already discussed pit-stops in a previous chapter, but an almost equally important issue is the refreshment stop. My poor old body, circular though it may appear, requires frequent fuel in the form of food and water. My husband, however, can last for twelve hours straight with nary a nibble nor a sip. How do I contend with that? It isn’t easy.
If not fed on a regular basis, my body does peculiar things. I have chills. I get so cold my toenails turn blue. Once, when I was that cold, I waved my hands in front of Dick’s face and asked him, “What color are my fingernails?”
“Blue,” he replied casually, supposing, I suppose, I had painted them.
“That isn’t a natural color,” I said, by way of a hint.
“Oh,” said he, not at all curious about why they were blue.
“I’m cold.”
“Uh-huh.” Still no question mark. The man does not have an inquiring mind about things medical.
“I’m freezing cold, but it is a warm day. My nails are blue. My blood-sugar is out of whack. I need to eat something. My knees are wobbling and I might fall down any minute.”
“Don’t you have your cane?”
I tell myself it isn’t his fault. Some people are just born without that kind of curiosity, the way some people are born without empathy. Not that I’m suggesting there’s a connection, but... did I tell you he still expects me to get up out of bed when I’m sick, so I can cook for him? No matter how many times I point out the unreasonableness of this expectation, he continues to wake me up when I’m unwell and he’s unfed, to let me know it’s mealtime. This, from the camel who can survive all day without eating.
However, it now occurs to me to mention one of the nicest things about travel with Dick. He likes hotels. He particularly likes hotels providing breakfast, and having a cafe for lunch and/or a restaurant for dinner. Seldom have we had to stay in a motel with a kitchenette so, although he might awaken me before dawn to catch a flight he booked with his airmiles, he hardly ever wakes me up to cook for him when we’re traveling.
Silver lining, every cloud, etc., sez I, philosophically.


aka Penelope said...

I would say that without a doubt you certainly ARE blue … bluer, in fact, than the water you’ve been swimming in as your previous post shows.

Kay L. Davies said...

Thanks, Penelope, I think.
You might notice I've shortened this post a little bit. The making of omelets, no matter how good a Phyllis Diller story it might have been, really had nothing to do with travel, so I deleted it. I find I'm doing all my final editing here on my blog, where I can look at my writing from a more objective standpoint -- author as reader, so to speak.