The other day when I was feeling a little crispy around the edges as far as this blog is concerned, I asked my dearly beloved, Will, if he had any ideas for me. The first one he came up with gave birth to the post “In Sickness and In Health”; the second suggestion was more along the lines of “Hey, why don’t you write something about my models?”
I’d better explain. My husband is a master craftsman of plastic models—not the cheap-o, snap-together kind, but the type that takes real skill to build. He’s been perfecting his techniques over 50 years of working with molded plastics and balsa wood, and to say the least he is extremely good at what he does. Since he’s been retired, he’s had more time to devote to his hobby, and he also belongs to a plastic modeler’s club that often competes in model shows as well as air shows and other kinds of exhibits.
That’s the good part. The bad part is August.
It happens every summer. Will is charged with the Herculean task of running the Big Show at a local art and air festival that takes place at the end of August, which is the hottest time of the year in our neck of the woods. But the heat is far worse at home, because he’s so obsessive about this exhibit that he starts getting stressed before the 4th of July fireworks are over.
No, make that anal-retentive: he’s got to make sure the table drapes are washed and dried at least a month ahead of time. He works on his models from sunup to well past sundown. He painstakingly makes out lists of the sodas and snacks he has to buy, the models he wants to show, the expenses he expects to incur (well, he is the club’s treasurer after all), the hours his fellow modelers are supposed to work at the exhibit (few of whom actually show up for the damn thing).
And…..we fight. Oh, Lord, do we ever. We argue more during the month of August than we do all year, and it’s all about this freaking festival. For one thing, the closer the date, the snippier he gets, and the snippier he gets, the more pissed-off I get. And, if you know anything about bipolar people and anger, you know that the resulting explosions are NOT pretty.
Much of the conflict revolves around the car. We have only one now, and since he has to be at the exhibit all day, he really needs to use it. Add to that the fact that a) he likes to get there at the butt-crack of dawn, b) his buddies rarely come out to give him a break, and c) I’m not a fan of driving from the boonies where we live to the outskirts of the far end of town at 6 AM, I’m basically stranded at home by myself. But then there are these things called church and work, both of which are important and both of which conflict with Will’s schedule at the festival. Eventually, it all works out…..he gets to do his thing, I usually get to do mine, and we go back to being loving partners again once the thing is over.
The funny thing is, we KNOW it’s going to happen, year after year. It’s as inevitable as the tide, and even though Will is always fed up by mid-afternoon on Sunday and vows he won’t do the show again next year, by the time the following spring arrives he’s already planning it.
He said it again last August, and for some reason I took it seriously and secretly thanked God I wouldn’t have to be dragged through the ordeal with him. Once again, my hopes were dashed when he started gearing up in the spring. This year, however, we finally got smart and did something entirely different: We’ve started arguing EARLY, before we both get too stressed to be reasonable, and have learned a little more about compromise—e.g., he has to demand more help from the other club members if they want him to run the show, and I have to stand back, shut up, and let him do it.
After all, as much as I wish Will would stop letting those people take advantage of him, it’s HIS thing, and he still finds enough reward in the project to continue with it long after I’d have told ’em to go fuck a duck. Lord knows the poor man has enough to deal with being married (and sometimes serving as a caregiver) to me, so he should get to have some fun once in awhile…..even if this particular idea of ‘fun’ would make me bat-guano crazy long before the first hour was up.
This is what it means to be husband and wife. We love each other, do nice things for each other, do our best to meet each other’s needs, and respect each other. Except in August.