“What time is the reservation?” the woman called to her husband, hanging silver hoops from her earlobes while simultaneously wriggling her feet into a pair of black heels.
“Seven,” he hollered from the kitchen. “Do I need to call and tell them we’ll be late?”
She finally got the heels on, but they pinched her toes so much she couldn’t walk without looking like a cripple. She cursed and kicked them across the room, then put them back on because nothing else went with her dress. “No. I’m ready.”
“Really?” She heard the surprise in his voice and knew he was looking at his watch. She glanced at the alarm clock on the nightstand. For the first time in history, they were leaving the house with time to spare. “Well, alright then! Let’s go!”
She strode into the kitchen and slung her bag pretentiously over one shoulder, as if he should know better than to doubt her time management skills. He had to turn around and pretend to look for something so she wouldn’t see his smile.
They made it out the door and had already locked the deadbolt when she realized she didn’t have her phone. “Oh, hang on a sec,” she said briskly. He bit the inside of his mouth to keep from laughing. “I just forgot my phone. Can you let me back in?”
He gave her a fake sigh of exasperation and unlocked the door for her. “I’ll go ahead and start the car.”
She scurried down the hall to the bedroom, limping in the wretched high heels. The phone was not on the dresser where she had left it. She looked in all the other usual places – the nightstand, the bathroom counter, the coffee table in the living room. No phone. Seething, she dashed back out to the driveway where the car was idling.
“Can you call it real quick?” she shouted as her husband rolled the window down.
He laughed. “Sure.”
She scampered back into the house. There! It was ringing! The sound led her into the kitchen, but the phone wasn’t there. She stopped moving and listened carefully. The ringing seemed to be coming from…but no, that wasn’t possible….
Sure enough, when she opened the refrigerator door, there it sat. Right next to a half-empty gallon of milk.
“Where was it?” he asked as she leapt into the car.
“Nowhere. Don’t worry about it.”
“Come on, tell me.” An eager smile was developing on his mouth. “Was it in the laundry basket again?”
“I’m not telling!” she snapped. “Let’s go, or else we’re going to be late!”
They reversed down the driveway, sped through the darkening neighborhood, and turned onto the highway – where her husband slammed on the brakes inches before plowing into the back of a Mercedes M-Class.
“What the – ” the man said, throwing up his hands. “What’s going on? It’s seven o’clock! How is it possible there’s this much traffic?”
“I don’t know,” his wife said irritably, as if he had accused her of causing the congestion. Man, she was hungry.
Twenty minutes later, they had moved approximately fifty yards. The restaurant was still ten miles away. Her stomach grumbled angrily, but as of the last few minutes, that wasn’t her most pressing concern.
She had to pee. Bad.
“Umm,” she began, staring longingly at a gas station on their right.
“Don’t tell me,” her husband said. “You have to go to the bathroom.”
She bit her lip. Why did her bladder always turn against her like this? “I will be so quick. Like, so quick. You won’t even have to shut the car off.”
“I don’t know,” he teased as the turn crept up on them. “I’m not sure I want to stop. Surely you can hold it until we get to the restaurant.”
“NO!” she panicked, even though she knew he was just giving her a hard time. “Come on! Please just stop! I’ll be five seconds!”
“Hmm. Maybe.” The turn was upon them now. If he didn’t pull into the gas station now – right now –
At the last possible second, he swerved into the parking lot and pulled into a space by the door. The woman launched herself out of the car before it was even in park and burst into the convenience store, head swiveling, searching for the little stick figure in a dress.
But there was no stick figure.
“Excuse me, where’s the bathroom?” she roared at the cashier.
“Around back, on the outside of the building,” he replied indifferently. He handed her a key attached to a giant block of wood.
In spite of her emergency, she couldn’t help but hold the block up and say, “Is this really necessary?”
The attendant shrugged and went back to his comic book.
She exploded out the door onto the sidewalk, waved crazily at her husband who still had the car running, and hobbled around to the back of the building.
“You’ve got to be freaking kidding me,” she hissed, skidding to a stop. The giant piece of wood with the key dangling off the end seemed a bit ironic now. Someone laughed behind her: A couple of teenage boys were sitting directly across the pavement from the gaping hole where the women’s bathroom door was supposed to be.
She scuttled back to the car, ignoring the protests of her blistered toes, and motioned at her husband to roll the window down. “There’s no door on the bathroom! That guy gave me this enormous freaking key, and there’s no door to unlock! And there are these kids back there, and – ” She stopped, afraid she might cry. Her bladder was going to rupture any second now.
“Okay,” he said, turning the car off. “Okay. Hang on, I’ll go with you.”
“But I can’t use it!” she cried, crossing her legs and bending at the waist. “There’s no door, and there are teenagers! Teenagers!”
He followed her to the back of the convenience store. “See? No door!” she cried, flapping her hands at the offending entrance. Then she gestured wildly in the opposite direction. “And teenage boys!”
The boys stared at her, mouths slightly open, then glanced at each other and burst out laughing.
Without a word, her husband gave her a gentle push into the bathroom. He took off his suit coat and turned around to face the boys, who were watching the proceedings with interest.
The woman suddenly realized that all those trips to the gym were paying off; her husband was so muscular now that he almost filled up the whole doorway. He stretched the coat behind his back and used it as a curtain across the empty space, effectively obscuring her from view.
His wife raised her eyebrows, impressed.
She did her business quickly under cover of her husband’s muscled physique and makeshift curtain, then tapped him on the shoulder when she was ready to go.
“Feel better?” he asked as he slipped his coat back on.
“Much,” she said sheepishly. “Sorry I got so crazy about the bathroom. You know I can’t think straight when – ”
“When you have to pee, yes, I know. It’s okay. Let’s go.”
They glanced out at the highway, which was still backed up. The husband looked down at his wife and gave her a wet kiss on the cheek. “You know,” he said, “I make a mean spaghetti. And I think there are some pajamas calling our names back home.”
She gave him a wry smile as he opened the passenger side door for her. “Hey, babe?”
“It was in the refrigerator.”
His expression went blank for a second; then, a grin stretched across his face. He let out one loud hoot of laughter as he leaned down to kiss her on the lips. “I think I just fell in love with you all over again.”
As she watched her husband come around to the driver’s side, she
couldn’t help but feel the same way about him.