As an author and humorist, Reid Champagne is known for his absurd & sophomoric observations of everyday life. While the story of how Reid met wife Carol (after being widowed late in life) is so sweet it belongs on Hallmark, his family would argue his inept & smart-ass tendencies belong on a 2020 reboot of Grumpier Old Men.
Photo credit: Lovisa Photo
When Carol returned from shopping the other day, she saw that I had made the bed with fresh sheets from the dryer. “Thank you for making the bed,” she said, giving me a kiss. I thought, What’s up with this? She makes the bed every day of the week, and I’ve never thanked her for it.
At first I thought she might be shaming me for never telling her thanks for making the bed. But I realized that would mean thanking her every day for something she would do anyway. Neither of us would embrace the tedium of that. It would be like her thanking me every time I remembered to put the toilet seat back down (though the “thank yous” wouldn’t quite add up to the same number – mine to her would, I think, still be higher).
Then I thought that the thank you was because if left to my own devices, the bed would never get made. (It would, of course, every time I’d change the sheets, which, if memory serves back to my days of widowhood, would be every two weeks at the least.)
Of course, I’d always suspected Carol was carrying the water and doing the heavy lifting in this relationship. (How she managed to move that couch by herself still amazes me.)
Then something else occurred to me, and this one will require an exercise in mansplaining to make my point here. We also give thanks to those who go above and beyond the call. Armed services people deservedly receive our thanks and we’ve given it to them, at times to the point of some of them saying “enough already.” Is that what’s behind this latest “thank you” for making the bed?
Was my effort so beyond the realm of expectation (remember I was neither asked, nor was it pointed out to me that the bed had been stripped and “clean sheets were in the dryer”) that the “thank you” actually resulted from the shock and surprise of me essentially making the bed from scratch without the benefit of a prompting or a specific request? What was I to make of this, except the upper limit of Carol’s expectations as a helpmate had now been identified for all time.
I realized in that “thank you” was that I was no more than any other man as defined by woman. That my limitations were indeed set by biology, and no matter how much I might have believed I had broken through that mold of mediocrity and low expectations, the mold remained as intact and untarnished as a bronze sculpture of a man standing on a crumbling pedestal.
It’s a hard reality to face one’s own inferiority – and still face it like a man. Fortunately, in facing it like a man, it will be just another disappointment as well. Of course, I’d always suspected Carol was carrying the water and doing the heavy lifting in this relationship. (How she managed to move that couch by herself still amazes me.) But to know that she knows it and I know it does feel like a liberation of sorts: I’ll never have to look at a stripped, unmade bed again, and think there’s anyone believing it will be me stepping up to the plate.