The first moments of this new year of 2011 were spent cleaning up vomit and shit. That’s right, Auld Lang Syne and I were wiping feces off the cream colored carpeting come sunrise.
The night prior to said loose stool patrol—that’s New Year’s Eve for you in the back row—I was doing my best to style my bedside table to resemble that of a pubescent boy. Moist towels, Vaseline, and gummed up tissues littered my bedside, wadded and still sticky. I had a cold that can only be described as dastardly. Hoping to suffocate it dead, I crammed twisted strips of toilet paper into my nostrils until my nose bulged like the cheeks of burrowing rodents.
“What in the–” It was Phil leaning on the frame of our bedroom doorway. I wasn’t sure how long he’d been there. Still, I froze, as if I were a masturbating pubescent caught spanking something. It was now or never. Ready or not, here I come. And by I, I meant the “worse” part of the whole “for better or worse” jazz.
“It stops the leaking,” I peeped out, deciding if I should get to work on my other nostril or try for another air-hanky.
“You don’t understand! All I want to do is blow it, constantly.” A phrase Phil hasn’t heard in our bedroom for a sweet long time.
“Stephanie, are these tissues hanging out of your nose seriously essential to your well being?”
I buried my head in my lap, almost shouting a “Yes!” Except it came out as a laugh. And a whine. I was tempted to tell him to think of my leaking nose as a breast in need of a nursing pad, ready to chase it with a “things that leak are sexy,” but then anal leakage sprung to mind, so I thought better of it.
“Welp,” I said, “If you love me now, you’ll love me forever.”
“Dude, that’s the part where you agree.”
“You know this isn’t a chick flick right?”
“Come on, you know you love me more now than ever before because you’ve seen that I’ve let you see my most ugly side, which makes you feel totally important.”
“I feel important because you have dried snot on your cheek?”
“That’s the spirit. Now give them lyrics a harmony, baby.”
I remove my tissue stoppers and blow, sounding not unlike an elephant. He makes that face again, as if he’s tasted something bitter. “But, honey, I’m letting you behind the veil of mystery, which means I love you.”
“How ‘bout you love me a little less.”
He is not thinking, I am the luckiest man alive because this force of a woman is letting me spend the rest of my life with her, snot and all. He’s thinking, “Why can’t I have a hot wife who keeps this shit to herself? Why, for the love of God, do I have to see her the way she sees herself?’
“Come on,” I say, arms outstretched, “you liked Shrek. Now, come to mama.” Only I didn’t refer to myself as “mama” because when not in the context of my children or prefaced with the word “foxy” or “hot,” the word “mama” makes me feel like a fat woman in a housecoat offering up fried hooves.
“Yeah, I’m gonna pass, but you get some sleep,” Phil finally said. Then he shut the lights and whispered that he loved me.
It was all of nine PM.
The following morning, the first day of 2011, I awoke alone.
Given Phil’s heart, when the house is quiet, I wonder if he’s alive. I really do. He’s not in bed. Maybe he died downstairs. I have to go see.
That’s when I see the vomit. And then, closer to the stairs, a heaping pile of shit—the art of our beagle, Mr. Bikini. Kini is fully housebroken. He wouldn’t just do this. What if Phil is dead? What if he just fell over and is on the floor, and he couldn’t let the dog out? Why else would Kini leave these organic presents? I have to see. Where are the children? Not in their room. Oh, God, what if they found Phil, dead? No, worse, what if they’re all dead downstairs with carbon monoxide poisoning?
I hear the TV in the guest room. I am breathing through a towel just in case.
I find Phil passed out in the guest room. I touch him to see if he’s warm. He stirs. “Wha, wha.” He’s still talking in sleep. I’ve pieced together what’s happened. How he stayed up on the couch, fell asleep, realized he fell asleep sometime around four AM, then dragged his ass to the nearest bed–our guest room. Phil ought to have thought of the dog’s bed, in the doghouse, where he now will be sleeping.
I lean in and whisper “Happy New Year. Forty-three people will be here soon, my sweet. But, first, I’m going to have to kill you. And get Kini an ass mint.”