Technically, it was my husband's fault. He had sworn never to allow me into his sacred domain, the attic, ever again. That's fine with me. I don't even like going anywhere near the dusty, cob-webby depository for all the macho man-toys that I've suggested he not keep in the house. ("No, Dear. I don't think a stuffed toad 'goes' with the dried flower arrangement on the coffee table. But I do think it would 'go' great in the attic—right next to your lucky Bavarian stein.") You know how it is.
Like I said, I normally stay away from the attic, but since no one else was around to help Barry with his annual lugging down of the Christmas tree and boxes of holiday decorations, I became designated helper by default.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" I asked him. "I mean, after what happened last time?"
Last time occurred way back when, in the early years of our marriage when we were eager to be each others' partner and helper. Now, after 34 years, we still want that … just not in the attic. That last time, we had gone up in the attic to run an electrical cable from one end of the house to the other. Barry's job was to crawl through the dust and spiders; mine was to hold the flashlight. That's always my job—to hold the flashlight. Or the ladder. Or the drill box. That day I had an added responsibility—to stay on the rafters.
Now, I'm an intelligent woman. I know that the Beatles' first American hit was "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and that Benjamin Harrison was our first president with a fear of electricity. I can even use the word zoophyte in everyday conversation (as in, "Ha-ha, Barry! With a triple word score, zoophyte gives me 75 points and I win!").1