I'm sure most women designate a day each week for annoying chores that build over time. Because my work schedule is flexible, my catch-all day is Tuesday. It's crammed with running to the post office, grabbing dog food at the pet store, stopping at the outlet shops, and my favorite, tackling the toilets.
I hate Tuesdays. Not because I do all the things I dislike, but because it's never a day that makes me proud. I've never felt fulfilled because I remembered all the letters or bills for the post office or that I finally removed the rust from the bolt on the toilet. The humdrum of the day escalates to guilt because my list of duties is never completed. There's always an interruption that steals too much time and shreds my list in a dust storm of activity, leaving an even bigger mess behind.
Last Tuesday was no different. I opened my eyes just as our cuckoo clock tweeted six times. I wondered if hearing the cuckoo first was an ominous commentary for my list-filled day. I tried to move out of bed but my arm refused to budge from a rotator cuff injury.
Great. I guess I'd better call the doctor, I thought, feeling the pain getting worse. This new interruption was going to throw off my whole day of trying to handle my already-full list.
With only one eye open I stumbled into the bathroom. My husband, Ron, had changed the light bulbs from a safe 60 watt to a spotlight 380 watt. I clutched my eyes trying to spare myself from being blinded. I should remind him that at our age there are a few things I prefer to leave unlit.
I squinted one eye just long enough to retrieve my toothbrush, then smacked off the light and retreated back into the darkness. I felt around for the toothpaste, unscrewed the lid, and squirted at my toothbrush.
This is pretty cool. I'm good in the dark.
I happily brushed my teeth for about three seconds before the terrible taste made me realize something was wrong.
I flipped on the light and blinded myself again. But kept the light on long enough to see a tube on the counter that horrified me: Preparation H. I screamed and immediately spit and tried to fill my mouth with water.
My dog, Toby, ran in to see what he could do to help. His pawing and wagging tangled in my robe, and in the frenzy I fell on top of him as he yelped and bit my ankle. One hand went in the toilet, the other hand still grasping my toothbrush jammed into the trash can, and my head popped the side of the cabinet.
"Debbie, what's going on?" Ron said as he walked into the bathroom.
The pain throughout my body didn't equal the terrible taste in my mouth and all I could do was spit and yell for more water. I tried to get up but couldn't get a hardy grip on anything.
Instead of rushing to my aid, Ron just stood there, hands on his hips, and shook his head.
"Water!" I yelled, as I tried to get untangled from my robe and the dog, and get my hands out of the toilet and trash can.
Ron filled a glass and lifted it to my lips. I wanted to sip and spit but he continued to lift it higher. I didn't want to swallow this stuff. Good grief, what will it do to my insides?
Not the Freezer too?
Our marriage has worked for more than 36 years. Ron's a wonderful man and I love him more every day. But not today.
I shook my head to get away from the flood of water. Was he trying to drown me? I pushed at the glass, which spilled water everywhere and then crashed to the floor. I brought my hand out of the toilet and shook a fist at Ron. I would have given him a piece of my mind, but I was too busy spitting Preparation H.
"I don't know what you want!" he said disgusted.
"I want a clean hand!"
Once I was on my feet with clean soapy hands, I opened a new toothbrush. I thought about French kissing Ron just so he'd know the desperate feeling I had. I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to taste again.
I trudged downstairs, spitting, limping, and holding my bad arm. I picked up the dreaded list and wondered if my catch-all day held any more surprises. Ron held out a peace offering of hot coffee and a donut. Not knowing how it would mix with Preparation H, I passed on the donut. I sipped my coffee and wrinkled my nose at the weird way my tongue felt. Perhaps I should call a pharmacist and see if I'd done any real damage.
My head ached and the bruise on my cheek had turned into a hard bump. I found a plastic bag and went to the fridge for ice. For the last few days I'd been collecting food to be repackaged and stored. When I ran out of room on the counter, I placed a few items on top of the refrigerator.
I opened the freezer door and felt it drag. I looked up just in time to see a bag of flour heading toward me. It hit just the right spot and exploded on impact. I was covered with pure, white flour. Not just the all-purpose kind. This was the over-sifted cake flour that's so fine it floats and sticks to any visible surface.
Ron burst into laughter. His howls echoed in the hallway. He slapped his knees and held his stomach. He pointed in my direction and then bent over laughing. I opened my mouth to yell at him, but instead I sucked flour in my mouth, which mixed with the remaining Preparation H. The taste was awful, but this time I couldn't spit. Preparation H was doing its thing and every pore had dried up.
Joy even in the Insanity
I slid down the side of the refrigerator and sat on the floor, covered in white and unable to speak. I tried to cough the flour out of my mouth, but every time my head moved I was showered with flour from my hair.
Ron was still guffawing when the tears began to fall. Like little rivers washing away the white, they rolled down my face and puddled onto my flour-covered chest where they left a pasty glob.
Ron came over and knelt beside me. "Aw, honey. It's okay. I'm sorry. I just wish you could see yourself."
I coughed again. Ron laughed again.
"Wanna trade places?" I squeaked.
Ron shook his head, poured me a glass of water, and sat beside me.
After a few moments, we started to draw pictures in the flour and laugh about how crazy life had become. The laughter turned into sobs as I cried about the problems we faced. He admitted he was struggling with job issues. We worried about our kids and my aging parents. I shared my concerns and he sympathized. He shared his concerns and I promised to pray. Surrounded by a cloud of white flour, we experienced the deepness of our love. While life is painful and sorrow is certain, we knew that our love for each other was a life preserver of hope. In order to survive we must cling to each other. I put my head on his shoulder and he prayed.
We worked together to clean up and I made a new pot of flour-free coffee. He left for his meeting, and I decided to put off my Tuesday chores for another day. I grabbed half a donut (okay, a whole donut) and headed for my office. I opened my Bible to 1 John 4:12 and read: "No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us." Could it be that today's insanity wasn't just about my clumsy behavior? Could it be that God used this "white Tuesday" to perfect his love in us?
Toby trotted into my office with something in his mouth. He dropped the half squeezed tube of Preparation H at my feet, cocked his head, and wagged his tail. I shook my head and laughed. As I picked up the tube, I felt confident that God's love is all around—even on White Tuesday.