I sensed an unfamiliar iciness in his tone when I called to ask if he had picked up the kids from their school and sent them to my parents’ for a weeknight play date with my nieces. I hate being the first one to call after our ‘disagreement’. Ok, it was more like a small quarrel, but this was epic by our standards being two completely compatible individuals in terms of our fairly mild temperament and shared sunny disposition for life — two of the many other qualities in this relationship which have nurtured our 23 years of friendship, 22 years of courtship, 13 years of marriage and 11 years of parenting journey. Daddy Joe has been so much part of my life that sometimes it’s hard to find the right word to describe what he is to me—a soul mate, may be? It’s when you can literally “hear” what the other person is thinking even without ever exchanging a word, or mention correctly what he has in mind for a craving, or the smiling affirming nod you receive amidst the large crowd of audience when you completely freaked out at the first time you have to emcee for a friend’s wedding that just keep you going strong in an imperfect world. In any case, I married my best friend and I am glad I did.
But this time yesterday I was fuming with anger when he told me he was going for ANOTHER biking tour to Thailand. This was what… the fifth time this year? And we haven’t even got to December yet! Call me a controlling freak or an outraged alien with my two protruding antenna going at opposite directions for all you want but this is NOT acceptable. Doesn’t he realize how dangerous this could be, riding past all the half-asleep drivers stuck too long on the Malaysian highways and whizzing past the heavy trucks and other vehicles at 160km/h, which attempt to outrun each other foolishly to reach their destinations in the shortest drive time? Crazy!
If only he had not lost a quarter of his pinky when we were both 19 years old. The mere recollection of how he pressed my apartment’s doorbell bleeding profusely in excruciating pain after his first motorbike skidded at the basement car park that had been drenched in soap water, of how I cinched his forearm as we tried to look for the missing severed finger part and as well, the agony of crying all the way while driving him to the hospital is enough to send chill down my spine.
I am a play-it-safe woman with kids. I could not fathom the rationale behind this “riding with the wind and feeling the breeze on his face” kind of notion and nonsense. So I made a hard stand about my disapproval and chided on his appetite for Biking unsympathetically, ending with my sarcasm about his pre-middle-age crisis that was just “pathetic”.
May be I was a little harsh on the last word but I had to defend my constant distress and anxiety. We have a beautiful family here; what if something happened to him? It ended with both of us sleeping separately — him spending the night in the guest room while I occupied our bedroom with the kids. “FINE!” we both shouted before bitterness crept into the night like a resentful teen, slamming the bedroom door shut with a loud thud.
Anyway I had to call him just so that I didn’t have to make an unnecessary trip to the school. He gave me an obliging “Hmmph” acknowledging that the kids had been dropped off at my parents’ already, before both of us hung up in despair. We just could not bring ourselves to understand each other’s anguish. This issue has been here for the last four years when he started biking after his mom’s death. I have prayed fervently on this issue before but it does feel like God wants us to get to the bottom of this massive knot on our own amicably. It’s all part of pruning the relationship tree with Maturity if we were to move forward on this continuum.
After lunch, because I had a bit of time before the next meeting in town, I decided to stop at a Starbucks in KL to get a grip of things, as they said, and also to get a Mocha. Nothing a bittersweet mocha could not resolve or bring peace to a woeful heart.
I pushed open the glass door of the café and as I scanned the row of sofa seats ahead, I was surprised to see right there… the familiar broad frame, crew cut hair and the kindest deep brown eyes staring back at me from the brown sofa in utter shock. Leaning on him was “Creamy Skin” Amy, the new sweet young thing who had joined his company 2 years ago, who with her signature impeccable style in a revealing mauve dress just didn’t leave much to the imagination. Suddenly I felt sick all over. I felt my body trembling and I didn’t know what to think or react either and I could feel tears welling up in my eyes uncontrollably. He stood up ruefully and for what felt like eternity, neither of us spoke. I felt betrayed and humiliated as if a thousand knives have just cut through my heart.
Something violent overcame my mind so I raised up my hand and gave not just one, but two hard, ferocious SLAPS on his buttocks like I had cracked….
Daddy Joe sat up on his side of the bed still groggy from this sudden slap on the butts screaming blue murder, “Ooouuch! What was THAAAAT? God! You have just slapped me TWICE on my butts!” Daddy Joe bawled in disbelief. I sat there crying, disgruntled that he had betrayed me, in a dream so vivid I still felt my heart reeling from the melancholic heartache. “You IDIOT, how DARE you betrayed me and having an affair with Amy!” I cried. “What… Who is Amy anyway?” he looked at me incredulously. “I don’t care, she’s your new superhot staff and I freakin’ want to kick her ass!”
“I certainly do not have any Amy or any hot girl in my office… Are you having one of those pregger’s vivid dreams again?” Daddy Joe asked carefully. Wiping the tears in my eyes I suddenly realised that indeed I had! Having waken up from our deep sleep, both of us sat there on our bed for a good minute in silence before we both burst into hysterical guffaws in the middle of the night.
When we were about to go back to our sleep, I asked Daddy Joe lovingly, “Dear, do you want to cuddle up?” to which he promptly replied before turning his back to face me, “uhm… darling, may be we save it for tomorrow. In case an Amy come out in your dream again. Just gotta make sure there is no knife or scissors in our room first!”
This was a post written two years ago when I was pregnant with Baby B. God bless my better half, Daddy Joe, who has merrily survived half-a-dozen times of hormonal-induced pregger’s dreams that had seen him gotten slap, beaten and shouted at before. Oh well, they don’t call them better half for no reason, right.
Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/paperpariah/4135993317/”>Adam Foster | Codefor</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>