Conversations with my grandmother often seemed rushed because she worried terribly about the cost of long distance, whether she was calling me or I was calling her, and despite the fact that I explained several times about my flat rate plan. Nonetheless, no amount of time would be spared when it came to goodbyes. “I love you,” she always said at the end, “Zei gezunt.” And then I would probably repeat the zei gezunt, and then she would probably repeat it, and so on, in what seemed an endless cycle that allowed us to forget about the distance between us and the cost of the call.
Similarly, phone conversations with The Scientist often seem rushed, as we each try to share the (unequal) excitement of our days with each other–until we get to the end. Because at that point, we both remember our sad state of affairs, and, as with my grandmother, there is a drawn-out refrain.
A call to his Google Voice goes something like this:
Me: “How’s your day going?”
The Scientist: “Great! We had an amazing lab meeting. There were so many interesting ideas bandied about. Then there was a guest speaker from Columbia who gave a really engaging talk, and he cited several of my papers. Afterward, we chatted for about an hour, and we came up with all kinds of experiments we’re going to collaborate on. Also–“
Me: “Must be nice.”
The Scientist: “How are things at home?”
Me: “Well, Baby MoFo is sweet. I mean literally. He dumped a bowl of yogurt on his head today. Someone should really bathe him.”
The Scientist: “Oh. When–“
Me: “Yeah, and Cool J’s teacher, Mora G called me in to class when I went to pick him. He was very disruptive today. And he ate glue.”
The Scientist: “Well, we should probably talk–“
Me: “And LL is not listening to me. He insists on sitting on a different-numbered seat on the school bus every day even though he told me #16 doesn’t have a seatbelt. Can’t he just skip 16? Also, apparently we keep doing his homework wrong. We might be in some trouble with his teacher. I don’t know. All I know is that right now there is a light saber war going on but the real war is about who gets to be Darth Vader. I’m actually hiding in our bedroom pretending there’s no mama here. I think it’s working. . . Oh crap, they heard me. Shhhhhh!”
The Scientist: “Oh.” (Whispers): “Sorry. Um . . . I’ll be home soon . . .ish . . . Just another five hours or so. Maybe earlier. I’m pretty hungry. I forgot to bring a lunch.”
Me (forgetting to whisper): “OK, well, don’t spend money!”
The Scientist (forgetting to whisper): “You neither!”
Me (getting louder): “OK! And you neither—not even on tea!”
The Scientist: “And you!! No surprise Amazon orders! You haven’t even opened your labeler yet, and you got it a week ago!”
Me: “OK! And make your lunch tomorrow!”
The Scientist: “OK! And no sneak-lattés when you take the kids to the library.”
Me: “OK! I won’t spend money!”
The Scientist: “OK! Me neither!”
Hmmm. Zei Gezunt seems much more loving.
I LOVE YOU, HUSBAND! ZEI GEZUNT AND HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!