Speaking of the silent treatment…

Published 9:28 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Column: Tales from Exit 22, by Al Batt

She wasn’t happy that he had purchased the motor home.

She liked staying in hotels. The motor home didn’t have a swimming pool, a restaurant or room service. She liked those things.

He didn’t like hotels. He stopped liking them the day he came back to his room to find a mint on his pillow. At least he thought it was a mint until he ate it. It turned out to be a tiny bar of soap.

Al Batt

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He had to buy the motor home. He’d always wanted to see the country. Work had prevented him from traveling. Recently retired, he awoke one morning and felt something heavy pushing down on him — it was his hopes and dreams. He bought the motor home that day.

She told him to take it back, saying that he was crazy to spend that much money and that he couldn’t even parallel park their small car. She wished that the fellow who sold him the motor home would spend the rest of his life closer to the sun. She complained that they were living beyond their means. Why not? There’s more room there. When you see the light at the end of the tunnel, that’s the time to order more tunnel.

There was no going back. Once he made up his mind, that was it. Sure, he might have acted hastily. Metaphorically speaking, he might have toilet paper on his shoe, but what was done was done.

She was still ticked because he had told his joke the night before. The same joke he always told. He rattled on about a wonderful restaurant where the food was the best he’d ever eaten until a guest inquired as to the eatery’s name. He pretended to be deep in thought before asking the visitor, “What’s the name of that red flower with thorns that you give to someone you love?”

“Do you mean a rose?”

“Yes, that’s it,” he’d say before turning to his wife and saying, “Rose, what’s the name of that restaurant we favor?”

His wife, Rose, hated that joke with a passion. She claimed that he was so forgetful that it was the only joke he could remember.

He decided to visit his cousin in Denver. Rose dragged her feet getting ready, so he packed her bags and loaded them into the motor home.

They hit the road.

Not a peep came from the back of the motor home. It was obvious that Rose was miffed. She’d given him the silent treatment often, but never for this long. She was likely watching a DVD while wearing headphones. They silenced reality. She loved watching TV shows featuring people who looked familiar to him, but he had no idea what their names were.

He knew that Rose blamed him for things. He’d read that after years of marriage, man and wife begin to look alike. She was a beautiful woman who was not thrilled at being dragged down to his level. He tried wearing her eyeglasses once but he still couldn’t see things her way.

He might be a little forgetful, but Rose wasn’t perfect either. She plucked her eyebrows and then drew them higher on her forehead. It gave her a permanently surprised look. She emailed the kids and grandkids and then called them to see if they got the emails.

He was a hunk when they wed. He had a body like Arnold — Tom Arnold. He was educated. Not enough to get in the way, but he’d been to school. He didn’t have much when they first married. If they had divorced, she would have gotten one of his matched pair of lighted Grain Belt beer signs in the settlement. She stuck with him.

He drove a little too fast. Hearing no admonishment from Rose, he drove faster. He played polka music. Rose hated polka. He stepped on her feet when they danced. He played it loud. She didn’t like loud music, but she didn’t protest.

He drove 450 miles nonstop. He liked making good time. He forgot to eat and nearly forgot to stop for gas. Rose grumbled constantly about his forgetfulness. Forgetful? He remembered his uniform number from the 8th grade football team. As he listened to the numbers click on the gas pump, something clicked in his mind. He realized how much he loved Rose. He loved her so much that he almost told her once. He stepped into the motor home, determined to tell Rose that he loved her.

Rose wasn’t there.

He had left her at home.

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.