Romance, rats and shoelaces hardly are kissing cousins when it comes to being related to each other yet, somehow I managed to lump the three together! It all was so innocent and began when I had just cleaned up from a hard days work and was sitting on the couch with the love of my wife for eighteen years, my wife. She was looking lovely as ever. It was early in the evening and we were leisurely sitting in front of the flickering glow of the TV set. Although we were all alone on the couch, we were not at all, all alone. Strategically seated around the room were all six of our children, each one in their personal favorite spot. With that setting, I could tell that romance for the evening was going to be tough but still, I was going to try. I was not embarrassed to show romance to my wife in front of the kids. They had seen us smooch and snuggle too many times to count and each of those countless times were enough to gross them out. They freely showed true feelings by their reactions of gagging or complaining or both simultaneously. With those visions vaguely on the back of my mind, I leaned close to my wife’s ear and whispered these six little words;
“Sweet nothings. Sweet nothings. Sweet nothings.”
I was whispering sweet nothings into her ear. In between crunches of the corn chips she was munching on, her response to my romantic gesture was, “What”?
I tried to tell her to hush because I didn’t want it to be obvious to the kids that I was trying to work my romantic magic. After all, any couple that was near the forty-year old mark should not be romantic, at least according to them. Their biggest nightmare was to see their own parents being romantic! How terrible could that be?
Looking around, I noticed that not a kid had seemed to have noticed nor had any one of them lost their focus on whatever it was they were doing at the time. That gave me reason to be encouraged enough to try it again. Once more, I whispered the same six words.
“Sweet nothings. Sweet nothings. Sweet nothings.”
Ah, but the second time, her response was different. She turned to me and repeated what she had heard.
“Sweena, sweena, sweena? Who’s Sweena”? she asked as she took another corn chip and put it in her mouth.
Instantly, I began to question the futility of the situation but decided it was time for me to step things up and take desperate measures. Taking her face in my hands I kissed her long and deep. Then I said the next six little words that popped into my head.
“You smell like a rat, Dear”!
What I said and what I meant were two entirely different things! Of course, after my bold statement, it was at that exact moment that the radar of each kid came on. Normally, anytime an adult spoke, their radar was turned off. Not then. It was up and running. Full blast!
Glancing over his shoulder, my sixteen year old son said, “That really sets the mood for romance, Dad!”
Our fourteen year old daughter then said, “Smooth move, Dad”!
Of course, her comment was followed by, “Way to go, Dad” from my eleven year old son.
His seven-year old brother chimed in and said, “”Awe ver! Dad said Mom is a rat”!
Not to be outdone, our four-year old daughter said, “Dad!”
And last but not entirely least, our eight month old baby girl had to get her two cents worth in. For some reason, she simply started to cry.
It was at that precise moment that the whole ball of wax of romance, rats and shoelaces came together. All I was trying to do was to be a little romantic but when I mixed in the part about the rat, the shoelaces naturally had to follow!
My wife looked long and hard at me then spoke her feelings on what I had just said, thus, the introduction of the shoelaces.
“You just stuck your foot into your mouth, Mister”!
Quickly, I tried to cover my verbal tracks by saying, “I mean, your breath smells like a rat.”
Wrong line number two!
Glaring in my general direction, she continued by saying, “You just stuck your other foot into your mouth, Buster”.
I could see the ice beginning to form over any romantic attempt I was going to put forth from there on. And yet again, I tried to come to my own rescue.
“It doesn’t smell like a rat all the time”.
“You just swallowed both feet, clear up to the laces of knee-high army boots! Thanks a lot, Dear!”
With that said, I knew I had just put a polar icecap on my own iceage which was going to last a very long time, especially if I didn’t stop before I got any further behind.
By that time, none of the kids had any idea of what was on the TV nor did they didn’t care. As it turned out, I was more entertaining than anything they could ever think about viewing on the TV!
Looking back on it so many years later, I still ask, “How was I to know that one little ‘rat’ comment could cause such a big stink”?
All I could do that night was to head off to bed, pull the covers over my head and wait for the thaw. One CONCLUSION I have learned from all I had been through was this: Corn chips, when eaten, will always smell like a rat! And whatever a husband may do, he must never tell his wife what her breath smells like! Never!
PS: This is another one of the stories I wrote about 1996. As said before, since that time, I have discovered white, unlined and uncolored paper; pencils and erasure for rough draft sketches and colored pencils to add color to my sketches. Has my artistry improved? Probably not but I still love giving it a try. Hope you liked what you just read.