There are some stories that need to be told, and some days that need to be preserved in memory. This is not that kind of story, and this past Monday was not that kind of day. But I'm going to tell it, regardless, because it was such an entirely useless day that I feel I need to put it to some kind of use, if not just as material to practice telling stories.
"The pizza should be out of the oven at 7:30," Pete said at 7:20 pm on Monday.
"You'll be out of the shower by then, no?" I asked. The apartment was stifling and I had no desire to go near the hot oven that had been 'preheating' for the entire hour that I had been at Target.
"Yeah, I should be out of the shower by then."
"Pete?" I asked.
"I have a request. No, a demand." I sat on the bed, crossed my legs, and tossed the Target bag aside. "I demand that you play the High Society Music."
The High Society Music is a wonderful trick that I just discovered Pete can do. We had been watching the John Adams story, and Pete started "playing" along with the music in a party scene. He motioned like he was playing a little flute, then a little tiny mandolin of some sort, and a bunch of other instruments that I don't know the names of but always hear in the kinds of movies where men in wigs are dancing. Soon Pete started making noises like the instruments, and then his eyebrows raised really really high on his forehead, and it was just about the most fantastic spectacle I have ever seen: him humming and whistling and pantomiming about 10 instruments at once.
"I demand that you play the High Society Music," I said again. "Right. Now."
"Joooyyy," he groaned. "I'm not going to play the High Society music. I'm going to shower."
"No! Play it!"
Reluctantly he started playing a little air flute, then slowly added new instruments, until he was playing an unidentifiable brass instrument with a great amount of gusto. I laughed and laughed and laughed and rolled on the bed and laughed some more. Soon we were both laughing and being altogether silly, and a whole slew of inside jokes and bits started pouring out, until it was 7:30 and the pizza was ready.
Pete said, "Okay, go get the pizza. I'm going to shower."
"I don't want to get the pizza," I said. "Will you go get it before you jump in the shower?" He laughed, scurried into the bathroom and locked the door. I was instantly furious.
I knocked on the door and yelled over the noise of the shower, "I'm not getting the pizza! You said YOU would make the pizza! I always end up getting it out. I'm hot and I don't want to go near the oven."
I went back to sorting my Target items. 7:31. "I'M NOT GETTING THE PIZZA!"
7:32: "I told you, I'm NOT getting the PIZZA. It's BURNING!"
7:34: (Knock, pound, knock): "I told you, I'm not getting the PIZZZAAAA!!!"
I heard the shower turn off, and Pete said, "Wait. You mean the pizza is still in the oven?"
"You didn't get the pizza out of the oven?"
"No. I did not. Just as I've been telling you."
"Joy! I can't hear anything in the shower!" He got out of the shower, wrapped himself in a towel and went to get the burnt pizza out of the oven. "Thanks a lot," I heard him mutter as he stepped back into the shower.
By then I was feeling pretty stupid. But I still had my pride, unfortunately. So when Pete got out of the shower and asked, "Okay, now why didn't you get the pizza?" I was fully prepared to stand by my actions.
"Because I am hot, and the oven has been preheating for an hour. You said you would put in the pizza an hour ago. I came back from Target and it was thawed on the counter. You could have put it in the oven before you got in the shower, and I TOLD you that I wasn't going to do it. You got in the shower anyways, and I didn't take it out of the oven."
"So you let our dinner burn out of spite."
"Well, you ran into the bathroom even though you knew I didn't want to take it out. And I thought that was spiteful."
"Joy," he said patiently, as though I were four (which, at this point, could be logically argued), "Even if I were spite-ing you, why would you want to spite me?"
"Because, Pete. I'm not a better person than you. I'm just the same or worse."
At 9:00 pm on Monday I put a pan of brownie batter in the back of the car. I hadn't had time to bake them since we had made two frozen pizzas, but I would put them in our friend's oven and we'd have hot brownies halfway through the Heroes premiere. Pete got into the driver's seat and we made conversation as he turned out of our apartment complex, onto East Paris, and eventually onto 44th st. "Now," he said, "It's one of these little neighborhoods on the left."
"You have the address and directions, right?" I asked.
"No. I've been here before."
I took a deep breath. "Pete, we came here one time a year ago. It was daytime then. And we were coming from a different direction."
"Joy, it's fine. Well, it's not this one..." He turned back onto 44th st.
"Would you please call Joe?" I asked.
"I don't have my cell phone with me."
"Fine, I'll call." I looked through my purse, then remembered that i had changed jeans just before stepping out the door, and my cell phone was in the pockets. "So," I set out to clarify, "You are driving in the dark, depending on your memory from a year ago, and you didn't check to make sure you had your Blackberry with its nifty Mapquest feature that we are paying $30 a month for."
40 minutes later we pulled back into our driveway. The brownie batter had slid to one side of the pan. We walked up the stairs to our apartment and returned calls to let our friends know that we were alive. Barely.
"Well, what do you want to do?" Pete asked.
"I want to go to Family Video and get the next season of Seinfeld." So we went to Family Video, but they didn't have the next season of Seinfeld.
10:30, back at home, Pete presented me with my catalog that had come in the mail. He said, "You know what I think? I think that you should look through this catalog and get anything you want. And I'll pick up extra hours at work to pay for it. You work really hard and I'm sorry about tonight, and I want to do something to make you feel happy."
I leafed through the catalog at the wide-leg jeans that I've wanted and the winter coats and blouses, boots, cardigans.
"I'm sorry I let the pizza burn."
"I really wish you would plan ahead with things."
"I'll try to stear away from the $200 coats, even though they're really cute."
"I said 'anything,' Joy."
Softly, meekly: "Will you play the High Society music?"
"No, I'm going to bed." He started up the stairs.
"But I DEMAND it!"