I pick her up after work. No time today: I change out of my office clothes, grab my cleaning supplies, and hit rush hour traffic in time to sit motionless between intermittent bouts of speed.
Everyone should relax between jobs.
She jumps into the car as I roll up.
“You ready to clean?”
“I am ready to shake a rag, I’ll tell you what!”
We do this, sometimes, Mary and I, clean houses. It keeps us in touch with our humble roots, gives us the satisfaction of meaningful labor with immediate results.
But mostly, it gives us a chance to look at other people’s furniture.
The iPod plugged in, we wind our way through the streets of Edina looking for tonight’s house.
“I ate the most wonderful thing today.”
I turn to stare at her as long as one can while still driving. When someone throws out a statement like that, it’s best to let them finish unaided.
“A donut,” she says, a smile playing lightly on her lips.
“A donut,” I say.
“A maple and bacon donut.”
I turn to stare again.
“I know! I know!” If you wait long enough, Mary will chastise herself with no effort on your part at all. “What can you do to make a donut even more fattening? Bacon!”
“Was it good?”
“It was better than good,” she says dreamily. “It was like getting away with something.” She stares out the side window as her voice resumes its normal tone. “Of course, afterwards I felt the need to atone, so I took a brisk walk.”
“That would have to have been a pretty brisk walk, a bacon-and-maple donut…”
“Shhh,” she says, raising an index finger to her lips. “I’m thinking about donuts.”
For the rest of the evening, Mary wandered by me, vacuum or rag in hand, only to mutter the words “bacon donuts” out of the side of her mouth.
And I was left to ponder the powers of salt, sugar, and fat.