When The Wife’s Away


Sir Isaac Newton once said, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Well, for a really smart guy, and the inventor of the tastiest cookie ever, Sir Newton sure didn’t know what he was talking about when it came to my dad.

For every action I took doing something I thought was a good idea, it created a much bigger reaction from my dad when he finally found out — especially if he and Mom were gone and left us kids alone for the day with nothing to do.

You see, most of my good ideas went horribly wrong. The lessons learned? When parents are away, children will play. And play we did while growing up at 110 Flamingo Street.

Those times are long gone, and so is that foolish little boy. Or is he? Last week, The Wife went away for a three-day business trip and left her poor husband home all by himself with nothing to do.

Actually, I did do something – I got into a whole lot of trouble when she returned. Trust me; it was really easy to do. I’ve had years of practice. Here are just some of my good ideas.

The good idea: After The Wife leaves early in the morning, immediately lower all the thermostats in the house to 60 degrees. With the high cost of heating nowadays, seems like a good idea.

Besides, what harm could it do? Our two cats are covered in fur, the dog is outside during the day, and I can pull on a jacket. By noon the cats were cuddled together shivering so I took a blanket and covered them — another good idea, or so I thought.

The lesson learned: don’t use the expensive blanket that has to be dry-cleaned to cover cats. Turns out it’s cheaper to turn up the thermostat after all.

The good idea: Don’t make the bed. This action is easily defended simply by using the same logic I did when 8 years old. Why make the bed when you’re gonna climb back under the covers at night? Think of all the time you can save during the day. Time well spent coming up with additional good ideas of things to do.

The lesson learned: Furry, cold cats really do like to play and lie all over soft sheets when you’re out of the house. Not only will you spend loads of time doing loads of laundry trying to get rid of all that cat fur, you’ll be out shopping for new sheets.

Seems a bazillion claw holes, despite countless tries, don’t wash out after all. If you’re careful, The Wife will never know – unless, of course, you write about it in the newspaper.

The good idea: Finally do those many projects around the house that you never seem to have time to do. Install a new ceiling fan in the bedroom. Paint the kitchen a new color. Build the garden retaining wall and order a truckload of fill dirt.

The lessons learned: Ceiling fans can’t be installed correctly. Especially if cats use parts as play toys, then hide them.

Let The Wife pick out the new color for the kitchen. If not, you’ll have to paint it again when she gets home.

Build garden retaining walls first. Then order the truckload of fill dirt. Otherwise you will have a huge pile of dirt at the end of the driveway for months — and a not so happy wife for an equal amount of time.

Yep, when The Wife’s away, the lesson I’ve learned is that I can do anything I want. Unless, of course, she’s left a note of things she doesn’t want me to do.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, is in his third decade as a firefighter and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is saferick@bellsouth.net. His books are available at www.RickRyckeley.com.]