The View From Mrs. Sundberg's Window

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There’s Hope In Laughter

November 9, 2004

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. There were jokes all over the place and I'll tell you, for a few minutes there I thought I just couldn't listen. I was feeling pretty low and thinking nothing could make me laugh. Mr. Sundberg and I had an argument that morning, one of those that leave you reeling with a kind of "what just happened?" feeling. I honestly can't tell you what we argued about. It started with a discussion about the election (I make a habit of telling him I voted for the least competent person, just for a little fun — only he didn't laugh this time). Somehow we ended up talking about the dent in the car and the pair of boots I threw away because they were falling apart and smelled like clams. And then all hell broke loose.

If you'd wandered up to the house and looked in the window last Saturday morning, you wouldn't necessarily know we were arguing. We don't throw pans or books. We don't holler. We don't slam doors or windows or our fists. It's more like a stand-off. You know, when two wild animals meet in an open field and stare each other down until one either charges or backs away. I prefer charging, myself, though I like to work up to it.

So there we were in a kind of electric silence. He wasn't happy with how I was doing things and I wasn't happy with his unhappiness with me. I'd made shredded beef in white sauce on toast for lunch and he wrinkled his nose and made a huffing sound as he walked through the kitchen. That's when I charged. I began by suggesting he walk on over to the cafe and have a sandwich for lunch. Or better yet, cook your own lunch. I named the seven meals he's made since we met and said he ought to diversify and try cooking something that isn't white or flaky. Then I poured the shredded beef in white sauce down the toilet and gave it a flush and threw my potholders out the back door and stuffed my apron into the garbage, as far down as I could. (It wasn't one of my favorite aprons. It said "Hot Tamale" on the front and was stamped with little green and red peppers. Mr. Sundberg brought it from a trip to Texas where he gave a series of motivational speeches on control issues and the importance of letting go.)

He sat there at the kitchen table, staring at me. “What,” I said. He kept smiling. What!? "I had an itch,” he said. “In my nose." And he began to laugh. Watching him, I thought about how weeping uncontrollably and hollering and laughing all feel pretty much the same. There's some kind of hope in each, but laughter makes you feel like you've been dipped in rice pudding and rolled in light.

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