My husband Jack is not cheap. He is a generous tipper, the first to pick up a tab and never arrives anywhere empty-handed (a case of beer, a pizza and wings are his go-tos). But he despises waste and extravagance and has never been able to wrap his head around his wife’s love of clothes and shoes. He’s reluctant to toss out anything where I am constantly out with the old/ in with the new. Neither one of us was raised in a wealthy household and his biggest source of pride is that we will be able to leave our own kids with a not-too-bad inheritance. We’ve made the marriage work for almost forty years but lately he’s become more vocal about my purchases.
A beautiful box has arrived. A green background, strewn with pink and chartreuse peonies, banded on all sides with a strip of burgundy. It’s a work of art holding promise for what is inside. When I take them out, I gasp. The boots are everything I imagined and more. Their photos from the high-end online store did not begin to do them justice. Like the box they are colorful, a whirl of pink and turquoise, a mix of vintage and edgy. I unwrap the tissue, eager to try them on. I dream of the outfits I will build around them, the places I will wear them while fielding admiring comments from strangers.
Uh oh. These cobblers not only did not scrimp on the packaging, they also did not scrimp on ensuring that these masterpieces would arrive intact and in shape while they made their overseas journey to my door. These boots are stuffed with plastic, cardboard and Styrofoam. I tug at the Styrofoam. I hate Styrofoam for its heinous environmental impact and today I hate it even more. Instead of slipping out intact, it crumbles in pieces and flakes, littering my couch and rug. Try as I might, it is in there tight.
I am limited by the tendon surgery I had on my right hand ten years ago. Since then I have never been able to bend my wrist fully. For the past six months pain in my left hand and wrist has become almost paralytic. Today I can’t flex either hand to extricate this damn stuffing.
I grab a wooden spoon and stick the handle down trying to shimmy it enough to grip and pull. Nothing. It won’t budge. Shit, I think. Because I know what I have to do next and then the jig will be up and my ruse will be uncovered.
I’ve got to have my able-handed husband get this immoveable packing out of the boots. Which means I’ll have to tell him I bought new boots. Which means I’ll have to listen to the inevitable ‘more shoes? you don’t need more shoes, Liz’. Never angry. Never accusatory. It’s just part of this game we’ve been playing for years.
Here’s how it goes: Trying to dodge detection I sneak new stuff into the house. Wait until he’s out or out of sight before I whisk it into my closet. Then..
“Is that new?” he asks as I don my ‘just-clipped-off-the tags shirt/sweater/shoes.
“No. I’ve had it awhile just never wore it before.”
Today though the jig is up. I’ve got to admit the truth.
“Can you help me with these? I can’t get the inside stuff out.”
His eyes narrow as he complies and sure enough:
“Are these new?”
“Yup,” I admit. They were my Christmas present to myself.”
Just a shake of his head and he hands me the free-to-go boots. Later, as we are heading out the door for dinner he says,
“You look great in your new boots, hon’. Merry Christmas.”
January 24, 2022