We don’t have too many house rules. The top shelf in the left cabinet is full of contraband (food to which they’re allergic) and must remain untouched. Shoes go in the shoe bin. Even if you hear Mom or Dad say “damn it,” you’re not allowed to say “damn it.”
Things like that.
Another rule, often stated at the onset of a wrestling match is “you roughhouse at your own risk.” We do plenty of it, but if someone sustains a bumped elbow or a toss off a bed, she does not get mad about it, because of the rule.
After years of marriage, Jack and I have gotten thoroughly used to each other’s quirks and mannerisms, with perhaps the exception of one. In the morning, his pre-set alarm will go off. He does not hear it, but it wakes me up — every nine minutes after I shake him until he hits snooze and it happens again. (That quote about insanity and vicious cycles applies here.)
I have become Pavlov’s dog, but the bell is a Verizon Wireless ringtone, and instead of asking for food, I am irritable and cranky. Even if I’m awake, downstairs, in the kitchen, lovingly cooking a pot of oatmeal, I’ll hear it, and the alarm won’t stop until I call his phone to deactivate the alarm.
It is hell.
“I hate your alarm,” I am supine, staring at the ceiling, growing in rage.
“It’s not that bad. You’re just very sensitive to sound,” he reaches over and smacks his phone with his hand. While true, it still solves no problem.
“I’m bringing you back for a refund,” I tell him.
“No refunds. Too much time has passed. You only get store credit, and I’m only good for a big pile of lightbulbs.”
“Fine. Lightbulbs don’t use alarm clocks.”
Two mornings later, and I’m up early. I head to the gym, come home, shower, get dressed, and while I’m making a cup of tea in the kitchen, I hear it. The ringtone. I groan, call his phone until his phone chimes with a separate ring, and hang up.
“Good morning!” I sing-song, a severe side effect of smugly getting a workout in before 6a. There’s a gentle back pat. An arm rub. Urgent whispers of not wanting to be late. A tug-of-war with a duveted-quilt. A more vigorous arm shove. Two feet firmly placed against his back as I will him towards the edge of the bed with my leg muscles. He swats at my ankles, eyes still closed. It devolves into a typical-of-our-household wrestling match, and in an accidental whip of the torso, one strike right to my face.
I hear a crunch and my nose is bleeding. I’m clutching at my face while Jack grabs tissues and repeats a staccato let-me-see-let-me-see. A minute later and Remmy is in our bedroom, looking concerned, while Jack has one arm around me and I’ve got a faceful of Kleenex.
“I can feel you trying very hard not to laugh,” I mutter, shrugging his arm off my shoulder.
Jack breaks into a fit of giggles. “You don’t understand. The first thing you said was, ‘Oh my God, my nose. It’s my only nice feature.'” He pauses and quickly adds, “You have lots of lovely features.”
All three girls have gathered now, and I re-enact the blood, blood, BLOOD scene from Zootopia for them.
Two ibuprofen and an ice pack later, we don’t think it’s broken. But my teeth hurt, the post-workout buzz has faded, and frankly, everyone seems just a little too chipper. I’d complain, but I know the roughhousing rule.
Doesn’t mean I didn’t just order a shake-and-wake alarm clock and five Nerf guns off Amazon, though.