I ferried my laptop to the kitchen table and brought up my novel-in-progress. A poppy-orange dawn filtered through window blinds and the coffeemaker hiccupped sighs and I relished being the only human in our house awake, tapping the pg dn key, feeling so smart for carving out private-time, feeling: cocky, the excessive type an Olympian experiences before failing epically at her best, most treasured event in front of millions and millions of critical eyes.
I came to ninja-crawling across tile towards the sectional. As the morning progressed, I jerked my chin at those hailing me as they passed through the family room to: nuke chocolate chip pancakes, play the piano, joyfully powerwalk. Eventually, my husband pried the TV remote from my fingers and switched the channel from the yeti documentary that no one will ever watch with me, even when I beg (you’ve got to see the yeti scalp, please), to hockey and my husband must have asked if he could change the channel, he would never not ask, nevertheless I was distressed when hockey interrupted the young National Geographic explorer entering the Tibetan temple resembling a She-shed and approached, fingers stretched, the yeti scalp. My husband flopped next to me and began sports-clapping-shouting at the TV so passionately, he righted my dire slump on the sectional.
After a while, hockey sucked the vivre out of my spouse and he shuffled, aged, to the breakfast bar and his own lurking PC. I watched him pull up his works-in-progress and it was then that I cracked, because: meddling with his writing tugged my husband’s lips into a smile so honest, it was concrete, sun-blessed, glittering confidence.
I can’t write, I blurted and there were tears and snot and pointless gestures. It’s over, I said. My writing is undercooked halibut. Chardonnay-free, sugar-free. No dairy. My writing isn’t even Akmak–worse, not Fritos. My writing is so skinny, it has completely disappeared.
My husband’s smile dissolved into a sympathetic moue. I heard the clack of the freezer making ice. An inherited clock chimed the wrong hour. By the fireplace, our elderly lab snored on the hearth, dreaming deeply.
But is your writing pub cheese.
I believe it is.
My husband slid his PC aside, leaned his elbows on the breakfast bar.
So here’s the thing, he said. I’ve devoured pub cheese for 15 years, bypassing crackers, digging in with a spoon. I am rich and whole and satisfied and better when I eat a tub of pub cheese. I’ve eaten award winning pub cheese and I’ve eaten simpler, horseradish-less pub cheese, but it’s all good. Every tub. 15 years of delicious tubfuls, babe. I’m a f***ing pub cheese expert.
My husband laughed. Our tween loped by with a contented cat in his arms. Thundering up the stairs, our tween laughed, too.
16, I muttered. 18, if you count dating.
Pub cheese. Really?
Let’s watch the yeti scalp.
My husband flopped down on the sectional and hooked an arm through mine.
And we did, we watched the entire documentary, beginning to end.