“Sweetie, we need to talk,” my wife said.
Four words that strike fear in the heart of a husband.
“Am I in trouble?”, I asked.
My technique for dealing with these terrifying statements is just to meet them head on. I’m not saying I’m full of courage or anything either. I used to run and hide under the bed in my son’s room, but she always found me. Well, truth be told, I did it once, got stuck and had to call for help. But she still found me. And she still needed to talk.
“No, not in trouble, per se.”
“Per se? What exactly does that mean anyway? It’s probably some ancient Latin or Greek that we’re just toting around thinking it means one thing and it probably means something all together different, like an execution. Or maybe it doesn’t mean—”
“Sweetie, you’re not in trouble, okay? You can look it up later. I want to talk about your blog,” she said.
My mood totally lifted. She’s been so supportive of all the time it takes and such a great sport about me writing about her. I have a feeling there’s a big support package/compliment coming my way. I’m pretty good at intuiting these things, so I just launch right in with the attitude of gratitude.
“Aw sweetie, you’ve been so supportive. Thank you for helping me get my blog off the ground. You really don’t need to keep complimenting me so much, but I do so enjoy the praise,” I replied.
“I’m concerned about how I’m being portrayed.”
“Portrayed?”, I asked. She took me to a communication workshop once where they taught us to keep asking questions, often just repeating the last few words we heard to make the other person feel heard. For an oft clueless guy like moi, this has served me well.
“In the dialogues you write and publish. Our friends and family think they’re real.”
“Stop making questions out of everything I say. That workshop was ages ago. I feel like I come off poorly in your blog.”
I resisted saying ‘poorly?’ and then replied, “Are you serious? You mean they don’t know I just make all of this up to make people laugh? Didn’t we tell the whole family that I’ve been writing Creative Non-fiction?”
“Yes, but that’s the point. No one really knows what that means.”
“It means that I get to play fast and hard with the truth, whatever that is. Doesn’t everybody know that ‘Based on a True Story’ is pretty meaningless. You could make a movie where George Washington was a space alien, and as long as a few basic things are true, it’s still based on a true story.”
“People think it’s all real, verbatim. That you’re just writing down the conversations we have and publishing them.”
“Really? That’s so bizarre. I mean, even right now I’m making this conversation up. This isn’t happening. We never had this conversation, right?”
“That’s right, but when you write it down, people think it really happened. If that’s the case, I want to be more sympathetic.”
“That’s so sweet of you, Beloved! “ That’s so like her to be thinking of me at a time like this. “But honestly, I don’t mind looking like the clueless one in this relationship. I think it helps the flow.”
“No, not sympathetic to you. I want my creatively non-fiction character to be more likable. More sympathetic. More like me in real life,” she said.
“You think you’re not likable? That’s crazy! Half of the comments I’ve gotten so far say things like, ‘Your wife’s so funny and adorable. We want to see more of her!’”
“I sound a little curt and bossy sometimes.”
“Well, I could always tell the story of how you healed all of those sick children and brought that cute little kitty cat back from the dead. Or the miners you rescued, the plane you helped land after the pilot had a heart attack, and the millions of dollars you raised for orphans around the world. People would be trampling down your door to adore you.”
“But I never did any of that.”
“That’s why they call it CREATIVE Non-Fiction!”, I said triumphantly.
“Hang onto your hat there cowboy, I just want to come off a bit warmer, like the real me.”
“Okay, I will take note of this creatively non-fiction conversation we’re not really having and relay it to my readers.”
“That would be lovely,” she said. “Otherwise, the writing is great. I’m your biggest fan and I love that you’re finally doing your blog! Oh, look at the time! I have to go, my love. Pope Francis is Skyping me in a couple minutes to find a way to feed more of the poor and get women ordained as soon as possible.”
“Good luck with that, sweetie! Put in a good word for birth control while you’re at it?”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my breathtaking, profoundly lovable, sympathetic, and creatively non-fiction wife.
“So how’s that?”, I ask after she finishes reading the post in bed.
“You don’t think it’s a little creatively over the top?”
“No, I think it’s pretty close to the truth of who you are,” I reply.
She sighs, rolls her eyes and says, “And you’re sure it’s not too Saint-like?”
“Either way it’s based on a true story, right?”
She laughs, rolls over, turns out the light and says, “Come sinner. Make yourself useful and keep your favorite Saint warm.”
Oh, and she’s got a great sense of humor too.