The bulls make money, the bears make money, but the hogs get slaughtered, a famous warning from the gurus on Wall Street. Greed takes many forms but it is never good. It demands. It feeds selfishness and it will ultimately consume its creator. Greed always backs the looser, especially in a marriage.
Annamarie, a thirtyish financial adviser, petite and feisty talked business from her cell phone while she raced down the Long Island Expressway into Manhattan. Her passion for perfection was matched only by her husband’s love of simplicity.
Harry, a Robert Redford type, looked more like a student than a college professor. His easy going, laidback personality suited campus life and made him a favorite among the students. The young couple resided in a classic little cape cod near the beach. They shared their common ground with Oliver, a retriever mix from a local shelter, who faithfully stood guard until they returned at the end of the day.
Like most young couples, they shared the chores. Annamarie carried the laundry basket to the basement while Harry yelled at the television during the football game. Oliver was sidelined. That was their Monday night ritual, the yuppie version of Upstairs, Downstairs.
Tonight Annamarie was exhausted. Perhaps, that’s why she exploded when she found Harry’s tools carelessly strewn about the laundry area. “Why can’t he put his stuff away?” she muttered. “He always leaves this mess for me. I bet Bob Vila wouldn’t do this to his wife!” She collected the tools and laid them on his workbench just a few feet away, then loaded the washer.
She confronted him at half time and voiced her complaint. “Harry, I don’t mind doing laundry in the dungeon, but must it look like Fred Sanford’s back yard?” Her huge black eyes glared at him.
“What are you talking about?” He stared at the TV.
“That mess downstairs,” she growled. “Is it that hard to put your things away? Really Harry!”
“Oh Honey,” he said patiently. “Why are you making such a big deal?” He sat on the edge of the sofa waiting for the kick off.
“If I find your stuff there again, I’m going on strike. No laundry.” She folded her arms across her small frame. “I mean it Harry.”
“Sure, sure Honey,” he said. “Isn’t that the buzzer for the dryer?” Harry was too much of a gentleman to just ask her to disappear.
“Okay! I’m going. But, remember what I said.”
“Yea Honey,” he mumbled. “You’re right.” He suddenly sprang to his feet.
“Oh no! I can’t believe he fumbled the ball.” Harry slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand then sank back into the soft suede sofa.
Annamarie had thrown down the gauntlet but her husband had missed the move entirely. So, she wasn’t surprised when she lit the laundry area the following Monday night, and found another collection of tools scattered like litter along the highway. “That’s it!” she bellowed. “I refuse to deal with this. He’s had more than a two minute warning.” She dropped the wicker basket on the floor, marched upstairs, and blocked the TV screen.
“H o n e y!” His voice sounded like an old creaking door. “What are you doing?” Harry quickly go up and escorted her by the elbows to the sideline without taking his eyes away from the action.
“Nothing,” she said. “That’s why I’m standing here. I’m not doing any more laundry. I just wanted you to know.” Annamarie left without fanfare.
A week passed. The laundry multiplied like the loaves and fishes, but the subject was buried. Before she went to bed that night, she checked Harry’s closet. One section was conspicuously bare. She had him where she wanted him. He was down to his last shirt, the one he hated with the missing button at the collar. It was all over. He’d be furious in the morning. She had scored a field goal in the last seconds of play. How delicious!
Then, she looked again. This time the empty hangers stared back and rattled her conscience. They rekindled the battle between right and righteous. Suddenly she felt challenged to keep the one she loved content and surrender to the little war. Love is always kind and never seeks it own way. It keeps no record of wrongs.
Quietly, Annamarie descended the stairs, and recalled another saying: “If you want to make friends on Wall Street, buy a dog.” In other words, follow an out of favor strategy. She switched on the lights and sorted the clothes. She resented being there. The washer hummed rhythmically. He shouldn’t take her for granted. She loaded the dryer. He was definitely wrong, she reasoned, then plugged in the iron. A clean fragrance rose as the steam and starch mingled above the pressed cotton. Her mood lightened with each dressed hanger until all twenty-two shirts were lined up like soldiers.
Harry snored softly. Freshly laundered shirts filled the empty corner of his closet like a surprise from the tooth fairy when the cow jumps over the moon. Annamarie crawled into bed and traced her body next to her husband. She felt the soft hairs on his chest press against her back as he gently pulled her closer towards him.
“Honey, why are you up so late?” he whispered while still half asleep.
“I had some things I had to work out,” she whispered back. “But, it’s okay now.”
“Good. I can’t really sleep until you come to bed.” He kissed her shoulder.
Annemarie sat alone at the kitchen table with Oliver at her feet. She stared, in a dream-like state, above the swirls of steam that rose from her coffee. She had recalled this story many times over the last three years, since Harry’s fatal car accident. He had just turned forty. They kissed that morning, then left for work. We never know when we say goodbye if it will be forever. We can only abandon the greed of ego, trust love, and surrender the little wars.
Roseanne Pellicane 2012