You’d have thought a naked Heidi Klum had popped out of a cake and handed him a winning lottery ticket AND a new reciprocating saw.
“You mean, you really can’t talk?” he said, making no attempt to conceal his glee.
“My voice is gone,” I hissed. “I woke up and … zip!”
“Don’t try to speak!” my husband commanded, leaping from his recliner. “I read somewhere that whispering is worse for you than talking in a normal tone.”
“You mean, in the swimsuit edition?” I wheezed, eyeing the perennial Sports Illustrated issue on the coffee table. “That cover girl must be into long walks on the beach and otolaryngology.”
“Ssssh!” he said, pressing his fingers to my lips. “Save those precious pipes.”
As he skipped off to the garage (yes, he was literally skipping), I knew what he was thinking: “Woo-hoo! No moody outbursts! No complaints about the thermostat! No ‘honey-dos’ and ‘honey don’ts’! No ‘we don’t talk anymores.’”
After 31 years, a raging case of laryngitis had just bought the big lug a hall pass.
For the rest of the day, as I silently drowned my sorrows in herbal tea, lemon and honey, he bounded merrily around the house — waving, patting my head, pantomiming words and phrases.
“I (pointing to his eye) love (pounding his chest) you (pointing at me).”
“What’s with the sign language?” I croaked in a stage whisper, from my perch on the sofa. “I’m the one who can’t talk, not you.”
“I’m setting an example,” he said. “You really need to stay quiet. We need a code. I know! Slap your knee. Two slaps for yes; one for no. OK? Try it!”
I gave my leg a couple of swats. I’d have preferred taking aim at his head.
Don’t get me wrong. I understood what was going on. I’ve never been a silent partner in anything, especially my marriage. Few things in life render me speechless, much to my partner’s dismay. So, as difficult as it would be to relinquish verbal control over our relationship, I would try my best to do it. Because everyone deserves a break, once in a while. Even middle-aged bikini oglers.
My valiant effort lasted exactly three hours.
I tried. Really, I did. I attempted to stay on the couch and go with the flow. But soon, I was following him around, miming orders like a deranged Marcel Marceau.
“What is it?” he cried, for the hundredth time. “What do you want?”
I gestured madly. Pointing to my throat. Chugging an imaginary glass of water. Falling dramatically to the floor.
“Are you thirsty? Your water’s right there on the counter!”
I shook my head violently and shoved three fingers in his face.
“OK, OK! Three words!” he sputtered, because he loves Charades so much. “First word. Sounds like …. “
Animatedly, I pointed to the bottom of my shoe.
“Feet. No? Sneakers. No? I know! Sole! You want filet of sole for dinner, right?”
Head shaking, I gestured toward the dog’s feet.
“Mud!” he said. “Yes? YES! OK, sounds like mud. Thud…crud….dud…flood…spud!?! That’s it. SPUD! You want potatoes with your fish, right?”
My head was swaying wildly now. I shot him the peace sign.
“OK. Second word. Whatever...”
I squeezed my head with both hands, as if in a vice.
“Pain! No? Headache? You have a headache. No? Oh, oh! It’s that freaky painting right? What is it? ‘The Scream!’ You’re doing ‘The Scream!’ Of course! OK, mud-scream….spud-team… flood-beam….crud-theme…”
I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Blood pressure medicine!” I squawked in his ear. “I need you to pick up my blood pressure medicine at Walgreens!”
“Why didn’t you just show me the empty bottle?” he asked. “You’re such a drama que…”
“Stop!” I rasped, breaking the silence. “I can’t do this. Vocal cords be damned. There is no mute button here. I don’t DO mum!”
He shuffled out of the room, muttering something about needing a nap before the drugstore run. The door to the bedroom clicked shut. Glancing at the coffee table, I noticed a void where the swimsuit edition once lay.
I was tempted, but I decided not to press the issue. This was a man whose brief trip to the Promised Land had been cut short by an alpha-female Chatty Cathy. He needed quality time with women who couldn’t talk back.
I would give him that. For, at least, 15 minutes. And, perhaps, a new reciprocating saw for his birthday.