It seems like only yesterday but it’s been about 35 years ago. It’s something I like to remember when I think about Carmen or when I find myself wondering “what was I thinking?” I like the old memories about lessons I have learned but I try not to live in the past.
I came home from work that evening about 7:30. Late, but not too late, it had been a long day and I was tired. We were working against a deadline and had uncovered a problem with the firmware. I had worked the better part of the day with Randy and Maureen to find and fix the problem. We all felt pretty confident that we had identified the issue, nailed it down, and we wrote some new code to address it. We burned a PROM and the test system was looping overnight. If all went well it would still be running the next morning and we could begin regression testing. Randy could start the paperwork, the damned paperwork. I was glad it was Randy’s turn to write the ECNs.
I turned to push the front door shut and my beautiful, hot blooded, passionate wife, Carmen, came into the hall. “You don’t appreciate me.” She announced. She of the long thick dark hair and green eyes that sparked.
“How come you never tell me that I look nice? Today, at the plant, two separate guys told me that I looked nice. You never tell me that I look nice. Screw you, Paul.”
Carmen worked in Irwindale at a place that made fasteners. ‘Screw you’ was a throwaway line when you made nuts and bolts for a living. She spun on her heel and went back in the den and sat down in front of the TV. She said nothing else the entire evening. I was frozen out. The silent treatment. It was a miserable night. It was cold in the house.
By morning, Carmen had begun to thaw out a bit, but only a little. At least she was speaking. “You’re on your own for dinner tonight,” she said tersely when I handed her a cup down from the cupboard. She picked up the coffee pot and as she filled the cup reminded me that tonight was the night she had volunteered to work at the library.
I nodded, “I remember. You look really nice today Hon.”
“Screw you, Paul.” She took her coffee, picked up her car keys and her bag and walked out the front door, slamming it behind her.
I poured myself the last of the coffee and exhaled slowly. Then I headed back to finish getting ready for work. Carmen will be fine by tonight, I thought to myself.
It was a little after nine when I got to the office. Lee Ann was sitting at the front desk and I swung by to check for messages. “How’s Bill doing Lee Ann?” I asked her knowing full well that this would precipitate a long, drawn out story about what was going on at home. I cringed a bit but I endured it and as I turned to go deeper into the building looked over my shoulder and said “You look really nice today Lee Ann.”
I spent the rest of the day doing regression testing with Maureen and Randy. I made a point of telling every married woman I encountered how nice they looked.
Every morning from that day on I would tell Carmen she was beautiful. She was beautiful too, I never lied. Well, never about that anyway.
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