Like most married couples, Chrisie and I have developed our own language over the years. We may speak English, but certain words and phrases have meanings unique to our relationship. Some are recognizable to others and I imagine other couples would have little difficulty sussing their meaning. Some seem at fist familiar, but take on a deeper context. Some, of course, a pretty straightforward, such as when one of us says, “Honey, I need you.” What follows, however, is rarely straightforward.
When we were first married, Chrisie usually said, “Honey, I need you,” when she needed me to do something such as take out the trash, zip up a dress, or hang a picture. It really only became different after we moved a TV into our bedroom. One time, I was in the kitchen when she called to me from our bedroom.
“Honey, I need you?”
“What?” I called back.
“I said, Honey, I need you.”
It was evening, we had nothing to do, and only child was fast asleep so I excitedly ran to the bedroom. I’m not sure exactly what I was suspecting (yes I am), but what I found was my wife laying on the bed watching television.
“Okay, I’m here. Uh, what can I do for you?” I asked (somewhat hopefully).
“Can you hand me the remote.”
“Of course I can hand you the remote.” I just kept looking at her.
“Will, you hand me the remote?” she sighed. Still looking.
“Please?” she finished sounding annoyed.
“Sure. Where is it.”
“Right there.” I turned around but couldn’t see it on the entertainment center.
“I don’t see it.”
“Not there. It’s on the bed.”
“Aren’t you also on the bed?” I asked as I turned around and scanned the foot of the bed for the remote.
“Yes, but I’m too tired to get it.”
“You’re too tired to pick up a device that’s sole purpose is to keep you from getting up?”
“Will you just get it for me?”
“It’s right there!” she said and pointed. I finally saw it.
“Um, you realize it’s a foot away from your hand, right?”
“I didn’t measure.”
“Yeah, but it’s right there. It’s not far away from you at all. You just have to stretch a bit.”
“Let me get this straight. You called me, who was in the kitchen across the house, to come in here and hand you the remote which is a few inches from your hand?”
“And this doesn’t seem strange to you?”
“Will you just get it?” I made a show of slowly pushing it toward her hand until her fingers could grasp it.
It was not the last time we had a similar conversation. In fact, we have had that conversation several times. Of course, in all fairness, I also use the phrase. When I do, it is usually to get Chrisie to provide a service that she alone can do.
“Honey, I need you,” I called from our Family Room.
She walked in and said, “Okay, I’m here. What’s up?”
“I need you to take care of something . . .”
“I bet. You know I’m cleaning, right? I don’t have time for that.”
“Not that,” I said and pointed to my issue, “that.”
“That, on the floor?”
“You mean the spider?”
“Yes, the spider. On the floor. Will you take care of it?”
“You called me in here while I was cleaning, clear across the house to handle a spider?”
“It’s a spider. Have you met me?”
“It’s not that big.”
“That’s debatable. What isn’t is that it’s crawling toward me . . .”
“It’s across the room.”
“I know! It’s only twelve feet away and it’s heading right for me!”
“So get up and take care of it.”
“I can’t do that!”
“Because it is a spider. Look! It’s moving faster! Please get it.”
“I can’t believe you called me in here for this. Are you five? Why didn’t you just step on it?”
“I’m barefoot, and even if I wasn’t I don’t want spider on my shoes.”
“Throw something at it then.”
“I might miss. Then it would scurry away in a creepy spider way and hide until I was asleep and stalk me. They are evil like that.”
“Oh for pity’s sake.” She finally stepped on it, which was good as I may have started screaming like a little girl if it got any closer.
We have had this conversation more often than any about remotes.
Chrisie and I say, “Honey, I need you,” to one another regularly. We use it for the trivial and mundane as well as the important. We use it for remotes, for spiders, for the moment we learned Chrisie was pregnant with our daughter, for the time a dear friend passed away, for a random quiet morning without the children, for the time I hated my job, and the time I loved my job, for the early morning hours we watched our son struggle to breathe, for watching first steps and first skinned knees, for joy, for sorrow, for anything and everything, and from one to another. We weaved those words into the fabric of our marriage to craft a comforting blanket that provides warmth and familiarity. But the best aspect is that in every situation the reply is always the same.
“Okay, I’m here.”