“Oh, that thing on the mantel?” I said. “I saw that.”
“Then why didn’t you say anything about it?”
“I figured you had your reasons for putting Venetian blinds –”
“ – It’s an old plantation shutter.”
“ – a plantation shutter on the mantel, where there is no window, by the way, so what would it have mattered if I had commented on what you did?”
“You could have said, ‘Nice piece of decorating.’ Or, ‘I hate that shutter on the mantel.’ ”
“Well, whatever. By the way, I also noticed that little table you put by the kitchen counter, but you don’t have anything sitting on it.”
“Does everything need to have something on it?” she asked. “It’s decoration.”
“But it’s also a table,” I said. “People usually put things on tables. Take dining tables. People put tablecloths on them to protect them. Then they put a saucer to protect the tablecloth from the hot cup of coffee. But I figured you knew what you were doing. That, or you’ve gone insane and maybe had spent too much time staring through the shutter to the wall behind it.”
She’s right, though. Normally, I don’t pay much attention to decorating changes. She once painted a wall and, months later, asked me how I liked the new color.
“What new color?”
Recently, I decided to turn the tables. It was a Saturday, and we went to a number of stores. Lowe’s, then Target, then back to Lowe’s, then a grocery store and the drugstore. I think a restaurant was somewhere in the middle of all that.
When we started out, I put a CD in the car’s player and went to track No. 3, which was Come and Get It, an upbeat late-1960s song by Badfinger. I pushed the repeat button, and each time we got back into the car that day, Come and Get It played. The song would end, then play again. Over and over.
My wife in the passenger seat never said a word about it. Finally, as we neared home, I told her I had redecorated the car. She looked around at the mess and came up empty. I gestured in the general direction of the stereo.
“You got a new radio?” she asked.
“When have I spent money?”
I hinted that it was about what was coming out of the speakers.
“Oh, you mean the old music you’ve been playing? I noticed that but didn’t say anything.”
“Not just old music,” I said. “Old song. One song. All day long.”
“Oh, you know I don’t pay attention to music in the car.”
And that was that; discussion over. Let me fail to notice that a white wall is now beige, though, and I get an earful.