I hit my husband - smack! - in the eye around 2am last night. It wasn't premeditated. I was trying to be nice.
You see, I woke up with my baby trying to let himself down off the bed by twisting around to throw his legs to the floor. I kept dragging him back up, and he fussed at me like "Darn you woman! I have places to be!". While in the midst of this wrestling match, I realized I had a hobbit-like creature snuggled between my legs. Thankfully it turned out to be my preschool daughter who sneaks into our bed at night and lies across our feet or uses our bottoms and thighs as pillows just so she can sleep in our already overcrowded bed.
I knew who was the most uncomfortable person in that room, however, and I turned to him where he lay as straight as a stick trying to keep his body warm beneath a 4-inch wide swath of sheet.
"Honey, do you have any blankets?" I asked.
"No," he answered immediately and clear as a nonsleeping bell.
I started throwing bedclothes in the air toward his side of the bed. He sat up a little to grab them, and bam! my hand that was energetically flinging the blanket in his direction made good contact with his eye at which point he keeled over and hit the pillow with a thud, instantly drawing his knees up in the fetal position.
I rubbed his shoulder, "Honey, I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! Did I get your nose?"
(I always assume it's the nose; I'll explain later.)
"No, my eye," he mumbled.
I'm always knocking out my husband. Sometimes in the middle of the night like on this particular occasion, sometimes as we're trying to get settled for bed, and sometimes when we're being amorous. It's never intentional. I think it's my depth perception.
So I got out of bed and with one hand attempted to wrest some more of the blanket from under our sleeping preschooler to throw over my husband as a parting gesture of penance.
I could hear the seams in the cheap quilt ripping.
"I've got it; I've got it," my husband said gruffly.
I left to spend the rest of the night in the recliner. That's where Matthew found me this morning.
"Is your eye okay?" I asked.
"Yes. But you're always trying to mark me," he said, goodnaturedly. He then pointed to his neck and eye as he elaborated, "Here and here. I'll show up to work and people will ask, 'What happened there?' 'My wife.' Well, but what happened there?' 'Still my wife'.
Well, the neck - that's because I pretended, or really tried according to him, to give him a hickie. My husband's in HR; he thinks hickies are entirely inappropriate for someone in his position. I do, too - believe me! But I think it's fun to tease him by acting like I'm going to give him one in plain sight above his shirt collar, at which point he always recoils from me and exclaims, "Don't mark me, Woman!"
Still, I was laughing with him this morning, because it was funny now that he didn't seem to have a noticeable black eye, and I was also remembering something that had occurred a few years before.
It happened on one of those nights when we couldn't get comfortable together as we tried to fall asleep. His shoulder felt too bony, and he didn't like me throwing my leg across his middle. I didn't want his arm under my neck, and he wasn't laying straight across the bed like he should be. We were shifting and flopping around as if performing some kind of complicated mating ritual, beginning to giggle like two kids, when at last I turned my back to him and plopped down dramatically, my head landing on something that felt like a sensitive appendage.
I sat up in the dark and turned toward him in concern.
"Oh, sweetheart...I'm sorry! I didn't mean to hurt your nose!"
There was a beat or two of silence before Matthew answered slowly and suspiciously, "That...wasn't my nose. It was my elbow."
I burst out laughing. It was loud enough to wake up the children, but I couldn't control it if I tried; it was sponteaneous hilarity.
The fact that I had mistaken his elbow for his nose, that anyone could mistake someone's elbow for their nose, was just so ridiculous I couldn't help laughing like a wild hyena. (I mean we both have large noses, and we know it. I always tell people when they're admiring our engagement picture, "That's just two big-nosed people staring at each other", but an elbow-sized nose? I don't think so!)
But the reason that may have sustained the laughter so long was that my mistake smacked of sweet revenge, even if it wasn't actually by design. For all the jokes Matthew'd made about my large feet and clodhoppin' tennis shoes - revenge! About my poor eyesight - revenge! About my crazy dancing! About my prominent, Cleopatra-worthy nose - ahh-hahaha - sweet, delicious revenge!
Eventually, it became embarrassing, my laughter, as it came out in snorts and hiccups, especially since Matthew was asking every little bit, "Are you done yet?" with tolerant self-composure.
I quieted myself and snuggled down by him once more, prepared to sleep the sleep of the revenged and the innocent, but I couldn't help it; the laughter started to wash over me in a fresh sea of mirth, the giggles rising like a cresting wave.
Matthew had had it. Ready to go to sleep, to halt his wife's mirth over his elbow-nose, he desperately uttered a phrase that lives in infamy in our household, the first ever, completely original and absolutely unfathomable Matthewism that will forever be repeated at all opportune moments with fresh laughter:
"If you can't be quiet...Shut Up!"