I’ve injured my wife enough times to make most reasonable people would wonder why she married me. I’m not abusive–don’t worry–I don’t even like being violent to insects and plants, much less beautiful ninjas who know where I sleep. I’m just big and clumsy, and my wife is frequently around.
I had to spend entire decades of my life mastering my oafishly large body so that I could keep it from flailing out of control like a psychotic marionette. It takes a lot of effort for someone my size to keep from accidentally crushing smaller folk or bumbling into the obstacle course of painful objects that smaller folk call civilization. Adding another person to the mix was harder than I anticipated. Suddenly I had to make sure I wasn’t flailing her around or bumbling her into things. Sometimes I failed. Well, okay, I failed a lot.
It started back when we had just begun dating, back when we were both in seminary. We went for a walk in the snow, which probably sounds simple enough. Nearly everyone had gone home for one of the winter breaks, so the whole campus looked clean and happy; we wanted to be out in it. It was like the beginning of a fairy tale, all we needed was fancy medieval clothes and a following of talking animals. I like to think we were pretty cute at the time. We were also doomed.
You see, snow was still fairly new to me so I couldn’t anticipate any of the subtle dangers snow can cause. I’m from an ugly swampy place that’s barely habitable because of extreme heat and the presence of angry mosquito swarms. The snow was cold and pretty. Also, at no point did it seem to want my blood. I thought that meant it was friendly. How was I supposed to know what to expect?
Everything seemed fine–we were being playfully adorable like any giddy new couple–and then I thought it would be fun to throw my wife into the snow. She had thrown a handful of snow at me or some such, so it wasn’t entirely unprovoked, just ridiculously disproportional.
In my defense though, I tried to be gentle and careful. I planned to lower her slowly to the ground, more like dipping in ballroom dance than any sort of wrestling move. After that I figured the snow would be soft, like the puffy cloud it resembled. Even more, I thought the grass underneath would be plush and squishy; the weather had only just changed and done it suddenly, so none of the grass had died.
What actually happened though was this:
I started dipping my wife quickly at first, for dramatic effect. About half way to the ground I slowed down. Unfortunately, my wife didn’t. Discovery #1: smooth gloves don’t grip smooth winter coats. It was almost as though my wife’s coat was covered in cooking spray, or had been greased for some mysterious job in an engine. She slipped out of my hands as though I weren’t even trying to hold her at all.
For the briefest of moments, I thought she might be ok. I thought the snow and grass would cushion her fall. They didn’t, but it wasn’t their fault. Discovery #2: snow camouflages terrain. Rather than flinging my wife into a few inches of fluffy snow on comforting grass, I flung her into an inch of snow on concrete. I hadn’t realized it, but I decided to dip my wife while standing right next to a sidewalk.
Her head went CLONK. I felt so bad. I imagine that I wouldn’t even have been upset if she had broken up with me; it would have seemed prudent and necessary. If it had been a Steinbeck novel, someone would have shot me for my own good. Discovery #3: my wife is not Lennie’s puppy. While the impact stunned her a little bit and hurt, my wife saw my reaction and realized that the whole business had been an accident. Sure, she still teases me about it, but her response was to lie in wait like the ninja she is, then box both of my ears with handfuls of snow while I was distracted by trying to make sure she was alive.
Thus we gained the first of entirely too many stories that begin, “One time I injured my wife by….” The only thing more surprising than the number of stories itself is the diversity of methods covered by that ellipsis. Here are some examples: “…by grabbing her face.” “…by throwing her into a chair.” “…by strangling her with a blanket.” “…by startling at a movie.”
More on all of those another time.