“Do you notice anything different about me?” Melinda asked me tonight while getting ready for bed.
I don’t think there’s a sentence that’s more capable of striking pure terror into a husband’s soul.
I looked her up and down, scanning for some change I may have been too preoccupied, drunk, or stupid to notice. Usually, when Melinda asks me this question, it has something to do with her hair or makeup, but since we were getting ready for bed, both of those things were NOT the change I was supposed to notice.
“Why don’t you just tell me so I can apologize for not noticing it,” I said.
She frowned. “You really can’t tell?”
I get that this is a cliched interaction, but I promise that I don’t notice because I enjoy playing into the oblivious husband trope. I think it’s just one of those things where you see someone every day of their lives, and after a while, you stop noticing the details in an objective way.
I mean, I’m certain my 2-year-old has grown since he was born, but I never look at him and go “you’ve grown two inches this month!” My only measuring stick for his growth is that the Baby Shark PJs that were once swimming on him now fit like a wetsuit.
Melinda let me twist in the wind for another few beats before telling me her new regimen of cleansers and lotions and whatever eye of newt toe of frog she’s using has made her skin much smoother.
“I’m so glad, honey,” I said.
“You don’t see a difference?” she pressed.
Again, I was stuck. Because if I said yes, she’d know I was lying to validate her, but if I said no—or played it safe with an “I always think you’re beautiful, darling” line, she’d dismiss it as a cop out.
I picked door number three and went with pure honesty. “I don’t, but I’m really glad that you do.”
She grumbled, and to re-secure my footing, I attempted to turn the tables.
“Do you notice anything about ME?”
At this point, I was just playing a game of I Spy, picking some random characteristic about myself and forcing her to guess it. I went with my beard, which I’ve been growing in for the winter. It’s so obvious, there was no way she’d guess it!
She evaluated me for a minute. “Other than your beard?”