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Home fires are burning

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By Ray Hanania

April 24, 2020

There have been a couple of times I went out to work at one of my offices because of the coronavirus; but over the past three weeks, I’ve spent most of my time working out of my home.

Sounds like a “vacation,” but it’s not. In fact, many media have been reporting that domestic violence has been on the rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I understand why.

Recently, I went to the icebox (my wife calls it the “refrigerator”) to get one of my favorite drinks, Cascade, a seltzer-like fruit flavored drink that has no calories, no carbs and none of the carcinogenic chemicals that plagued my former favorite drink, Diet Coke.

Right away, my wife chirped, “You’re not going to have another one, are you? You just drank one.”

I slowly opened the icebox door and put the unopened drink back on the shelf.

We were having dinner for Easter, and I reached out to grab some more of the delicious meal that she made, only to hear that familiar echo, reverberate in my brain.

“You’re not going to eat another one, are you? You have to watch your weight,” my wife said matter-of-factly.

My extended arm slowly returned to the perch next to my empty plate and my hunger.

Watching one of my favorite TV programs the other morning, my wife walked past with a basket of laundry and asked, “Are you planning to do anything today?”

Of course, my wife works hard; and being home, I see how much. But I have been working like a maniac these past few weeks, writing columns and helping clients. I don’t carry laundry baskets, but I am working, I thought.

“What do you want me to do?” I asked my wife in a very polite voice.

I have asked some of the most fearsome politicians questions that sent them off into tirades, like Mayor Jane Byrne, Mayor Rich Daley or Mayor Harold Washington. But I have never watched my words more closely than I do when asking a question of my wife.

I have learned through marriage that there are some things that remain unspoken.

When a wife asks, “What do you think of this dress?” Do you think I’m stupid enough to say, “I don’t like the color. It makes you look fat”? No, I give her my go-to response. “Wow. Beautiful. Love it. Great. Amazing.”

Of course, there is always the comeback line she has of hesitation, even after the most generous compliment. “Or, maybe I should wear this other one?”

“That looks great, too,” I am smart enough to respond. Who am I, Bob Mackie?

Marriage is not easy; and no matter how long you have been married, marriage has its moments.

But, these past few weeks in the home, going nowhere, I have had to watch my P’s and Q’s.

“Who you calling?” É “What are you doing on your cellphone?” É “What are you writing?” É “Wash your hands.” É You going to get out of your pajamas?” É “Didn’t you just eat a few hours ago?” É “That drink of yours (the Cascades) has so much sodium. You’re drinking too many.”

The question that gets me most: “Are you planning to take a shower this week?”

Oy vez mir, I want to scream! (A Yiddish expression of dismay or exasperation, which is Ya Rubbee in Arabic.)

I have to get out of the house. No amount of babbling from President Trump, Governor Pritzker or Mayor Lightfoot – why do I have to watch Lightfoot at all, I wonder as a suburbanite? – is going to add comfort to this unusual circumstance in which a husband and a wife have to spend so much time together.

“What are you writing about this week?” she asked.

“Nothing, honey. Nothing about you or our relationship, or about tensions. Just happy stuff,” I replied. “You know me, I just love happy stuff.”

I figure if the coronavirus doesn’t nail us, staying at home just might.

(Ray Hanania is an award-winning syndicated columnist who covered Chicago City Hall for nearly two decades “from Daley to Daley.” Read more of his columns and download his podcasts by visiting Hanania.com. Email him at [email protected])

Ray Hanania’s column is just a fraction of the content that appears in this week’s print edition of the Greater Southwest News-Herald. Want to get the all the news? Pick up the Greater Southwest News-Herald on local newsstands for just 75 cents a copy. For greater savings and convenience, call (708) 496-0265 during weekday business hours and order a subscription by mail, delivered each week to your home or business.

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