When my husband finally walked in the door three hours after his usual arrival time, I didn't greet him with a smile and a kiss, but instead accused, "You're late."
"I said I'd be a bit late, when I called" he replied, with his usual Midwestern calm. "There was a problem and I lost track of things."
"Three hours is NOT a bit," I snarked. "Twenty minutes is a bit. Three hours is unacceptably late."
"What's really wrong?" He could always see right through my behavior.
"Everything I write is crap," I said. "And my column is due tomorrow. I forgot to pay my cell phone bill and it cost seventy-five dollars to get it reinstated. I ruined dinner and I'm too tired to cook anything new, and your dog ate my t-shirt." I was in tears by the time I finished my litany, but my husband was smirking. "Stop laughing! It's NOT funny!"
"Not to you," he said. Then after a beat he added, "Come here."
"You were late." I pointed out. "You come here."
He crossed the room and pulled me into his arms. The tears started flowing again, but he just held me and let me cry out my frustration. After a few minutes, I felt calmer, and I lifted my head from his chest.
"Better now?" he asked.
"A bit," The faintest teasing note colored my tone.
He kissed me on the forehead, and then peppered my lips with tiny bunny kisses. I smiled in spite of myself, then began kissing him back. The mood was beginning to shift to something more passionate when there was a canine shriek from outside.
"Where's the dog?" my husband asked, only just registering the lack of a canine presence.
"Out in the yard," I said. "I was afraid I might do something horrible to him."
"You wouldn't have," my husband said. "You love your dog, but we should go see what he's up to."
We walked hand-in-hand through the house and out to the yard. He pulled the door open, and I yelled, "Maxwell, come!"
There was no response.
"Max! C'mere Monster Dog!"
A scuffling noise , closely followed by a frustrated growl, came from the side of the house.
"Maxwell, come!" My husband had to try.
"Looks like we go to him," I said. I went back inside to grab a handful of treats and we went to investigate the latest doggy disaster.
Maxwell, our big, spotted, mutt, was playing tug with the brick veneer at the corner of the house. The porch light highlighted the crumbled bits of mortar on the ground.
"Maxwell, stop that!" I ordered, as my husband yelled for the dog to come NOW.
Maxwell trotted over, a chunk of dusty, red brick in his mouth, and a smug expression on his doggy face. He dropped the brick at my feet and sat, waiting expectantly for his treat.
I wanted to throttle him, but my husband sensed that, and said, "Good sit, Maxwell."
I tossed a treat, and Maxwell caught it effortlessly.
"C'mon, Max," I said, and we went back inside.
"Crate him, and I'll take you out for sushi," my husband offered.
"Deal," I said. I ordered Maxwell to bed, and accepted his slurpy kisses before locking the door and feeding him another treat.
Later that evening, over sushi and plum wine, I quipped, "You know, when the shelter people warned us that this dog would eat us out of house and home, I didn't think they meant it literally."
My husband merely laughed and poured more wine.