45: Roving Eye

45: Roving Eye

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

Roving Eye

To avoid mistakes and regrets,
always consult your wife before engaging in a flirtation.

~E.W. Howe

The first time it happens, we’ve only been married a couple of months and we’re driving to the beach. Everything is going splendidly. We’re chatting about this and that, the meeting he had the other day, the new book I’m reading, whether or not we’ll stop for ice cream later.

And then, just like that, the conversation comes to an abrupt halt. His head swivels toward the open window, his eyes riveted on some passing distraction. Despite the new bride beside him, he lets out a long, low whistle.

I take a deep breath as I scan the sidewalk for the object of his attention. Is she a blonde? A redhead, perhaps? Sleek and sophisticated? Wild and crazy? But all I see are two men in business suits talking on their cell phones and a guy in a muscle shirt with tattoos up and down his arms.

“Sweet,” my husband says.

That’s when I catch a glimpse of her. She’s sleek, all right. It’s hard not to notice how he looks with longing at the bold curve of her front, the subtle tilt of her rear. Her long nose goes with her lean body. She is classy. She is polished. She is… a roadster.

It has taken me a while to grow accustomed to these stolen glances. How the shiny flash of chrome and steel lures his attention away without as much as a moment’s notice. How the purr of an engine causes him to halt mid-sentence and forget what he’s even talking about. Forget everything around him.

Except for her. The fast one coming up behind him with her top down.

All these years later, I’ve become used to my husband’s love affair with cars. It is what it is. I never give it more than a passing thought.

But then, one sunny afternoon, we’re wandering down the street enjoying the scenery with no particular destination in mind when he abruptly stops. He turns and faces me.

“I’ve got a question for you,” he says.

“Sure,” I say, wondering what could change his mood so suddenly.

“If you were going to buy a Jeep CJ-5 and it were only available in two colors, say bright yellow or dark green, which would you pick?”

I start to laugh, but the sincere look on his face tells me he expects an answer. Doesn’t matter that we’re not in the market for a car. Doesn’t matter that I have no idea what a Jeep CJ-5 looks like. Just answer the question. Let me see. I like green. I like yellow. Don’t think. Just pick.

“Yellow,” I say.

“Great! So far, so good,” he says. He claps his hands and smiles. “Now, let’s move on. Mercedes 500. Midnight blue or red?”

“Blue.”

“That’s it. That’s the right answer!”

“It is?”

“We’re definitely on the same wavelength.”

“We are?”

Now that I’ve passed some sort of marital compatibility quiz, the kind they must publish in Motor Trend or Car and Driver, we walk off happily into the sunset.

Until a few months later when we’re actually shopping for a new car. I’m sitting in the dealer’s office, sandwiched between my husband and a car salesman, and somehow color doesn’t seem to be at the top of anyone’s list. Except possibly mine.

“Four-wheel drive?” asks my husband.

“Of course,” replies the dealer. “4-WD all the way.”

My husband’s eyes light up. “How’s the compression ratio?”

“Excellent. Coefficient of drag is decent. Torque’s right up there, too.”

“MacPherson struts?”

“Absolutely.”

“Rack and pinion?”

“Definitely. And check this out,” the dealer says, pointing to a photo in a brochure on his desk. “GPS navigation system. Accurate to 1.3 meters, give or take a centimeter.”

“Cool.”

“Yeah, well of course, there’s ABS.”

“Wheels?”

“Low-profile eighteen-inch alloy rims with five spokes.”

“What do you think, dear?” My husband turns to me, searching my face for some sign of approval. The dealer waits anxiously for my reply.

I want to say something like I want a car that starts up when you turn the key. I want a car that’s good for hauling the kids and groceries. I want a car I can drive without a degree in mechanical engineering.

I want to. But the words won’t come. So I just smile a low-profile-kind-of-wife smile and say to my husband the only thing I can think of:

“It all depends on if you know the right answer to my question.”

“What’s your question?”

“Moonlight silver or jet black?”

 

~Rita Lussier

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