I have, once again, disappointed my husband. This time I didn’t attend a Major League Soccer final in the pouring rain while pregnant, nor did I lose the owner’s manual to my mini-van. (That’s long gone). This time, I used too much gas. And it’s yet another example of how, though we live in the same house and have the same children, my husband and I live different lives.
My husband Pete’s car is just so. That’s the best way I can describe it. It’s not exactly clean or perfect — my son took care of that by leaving the back door open while Pete was backing out of the garage. It’s just set to his liking and his only. My mini-van, on the other hand, is a sports equipment/beach chair/snack pantry/garbage can on wheels that serves my kids, their friends, the soccer team and various neighbors on a daily basis. It is not just so. It is just a mess.
Many years ago when we kept the kids’ car seats in the van, I’d borrow Pete’s car to go to the gym on Saturday mornings to undo the effects of a week of at-home motherhood by sweating it out near 20-something men checking out their abs in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors. After the gym, I’d undo my workout by buying a sesame bagel with cream cheese and eating it in Pete’s car.
My subsequent sesame deposits on his just so car floor apparently so disturbed Pete, he attempted to retaliate by pouring sesame seeds from a jar in our spice rack onto the floor of my mini-van. Days went by, but I never commented about the sesame seeds, largely because I didn’t notice them. Pete, bursting with frustration over his failed retaliation, asked me about them.
“Are they next to the lollipop stick or the Goldfish cracker crumbs?” I asked.
Our cars were prime examples that we led different lives though we lived in the same house, and they still are. A few weeks ago, I drove Pete’s car while he took mine to be serviced. The next day, he voiced his disappointment in me once again. It appears that I ruined his gas mileage average, whatever the hell that is. All I know is that I drove down the big number that’s displayed on his dashboard from 20.7 to 20.5 simply by driving his car around town. And that’s bad.
Pete was working hard to use less gas so that that number would go up, not down.
“What did you do?” he asked.
“I did what I always do: I drive like my front bumper is on fire and there’s a puddle just around the bend,” I answered.
Now, I know he was being “green” and all, but really it’s all about saving money more than the environment for him. That’s why the heating settings in our house mysteriously dropped a degree this year, and why Pete is forever shouting down into the basement whenever he finds the light on, “Who’s down there?”
And it’s not that I’m not environmentally friendly. I mean, I do use natural soaps and cleaners, and I’m the one who runs around feverishly unplugging appliances that aren’t in use. It’s just that I’ve got places to go, and I need to get there quickly.
While Pete pretty much drives 13 miles to work and then 13 miles home and not much more than that, I have driven 122,000+ miles since 2002, most of it in circles around town. I’m the one who gets the kids to soccer, piano, art, blah, blah, blah most of the time. Also, as a self-employed individual, I don’t have people to mail things for me and such like he does. I have to go to the bank, the post office, the bookstore, New York City, all by myself. Pete doesn’t. That’s why he can even pay attention to that number on the dashboard in the first place, and I didn’t even notice it.
He’s back to working that number back up, mile by mile, coasting down hills and never gunning his engine as he drives the 13 miles to work and and the 13 miles back. I, on the other hand, see a puddle up ahead.