Commentary: After months in self-isolation, my wife and I are finding out stuff about each other

Commentary: After months in self-isolation, my wife and I are finding out stuff about each other
Mike Ippen
Mike Ippen says while his wife doesn't like how places the dish towels on the stove handle, he isn't fond with the kitchen drawers not being fully closed.

We’ve been in self-isolation for just over two months.

My wife and I, we’re doing OK, all things considered.

It’s not like there’s many surprises after 35 years together, but suddenly, thrown together for long stretches of time, we’re finding out stuff about each other that either, we were too busy to notice, or there were other things more pressing.

For instance, I refuse to neatly fold the dish towels when they are replaced on the stove handle. My method has always been to jam the wadded towel in between the stove and the handle.

But according to my wife, there’s an essential aesthetic that I am failing to grasp. She has moved beyond re-folding the towels in stoic silence, to the clearly audible sigh, to the actual scold.

I have since obeyed, but in the interest of fairness, I lodge a formal complaint about the kitchen drawers not being fully closed. I mean, sure, open the drawer to pull out a bowl, or a fork, but why can’t you close the drawer all the way?

Our cupboards hang agape, as if a burglar was interrupted half-way through the crime. I like how loud they sound when I slam six of them shut, usually in time to that Phil Collins opening riff from In the Air Tonight. Judging by social media posts I am not the only one who needs the cupboards closed.

So we’re even, and if that’s the worst of it, I got no complaints. We share some overlapping TV interests: Killing Eve, Seth Myers (recorded since it is on way past my bedtime), reruns of the Great British Baking Show, the local news ( I hope you’re watching the Upside on CHEK, it’s genius
TV, I am convinced either Ed or Jeff or both are high, which makes it even more fun).

But it’s music preferences that will be our undoing. I am not totally proud of the fact that the ‘80s hold a special place in my heart, but my wife gets unglued with repeat renditions of Come
On Eilean, or anything by Depeche Mode. her tastes run to Leon Redbone, Serena Ryder and Leonard Cohen. It’s enough to make a Martha and the Muffins groupie cry. A truce is reliably signalled with Northwest Passage or any Stan Rogers song, so there is hope.

We are lucky, considering the real hardships so many are facing, whether it’s job loss, being unable to visit relatives in extended care, postponed knee replacements or being isolated without a garden or workshop to retreat into when things get squirrely.

I don’t know when this is going to end, or even if it will end in a way we can recognize the familiar we’ve left behind during those last weeks of winter.

I do have a suggestion for hotel managers in Victoria and Vancouver, and it’s not even facetious: how ‘bout, when it’s safe, they advertise a special for locals, since out of town tourists are discouraged for the indefinite future. I’d call it The Better Half Long Weekend! Come Stay Downtown — by yourself.

You’ve survived months of sheltering in place as a couple. Your marriage is looking a bit rough around the edges.

So why don’t one of you come on down and enjoy the city, admire the views, take in the sights, table for one you say?

Perfect. Listen to the Best of the ‘80s on your earphones, without the stink eye. And, like magic, a long weekend later you return home, missing your beloved, ready to resume the self-isolation tango once more.

Unless she swipes the car keys and races out the door to her own downtown oasis, without you.

Double win?

Mike Ippen lives in Central Saanich. His new novel, Saint Illuminator’s Daughter, is available on Amazon and Indigo. When not writing, Mike may be spotted in his garden feeding hummingbirds or passing judgement on delinquent squirrels.

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