"I Love Your Son, But He's Nasty"

Mara hurt my feelings this morning and never even got out of bed. Mama drove me out to the truck, and on the way she was talking about how Mara had been in a bad mood Saturday and had been kind of snippy. Well, I’d already heard Mara’s side of that story. I imagine there’s a lot of truth in both stories. Mara has a way of saying things that can cut you to the quick in just a few words, if that. Mama can certainly be frustrating, preferring to drop hints when she wants something, instead of just asking. This actually has nothing to do with the reason I’m writing, except perhaps to illustrate that I live with two wonderful but equally frustrating women. And, well, it explains how the subject came up in the first place.
Apparently Mama asked if my one set of dirty clothes was all I had. Mara made Mama angry by saying something like “it’s surprising there’s that much. I love your son, but he’s nasty.” At first that really hurt my feelings. Now I’m kind of angry about it, too. As usual, Mara doesn’t know what the fuck she’s talking about.
This stems from truck driving. Mara and I always tussled over the issue of showers when we were on the road together. Mara wanted to shower every day, which isn’t really feasible in truck driving. You shower when you can. The load takes precedence over everything else. Well, there were plenty of times when she wanted to shower and I didn’t. This usually happened when, a couple of hours into her shift, Mara would stop to shower and I’d have to interrupt my sleep period (sleep is a truck driver’s most precious resource) if I wanted to shower (accompanied by natural grumbling). Or the times when my stated belief that the load took precedence over personal comforts caused friction on tight runs. It was pretty common to hear Mara declare on a FedEx or air freight load that she didn’t care who liked it, she was going to take a shower after we delivered. Given her recent statement about me being nasty, I can assume that she thought I didn’t like water.
Okay, I’m angry, but this has mostly hurt my feelings. My wife thinks I’m nasty? There’s not a stray paper in the floor of my truck. I straighten it up every day before I start driving. By contrast, I practically had to shovel the trash out of our van (which is primarily Mara’s domain) yesterday when I bit the bullet and cleaned it up. I’m the one that’s nasty? The same could be said of the house. The few pockets of order amid the chaos were created by me, not Mara.
But that’s not she meant. She meant personal hygiene. Well, I don’t imagine that I shower as often as Mara does. Or brush my teeth as often. Quite frankly, I don’t have as many opportunities. And sometimes when I’m home I’ll put it off just because our bathroom is so nasty. There’s ancient mold and mildew in the bathtub. The shower curtain feels slimey. There’s hair on the walls. Long ones from where Mara has stuck her stray hairs to the walls while she was showering. Short ones from where Mara has shaved her legs and tapped the hair out of her razor onto the tile. Neither of these things is unusual or nasty until you consider that Mara just leaves it. Someone should ask her when was the last time she took a scrub-brush to the tile in the bathroom. I’m as guilty as anybody. I haven’t cleaned it. But I’m only home on the weekends. Mara is there every night. And my weekend thing is a recent development. Prior to that I was gone for weeks at a time. Mara’s been home every night for the past eight months.
Okay, so the comment was about clothes. Let’s look at that. I have plenty of shirts but only three pairs of jeans. On a normal week I’ll come home with all three pairs of jeans dirty, having showered once before leaving and twice on the road. Then I’ll shower when I get home. Not a daily shower routine, but pretty good considering the realities of my job. I have worse weeks. There have been times when I’ve run hard and have been in freight lanes out in the boonies. I came home once and hadn’t had a chance all week to shower. I assume things like that is what Mara’s referring to. I don’t guess she realizes how miserable I am at times like that.
This week the only reason I came home with just one set of dirty clothes week was because I didn’t leave until almost midnight on Tuesday. I showered and changed clothes on Thursday. I was wearing those clothes when I came home on Saturday, figuring on showering at home. So there was only one set of dirty clothes in my bag. I was wearing the other set, and reserving the third for after my shower.
I dunno. I’m running out of steam on this. I’m hurt but mostly disappointed. Every time I think things are good between Mara and I she punches me in the gut like this.
I may not say anything to Mara. Mama is already worried that I’m going to jump on Mara and that Mara, in turn, will jump on Mama. And she will. So I’ll be cool for now. But I can’t help wondering. If there are so many things about me that Mara doesn’t like, why in the world are we married?

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