A Sensible Man

By Francine Garson

My husband is a sensible man. Practical. Responsible. Intelligent. And certainly logical. Mitch protects his back by bending his knees when lifting a heavy suitcase and doesn’t wear suede shoes in the rain. In fact, he doesn’t even own suede shoes. He knows what to do when what-looks-like-a-red-sailboat, but turns out to be the oil indicator light, appears on the car’s dashboard, and he understands terms like amortization, working capital and rate of return.

Mitch is easygoing and well-adjusted. As the owner of a wholesale tire business, he manages to keep customers, vendors and employees satisfied, and sometimes even happy. He doesn’t get angry at our children when Jenna loses her cell phone again or when Michael’s glasses turn up twisted into a plastic and metal pretzel after a fraternity party. On the face or in the case, remember?

No, Mitch remains even-tempered and calm. His mantra is, “I don’t worry about things I can’t control.” Even the rough air that sent an airline serving cart crashing into a bathroom door on a recent overseas flight didn’t disturb his iPod-accompanied snooze. My husband is rational, calm and sensible.

Usually.

In my world, September means driving slowly behind yellow school buses, feeling the first hint of chill in pre-autumn nights and thinking about wearing closed-toed shoes again. Empty lifeguard chairs dot our New Jersey beaches and a temporary Halloween store appears in the mall. A single reddish-gold leaf decorates the maple tree in our backyard.

But to my husband, early September signals one very important event, certainly more important than cooler weather or plans for a Labor Day barbecue. In small towns and in big cities, in Florida and in Texas, September marks the beginning of football season in America. Fans head to stadiums or plant themselves in front of televisions in order to watch men in numbered team jerseys throw, catch, run and crash into each other. In New Jersey, caps, windbreakers and travel mugs in either New York Giants blue or Jets green sprout up in supermarkets and shopping malls. I have learned that true fans never mix colors. In our house, from September through December, my husband’s weekend wardrobe takes on the decidedly patriotic tone of Giants’ blue accessorized with red and white.

So with each September, my practical, rational and decidedly un-superstitious husband, the man who can’t understand the irresistible appeal of a turquoise handbag that doesn’t match a thing in my black, white and denim closet, and who has no problem with plane flights on Friday the thirteenth, is transformed. No, he doesn’t turn an incredibly hulk-like green, nor does he raise his voice when Jenna calls about a misplaced credit card. But suddenly, in addition to my scribbled reminders of birthdays and dental appointments, Mitch’s neat handwriting crops up on our master calendar. Each Sunday space from September through December, with the occasional Monday, is carefully inscribed with the Giants’ kickoff time. Fortunately, in the twenty-nine years of our marriage, none of our friends or family has had the audacity to plan a wedding or a reunion on a Football Sunday. And as Mitch’s conversations with Michael move from our son’s new job and his life in Chicago to discussions about offensive line protection and running games, I hear him say, “We look good this year.” I no longer question the “we.” When my husband claims the overstuffed beige chair in our family room as his seat, I know that football season has truly begun.

As I stock the house with cashews, pretzels and beer, Mitch prepares too. He removes his cap and t-shirt commemorating the Giants’ Super Bowl win in 2008 from their protective plastic, replaces the batteries in the television’s remote control and charges his cell phone, which he uses for strategy consultations with Michael during time-outs and half-time breaks. I accept Mitch’s belief that his chair’s position in the room, whether or not our cat is sleeping on his lap and the fact that he wears his lucky Giants t-shirt will affect the outcome of the game. Knock on wood!

And I never, ever speak to my husband during a game, not even when the red sailboat shows up again.

As fall turns to winter, I take my boots down from the closet’s top shelf and stuff gloves into the pockets of my quilted jacket. The grayish sky promises an early snow. I shop for holiday gifts and stock up on mini-marshmallows in preparation for days of hot chocolate and shoveling. Mitch spends Sundays in his chair surrounded by nuts, pretzels and beer. The television’s blare is punctuated by his screams of delight or groans of despair. An occasional burst of clapping interrupts the steady rhythm of my husband’s agitated pacing. And I tell myself that the sensible man who I married will return when football season is over at the end of the month…unless of course, the Giants get into the playoffs!

About this writer

  • Francine Garson A former college counselor and law school administrator, Francine Garson’s work has appeared in All Things Girl, Still Crazy, WorkLifeGroup.com, Writer Advice, and WritersType. Her flash fiction received a first place award from the League of American Pen Women in 2010.

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