My friend gave me a plaque that read, “My next husband will be normal.” I didn’t realize how fitting it was until the morning I announced to the husband, “I’m taking a quick bike ride. I’ll be back in half an hour.” He nodded, heading toward the garage to tear apart a motorcycle.
After pedaling a mile down a deserted dirt road, the strength began to drain from my body like air leaking from a balloon. I felt like the Energizer Bunny without batteries. My legs went limp like cooked linguini and my body folded up like a cheap lawn chair. Then everything went black.
I awoke in the ditch with the heavy bike across my chest. Bits of gravel were embedded in my skinned palms. When I tried to sit up, the world began to spin; so I lay back down in the dirt.
I had no choice but to wait for someone to happen along and help me. “The husband be along any minute,” I reassured myself. I assumed that when he realized I’d been gone too long, he’d worry and come looking for me. I was wrong.
I spent most of the morning there in a rain puddle with rocks and a Pepsi can digging into my back. Each time I started to stand up, I felt like a marionette without strings.
I pulled a cigarette butt from my hair and spit sandy grit from between my teeth while watching dead leaves, gum wrappers and other litter blow past me.
Bees buzzed around my head, ants crawled up my shorts, and Japanese beetles tickled my thighs. Meanwhile, the sun grew hotter as it rose higher in the sky.
I lay there for what seemed like 18 hours, and I didn’t have on my 18-hour bra!
After a while, I became painfully aware that the husband was not searching for me. Giving up any hope that my knight on horseback was coming to help, I muttered to myself, “If I want to get home before the winter snows come, it’s up to me to get myself there.”
When I felt some strength returning, I used the bike for leverage and pulled my woozy body up on quivering legs. Slumping over the handlebars for support, I trudged home while mentally rehearsing what I would say to Sir Galahad when I got there.
Staggering into the front yard, I heard whistling in the garage. I shouted weakly, “I passed out in the road and waited for you to come looking for me!” The husband looked up from his project but said nothing.
“Weren’t you worried about what had happened to me when I didn’t come right back?”
“I didn’t notice how long you were gone,” he replied.
“I was gone half of the day!” I yelped. He stared at me with a puzzled look.
“I could have been flattened by a moving van or a beer delivery truck!” I said. I was angry enough to spit hammers; but he still just stood there, silent. I wondered if, while I was gone, he’d been zapped by a lightening bolt and struck dumb. He wiped his hands on a rag and shrugged, as if he couldn’t understand what I was upset about.
“My inward parts could have been spilling out all over the road,” I ranted, “I could have been devoured by wolves, weasels, or wild cats!” He just scratched his head.
“My eyes could have been plucked out by vultures, coyotes, and hungry arachnids!
Vermin could have been feasting on my flesh… but you didn’t even miss me!”
“Sorry,” he said, then turned around and started back toward the garage. Suddenly, he stopped and looked back. I waited expectantly for some delayed display of sympathy.
“Oh,” he said, “let me know when lunch is ready.”
I was too weak to choke him. As I fell in a heap on the front porch, I made this resolution: If I ever have a next husband, I will definitely find one that’s normal — if that’s even possible.