The Good Old Days When My Husband and I Couldn’t Stand the Sight of Each Other. (Part One)

Remember last May when Top Cat and I went to the Orkney Islands (seen in blue off the north coast of Scotland) and how, for some reason, we got off on the wrong foot from Day One and could never get in sync for the 10 days we were traveling, which resulted in us bitching at each other for the entire time we were on the road? Oh, sure, it was hilarious when I wrote about it later, but living through it was terrible. It’s a form of torture, when you are forced to spend every waking minute with the person whose face makes you want to hit them with a chair.

I’d say that now, with so many of us in quarantine and house-bound 24/7 with our spouses, that you all have the potential to experience first-hand your very own hellish Orkney Island Scenario.

But I’ve been there and back, literally [round trip to/from Orkney without getting charged with manslaughter], so allow me to enlighten you on how to get through this hellish COVID Togetherness.

Tip #1: When your spouse insists on watching MSNBC on the TV while listening to a college radio station at the same time, be sure to say in a loud, clear voice: JESUS CHRIST TURN THAT SHIT OFF NOBODY THINKS THE WHITE STRIPES ARE COOL ANY MORE. The more clearly you communicate how crappy you think your spouse’s TV and musical tastes are, the better your chances that your spouse will just shut everything down and go sulk upstairs, leaving you alone in your well-deserved peace and quiet.

Tip #2: If your house was built before “open plan” became a thing, it doesn’t matter how many square feet you have, you and your spouse will be bumping into each other many times a day in the poorly designed “flow” of the place. Usually it’s the long, narrow hallway from the living room to the kitchen, which cannot accommodate two people at the same time yet it’s always where you both seem to end up about twice every fucking half-hour. When that happens, it’s good to remind your spouse FOR FUCK’S SAKE SOCIAL FUCKING DISTANCING, SOCIAL FUCKING DISTANCING! Make sure you say this loud enough so the neighbors can hear, so they will know how seriously you are taking your responsibility to keep our society safe and healthy.

Tip #3: In a confined space, you’ll be looking at your spouse a lot, which means that you’ll be seeing a lot that you wish you hadn’t seen. Be sure to criticize their slobby personal grooming (YO DUDE WHAT IS THAT SHIT ON YOUR FACE, TOOTHPASTE OR DROOL?) their disgusting snacking ( YOU DIP THAT APPLE INTO THE  MAYONNAISE JAR ONE MORE TIME  AND WE’RE GOING FULL-OUT FIGHT CLUB)   and their shitty new pandemic pastimes (STOP PLAYING TIC TAC TOE WITH THE CAT YOU KNOW THE CAT ALWAYS WINS) because they obviously can’t help themselves.

TIP #4: When your spouse looks at your phone over your shoulder and comments that Gee, you seem to have a lot of pictures of young K-Pop stars in tight jeans on your Twitter feed, now is the time to remind them that the last time they could fit into tight jeans was before these K-Pop stars were born, which can be very motivating. But just for good measure, you can also use your best “Screaming at a BTS concert” voice when you add: AND BACK THE FUCK UP, I HATE IT WHEN YOU BREATHE ON ME.

I hope these tips will be as helpful to you as they were to Top Cat and I when we went through our Orkney ordeal. We also drank a lot on that trip. Separately. He’d go to a pub and I’d settle in with a bottle of wine in the hotel room and we wouldn’t have to look at each other until the next morning. That helps too.

And speaking of Orkney…

…many of you have been wondering where in the world is The Stromness Rock?

(The rock that I found in the village of Stromness, Orkney, hidden in the  parking lot of a seafood shop that is part of a game the villagers were playing, where people find painted rocks, upload a photo on Facebook, and hide it for someone else to find. I contacted the person in charge and was given permission to take The Rock home to America with me, and the Dear Readers of this blog have been showing our Scottish Stone the sights (so far) of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington state, Oregon, and California.)

So, Where is The Rock? Here’s a hint:

Can you see our Scottish friend waving from the base of the flag pole?

The Rock arrived in the great Lone Star State just in time to be quarantined with Dear Reader Rachel and her husband Don. But The Rock is happy to get some of that great Texas sunshine and hang with the indigenous flora:

More species of cacti are found in Texas than in any other state. In fact, the Prickly Pear cactus is the state plant of Texas. Now, just because I wrote a book about gardens doesn’t mean that I know a damn thing about plants, so let’s just call the one (above) Stabby Sticks, and the one (below) Jazz Hands:

The Rock has never seen a cactus before, being from a northern latitude that makes “home” feel more like Anchorage, Alaska than Central Texas. If you have never seen a cactus in your life, your first impression of them is that they are extra-terrestrial, and it’s a good thing that The Rock is a huge sic-fi nerd and felt right at home with these creatures. Here’s The Rock relaxing, below, with the famous Texas Upside Down Splat cactus:

This is not a cactus:

This is Dudley, and he’s confused.

The Rock has a very strong Scottish accent, and Cò am balach math? sounds more like a hedgehog gurgling with Dr. Pepper than Who’s a good boy? in Scots. Relax, Dudley. Everyone knows who’s a good boy. (It’s you, Dudley. It’s always you. You’re the only dog in the house.)

Some people say that Texas ladies are the epitome of southern beauty. . .

LeeAnn and What’s Her Name from the Real Housewives of Dallas

. . . and some people say that they look as if they’ve barely managed to survive an explosion in a make up factory, but the point is that Texas ladies are glamorous. The Rock was clearly out-classed when it came to hanging out with the locals:

Texans are some of the friendliest folks you’ll ever find here win these United States, and they tried to make The Rock feel accepted as one of them. . .

. . . but the truth is that The Rock has logged about 7,000 miles on this road trip so far and is beginning to look a bit worn out:


The Rock got a facelift!

I’m insanely jealous. The Rock got a facelift before I got mine and it’s a sad day when a Scottish stone gets an update while I’m still stuck with the same face I’ve been dragging around since George McGovern ran for president. The Rock is SO PLEASED with the result of its makeover that it shines, as if it were lit from within, below, in this field of Texas Blue Bonnets:

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. I’ll be googling the COVID timeline, looking for information for when it’s OK to have elective surgery again, but you all, please ignore me and go binge watch Crash Landing Into You on Netflix. It’s very funny, as funny as North Korea gets.

Our regularly scheduled Fuck Trump post is in a separate post  this week, immediately following this looooong public service announcement. I wanted to give you a chance to get up and go make a cup of tea before you dive into Part Two.



8 Comments, RSS

  1. Casey

    Oh my god, I am laughing so hard over your extremely helpful hints at marital harmony. I know you don’t actually talk like this to TopCat, who is a paragon of uxoriousness, but it’s funny to imagine that you two go at it like that. Then again, it’s a thin line between love and murder.

    Dudley’s a beautiful boy. He looks like he’s a Capricorn, a deep thinker.

    Nice facelift on The Rock, Rachel! I love your succulent garden, but Vivian might have misidentified the second plant. I think it’s the Great Green Bristle Bush, not a Jazz Hands. But I could be wrong.

  2. One of my co-workers said, when this whole thing began, that Coronavirus was going to test a lot of marriages. As I’m sure it has! I laughed at your description of the non-open-plan house, because that’s exactly what our flat feels like. Every time I go into a room, Dave is there too. How many places can just one other person simultaneously occupy?!

    I love the cacti descriptions, and Dudley, and I laughed at your assertion that just because you wrote a book about gardens doesn’t mean you know a damn thing about plants.

    I dig that snake rock, too. I want it.

  3. Kirra

    Thanks for the ‘stayIng at home with your spouse’ tips Vivian. Teachers are still working in most states of Australia, though my partner Neal will start teaching online lessons this week for his schools. I still have to go to work so our variation is, I come home from work and bitch about how shit the government is for making me go to work and then I check the internet, watch the news and repeat, with beer or wine. (At least we have some school holidays at Easter… two weeks time.)

    I let one of my older classes choose some songs to watch/sing in music the other day and one girl chose a BTS song, amazing film clip!

    Thanks for the update on the Stromness rock, it’s face lift looks great and it’s nice to see it discovering the cacti of I assume Rachel’s garden.

    Take care everyone and stay self and healthy and be thankful if you have a pet (I don’t and I’m pretty jealous at the moment!).

  4. Megan

    Ha ha, yes we will see if we all survive this isolation. A lady in the supermarket said the other day she had to isolate for 14 days as her husband had just returned from overseas, I said that would be good she would have missed him so won’t feel like killing him in the quarantine. She thought it still quite likely.

  5. Marg-o


    I have an open concept house and what that means during quarantine is that you can *see* your husband at all times. Wherever you go, H e ‘ s t h e r e . There is no place to hide.

    I love Dudley’s look when The Rock tried to cozy up to him. that’s a dog’s fate, to be so lovable even when it confuses them. Nice facelift, too! Thanks Rachel, the Rock is now up to Texas standards of beauty.

    Thanks to Kirra I now know that Australia is making its teachers risk their health for what??? That is insane. Usually zi have great respect for the government there (I thought they handled the fires last year very well) but this is crazy. STAY HOME! That’s what the rest of the world is saying — and isn’t it fall Down Under, the time of year that viruses love best? Crazy. Stay healthy, Kirra.

  6. Loving the rock’s adventures — I was wondering where it had landed.

    We’re coping in our separate houses. I’m supposed to stay in (except walks — no people). The ultimate in social distancing. Fortunately, Lizzie doesn’t know these rules, so no distancing there. Except for the usual cat-distancing, which means she holds the power. I, however, have the thumbs to open the food cans. Just sayin’…

    Rick brings the groceries and keeps his distance, though we’re distancing a little more since he was a very naughty boy and didn’t distance from others when changing some other cyclists flat bike tire. Can’t fault him for that, but I could use a back rub. Lizzie is not trained in massage therapy. And when he shops, he doesn’t bring the junk food (though he did bring me my Tab).

    Ah well, time to think up what tonight’s quarantini will be.

  7. Melissa Elliott

    Of course, the alternative theory of spousal relations is that all too many of us will be HAVING relations that will result in a new Baby Boom. And then, along about 2033, they will all become QUARANTEENS, with names like Charmin and Fauci.

  8. So happy to see the rock got a face lift, it needed it badly.
    Now other than coming together for the evening news I watch things on my computer in a whole different part of the house. I just can’t watch TV with my “live-in gardener”, especially when he controls the remote. It drives me nuts. I have my own services for streaming on my computer and am a happy girl.

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