Because the Ph.D postal worker’s “day at the office” starts WAY earlier than mine, we don’t see much of each other on work-day mornings. I’m rarely out of bed before she leaves (often before 5 a.m.) unless I happen to be heading to the gym (and that’s a really big IF), in which case we might exchange a few words while she eats breakfast and I gulp down a quick cup of coffee. But most mornings, I can barely manage to call out a “Have a good day, Honey.” from the coziness of our bed, where her side is usually still warm.
Not surprisingly, the Swede’s alarm clock doesn’t go off until the last possible minute, and consequently her morning routine is pretty tightly choreographed … so much so that I’ve been known to throw it off simply by needing to take a leak at the wrong moment. She does as much advanced prep as possible, including showering and packing her lunch the night before, setting up the coffee-maker so that it’s ready to brew with one touch of a button and pre-measuring the rolled oats, salt and water needed to make her morning bowl of “gruel.”
The oatmeal is a relatively new part of the ritual … it replaced Greek yogurt when the weather started getting cold last winter and Dr. Darling discovered it could be made in the microwave rather than on the stove. So she’s been setting a bowl of dry oats out on the kitchen counter every “school night” for months and it’s pretty much the last thing I see when I’m turning off lights on my way to bed.
A couple of nights ago I decided to leave the Swede a little morning message in the bowl by pushing the oats into the shape of a heart. To be honest, I wasn’t sure she’d even notice it. (I doubt I would at that hour of the morning, especially pre-coffee.)
But she did notice it, recognized what it was, and seemed charmed by my effort even though it mean’t I’d had my fingers (literally) in her breakfast.
Emboldened by my success as a dry oats sculptor, I decided to try something slightly more complex the next night. I was so excited about my creation that I actually roused myself awake enough before she left to ask what she thought of it.
“It was lovely, Honey, but why did you leave me a monkey?”
“That wasn’t monkey!” I exclaimed. “It was Mickey Mouse! It’s an iconic image known throughout the world! How could you not have recognized Mickey Mouse?!”
“Sorry, I thought it was a monkey.”
“Why would I have made you a monkey?”
“Because you love monkeys?” (This is true, but she was clearly trying to dig herself out of a hole at this point.)
So the next night I decided to go really simple and formed her oatmeal into two parallel mounds that any middle-school-aged boy would see at a distance of 50 feet. And just to be ABSOLUTELY sure she could not miss what I had crafted, I put a raisin in the center of each one.
I slept through her departure and had to wait until I got home from work to ask her to identify that morning’s masterwork. To which she replied,
“Nice job on the Lussekatter.” (A Saffron Bun, popular at Christmas.)
I think I’ve officially retired.