By Linda Rondeau
He opened his Christmas gifts first, then dancing with anticipation handed me my present. The gift bag was securely closed with a ridge of scotch-tape, evidence of his own hand in this artful presentation. I exercised all the pre-opening rituals: gently stroking the outside, carefully shaking it near the ear, and complimenting the packaging, as well as the obligatory, “Thank you, Honey.” I even ventured a few guesses.
“Well, judging by the shape, it’s probably not candy.”
“You’re right. It’s not candy.”
“Pajamas! Silk, right?”
“No. It’s not pajamas but you’re getting closer. Go ahead. Open it.”
In an instant, I popped the row of scotch tape and looked inside the satiny red wrapping bag. I froze in disbelief as I stared at what my husband deemed the perfect gift. “A SHOWER MASSAGE!” I knew right then and there the romance was more than dead. It was beyond resuscitation. In fact, it was stone cold. “For me?” I feigned pleasure.
“Well, it’s really for the both of us. That’s why I spent a little extra.”
Since we bought a video camera as a mutual Christmas present to each other, we set a personal gift limit of $25. He went over the top to $30. “You shouldn’t have,” I said honestly.
“I know you said you wanted jewelry. Surprised?”
“Oh, yes. I’m speechless!”
At some point over the past couple decades, the Prince Charming I married went through a metamorphosis. The handsome suitor who used to buy me Russell Stover Chocolates emerged an aged athlete peddling Mr. Coffee. Practicality slowly replaced sentimentality. I wanted to tell Joe DiMaggio to take a hike, find my misplaced fairy godmother, and tell her to bring back Prince Charming.
Instead I muttered a half-hearted, “Gee. Thank you.”
“Pour yourself another cup of coffee and relax while I get the shower massage ready for you.” He took the monstrosity from the bag; and with his toolbox in hand, bounded up the steps like a schoolboy at recess.
He whistled while he worked. In the meantime, I stewed in my disappointment. “A shower massage. Ump!” I felt like Grumpy while he played the part of Happy.
“All set,” he beamed. “You first! After all, it is your present.”
“That it is.” I trudged to the upstairs bathroom, took off my robe, and stepped into the wide spread spray. To my pleasant surprise, the steamy mist enveloped my senses. I felt as if I had just entered a sauna.
“Well, now. This is sort of nice.” I took the showerhead in hand and experimented with the dial. Suddenly, reams of pulsating gushes hit my arthritic joints. I let my mind drift, imagining I was under a waterfall in Tahiti. “Hey, I thought. This is not bad. Not bad at all.”
When there was no more hot water, I reluctantly turned the shower off, towel-dried, put on my bathrobe, and wandered downstairs.
Joe DiMaggio was anxiously awaiting the umpire’s verdict. “Well?” He looked like an innocent child who had just given his mother a wilted dandelion, waiting for a hug of gratitude.
“It’s out of the ball park, Slugger. A grand slam homerun.”
He smiled his cute little boy smile. Behind the smirk, I recognized the faded but familiar royalty that I fell in love with so many years ago. Joltin’ Joe had not completely taken over. My once darling Prince Charming still lived inside that paunchy but adorable man, and he knew exactly what this tired, achy body needed.
Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel (The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight), LINDA RONDEAU, writes for the reader who enjoys a little bit of everything. Her stories of redemption and God’s mercies include romance, suspense, the ethereal, and a little bit of history into the mix, always served with a slice of humor. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community. Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com. Her second book, written under L.W. Rondeau, America II: The Reformation (Trestle Press), is a futuristic political thriller published is now available in ebook on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.