I gave my wife a good Cuban Screw.
It had been a hectic week and I felt like she deserved to relax.
The Cuban Screw was an impromptu decision, and one necessitated by the supplies at hand. No wine. No vodka. Plenty of orange juice. And a weird bottle of rum we had been gifted at some point. It sounded like a decent drink. I looked it up. Sure enough, it is called a Cuban Screw.
We sat in a parking lot waiting for a soccer game to start and my wife enjoyed her beverage while I played the role of responsible adult. (Trust me, the shoe is usually on the other foot.) Summer showers were knocking down the heat and thunderstorms danced around us, clearly visible like black cylinders connecting heaven and earth. Our conversation took its normal route. Our kids. Our families. Our jobs. Our troubles. Entertaining each other has never been a problem for us. We are comfortable with silence, too, but I love to hear her talk. I tried to make her laugh and succeeded a time or two. Finally, we wandered to our place along a soggy sideline. My wife took a seat in a small set of bleachers. She had sunglasses propped on her head and a satisfied smile. She was happy, and that made me happy.
Then a chorus of frogs started up.
Unfortunately, these were not frogs in the distance. My wife could have reached out and kissed one. These frogs would carry on with their croaking racket for about ten seconds, then nothing for about twenty, then start up again. They were clearly opera quality frogs, too, with strong, loud voices. Other parents commented on the amphibian serenade and laughed about it. My wife did too, at first.
The noise itself is hard to describe. And it was the same each time. They sounded not unlike a bunch of drowning sheep. Except they never quite dipped below the surface of the water.
For a woman who had pet frogs as a kid, my wife seemed thrown by them pretty quickly.
“Please make them stop,” my wife said.
“I don’t speak frog.”
“Well do something!”
“What? Splash around in grassy puddles till I squish them?”
“Can’t they go be frogs somewhere else?”
The frogs weren’t the only noise we were contending with. You had the dad yelling at his kid, “Give him pressure from behind! Pressure from behind!” I don’t know exactly what that means but he clearly did and he screamed it throughout the game.
And my twins are now at the age where the curse words the players employ are just loud enough to be heard. “Shit” was the least offensive word a few of the players were using. Just loud enough to catch the “S” and the “T”.
So it was the frogs, the yelling dad, the hushed curses, a rumble of thunder in the distance, and then the frogs again. Whatever my wife got from her Cuban Screw was quickly becoming Cuban Screwed.
By halftime the frogs had carried on long enough that my wife was willing to punch Kermit the Frog in the throat. She is one of the most loving people I have ever met, but she can turn on a dime. You light the fire, you better be ready for the heat, because it is coming. She got out of the stands and tried to locate the frogs. I watched out of the corner of my eye, wondering how I would react if I saw her casually stomp on them. Finally, she came back to sit down, her shoes wet, but without any frog guts that I could see.
After that the frogs mocked her, even louder than before.
My wife pulled out her sunglasses and mumbled something about her floaters. She usually has, in her words, a kaleidoscope of floaters. Different colored and patterned objects that drift before her eyes in different ways and at different speeds, usually late in the day when the air is gray and the sky is orange. And these are Bethany floaters, which would be different from what other people see. I’m sure her kaleidoscope of floaters moves in beat to some Bee Gees song. There is probably a little Richard Simmons dude in there. I suspect there are some huge kissing lips and some peace signs and the floating objects hug each other, dance, and bounce around her mental stratosphere.
My wife’s expectation of what the afternoon would hold had been high jacked by a party of floaters and performing frogs. Maybe expectations exist just to help us survive the mundane moments of life. Or to help us through the rough patches of our existence. Or even the monotony of being a parent. Either way, my wife sat there enduring the game and the noise and the chaos of a world I know she simply wanted to slow down and shut up. And she did it with the sweet taste of Cuba on her tongue, while the acid slowly built in her stomach.