The other day, I was telling my redheaded sweetheart about a friend who was taking time off of work to have a medical procedure done.
“What’s wrong with him?’ she inquired.
“He has ‘very close veins,’” I answered back.
She gave me one of those looks that I have become all too familiar with. It’s a kind of blank expression that signals to me that I have broached a subject with her that is beyond her comprehension. I have to keep reminding myself that she graduated high school in only three years, whereas I took my time and managed to make a five and a half year journey through the hallowed halls of Poynette High (Go Indians!). Obviously, I learned a lot more during my extensive academic career than she did during her brief encounter with higher learning.
“What are you talking about?” she asked, confirming my suspicion.
“He’s going to have laser surgery to remove his VERY-CLOSE-VEINS.” I raised my voice slightly and said the words slowly in an effort to facilitate communication. Tami always appreciates it when I do that.
“What are very close veins?”
The tenor of her voice led me to believe that she really had no idea what I was talking about. I thought back over the past (almost) twenty-nine years that we have been married. If I had a nickel for every time that I had to explain something to her, I could buy her a decent set of encyclopedias which she could use to further her education. It would be nice to have an intellectual equal to converse with. It can be lonely being a person of great intellectual prowess, but it does give me a sense of fraternity with some of the early Greek philosophers such as Sucrets and Pluto.
“Very close veins,” I instructed, “is a condition where the veins in your legs push outward and get very close to the surface. That’s why they are called ‘very close veins.’”
She rolled her eyes, shook her head, and gave a big sigh, obviously frustrated with her lack of knowledge. “I think you mean ‘varicose veins.’”
I have noticed something about Tami, and other people for that matter. Oftentimes when they don’t have any useful information to contribute to a conversation, rather than keep silent, they will dig the hole deeper by trying to sound intelligent – even to the point of making up words like ‘varicose veins.’
I think that Tami is often jealous of the fact that I am the writer in the family. Sometimes it gets the better of her and she will make some poor (but adorable) attempt at word-smithing, making up her own words for every-day, common things. She will even make up words and apply them to me, which is what she did next.
She turned to face me, and, with her hands on her hips, she said, “You are a verifiable ignoramus!”
She could have kept it simple and just said that I was brilliant, or a genius, or just a really-really-really smart guy; but she had to embarrass herself by describing my intellectual acumen with some meaningless, made-up word.
I smiled and tried to put my arm around her. “You don’t have to do that, you know. I don’t mind your limited vocabulary. It’s okay with me that we are not intellectual equals.”
She pushed me away; her eyes wide; a lone tear about to spill over the causeway of her rosy cheek. “You and I will NEVER be intellectual equals!”
“Now honey,” I replied, “you shouldn’t talk like that. You know I hate it when you make self-defecating comments.”
She stood with her mouth hanging open and stared at me like I had a third eye or something. “The word is ‘self-deprecating,’ not ‘self-defecating! There is no such word as ‘self-defecating.”
“There most certainly is,” I gently corrected her. “Self-defecation is when you get depressed and you make insulting comments about yourself; basically crapping all over yourself.”
She threw her arms in the air and stormed out of the front door. I saw her heading up the path to the top of the mountain behind our cabin. She likes to take a walk sometimes when she is feeling frustrated and inadequate.
As I watched her heading up the path, arms flailing about, yelling something I couldn’t quite make out, I felt sorry for her and decided that I needed to do something to cheer her up. Christmas is just around the corner. Maybe I’ll buy her those encyclopedias anyways.