Neighbor Nate is set in his ways, some of which are quite peculiar. There are certain things in life that must be a certain way for him. These things are not of great importance to the outsider, but to him, they are matters of sanity versus insanity. The way the bed is made before he sleeps, for example. Neighbor Nate remakes it every night before he goes to bed. The Woman has learned not to interfere with this process, though she occasionally reminds him of the degree of ridiculousness she finds this habit. Sometimes she is already in bed, but the sheets have a miniscule wrinkle, and Neighbor Nate will rip every sheet and every blanket off the bed (and The Woman), and remake it to his liking. The Woman finds this behavior incessant and borderline that of someone who should be admitted to an asylum, but she has learned to tolerate it.
The timer on the microwave. Who would have thought this simple little mechanism could be a source for such extensive grief? Neighbor Nate has this idea in his head, that if the timer on the microwave says anything but zero when he goes to use it, the world will implode. The implications of such a treacherous event are impossible for us to truly understand. It did not take long for the woman to learn to push the “clear” button if she happened to stop the microwave before the time had completed. A few episodes of Neighbor Nate frantically pushing buttons on the microwave, screaming and cursing, unable to figure out why it would not do what he wanted it to do, were enough motivation for The Woman to remember to set the time back to zero.
“WHY WON’T THIS STUPID PIECE OF CRAP WORK??? I HATE THIS STUPID THING! IT NEVER DOES WHAT I WANT IT TO DO!”
“Did you push the “clear” button, babe?” The Woman would ask calmly.
“What the…who? WOMAN! DID YOU LEAVE TIME ON THE MICROWAVE AGAIN??????”
It only took a few times.
The real problem arose when The Woman’s little sister lived with them for a short time. The Sister wasn’t the problem. The Sister’s Boyfriend was the problem. He was never there to see or understand these episodes. It was never him who was there to claim responsibility for the act of treason. The Boyfriend. Oh, The Boyfriend thought it was funny to set up The Woman and The Sister. He left extra time on the microwave every time he came over. The Boyfriend will pay. One day, he will pay.
Perhaps the most significant of Neighbor Nate’s peculiarities is that he must dry off with two towels after every shower. Now, coming from humble beginnings at the time they were married, there was a period of time where they only owned two towels. One for each of them. Eventually this proved to be a problem, since he would use both towels, leaving only damp towels for The Woman.
It became apparent that it would turn into an eternal battle over the towels. Or, they could buy more towels. Which is what they did.
Costco had giant, fluffy towels on sale, and they did something crazy. They bought four towels. And they bought two in one color, and two in another color. It was a battle deciding who got which color (there weren’t many options) and Neighbor Nate insisted the gray ones be his, and the blue ones be hers. He wanted the gray, and there was no discussion that had a fighting chance to end any other way.
Fine, whatever. “I don’t care what color towel I use, as long as they are DRY,” said the woman, struggling between feelings of defeat and excitement at the prospect of being able to use a dry towel.
The system was fool proof. Neighbor Nate could only use his towels, and he could use both at the same time. He had no excuse to use The Woman’s towels, because they were color coded, and in the store he claimed to hate dark blue (which is also occasionally his favorite color).
He promised, up one side and down the other, that he would never use her towels again. One day, The Woman went to take a shower.
Dry towels for life.
One day she walked into the bathroom, looked to the towel rack, to be immediately greeted by…nothing. No towels. Zero of her three towels were on the rack where she had left them. Her eyes slowly fell to the floor.
Not only was one of her towels on the floor. Not only were two of her towels on the floor. Not only were all three of her towels on the floor…but all three of her towels were on the floor and had been turned into a nice little dog bed for their Little Black Devil, Gibbs.
It took a moment for the reality to fully sink in. Neighbor Nate had used all three of her towels. Neighbor Nate had left all three of her towels on the floor. And then her precious little dog Gibbs had come and made himself a little bed on the towels. The towels were completely black with dog hair.
She stormed out of the bathroom. Neighbor Nate was sitting in his throne.
“Did you use my towels?” Her voice was quiet, but the brief moment of silence between each word was like the silence that comes right before an earthquake, or a tsunami. Eerie. Terrifying. Painful. Unpredictable.
He froze. Moving nothing but his eyes, he timidly met her laser beam stare.
“Umm……….no?” He knew. He knew he was in trouble.
“Are you really going to try to lie about this right now?” The calmness and slowness of her voice was unsettling.
He instantly started using his “I’m just an innocent bystander who would never dream of crushing your soul” voice. “Honey, I’m so sorry, I couldn’t find mine….and….I’m so sorry.”
“Go look at them.” There it was again. Calm. Quiet. Soul-piercing. The tone that terrified.
He made his way into the bathroom, and saw the bed of dog hair that covered The Woman’s towels.
“Not one. Not two. But ALL THREE. Of my bath towels. And you HAD to leave them on the floor so the dog would sleep on them?!?!?! YOU PROMISED you would stop using my towels.” Again, the slow, calm, piercing tone. The occasional emphasis on certain words were like daggers.
“I’m sorry. That was mean. I’ll let you wear my robe.” He felt horrible. He needed to make it up to her somehow. He had broken a promise. He had betrayed The Woman. He needed her to accept his remorse. What better way than to let her wear his most precious possession?
“I’M. NOT. WEARING. YOUR. ROBE!” she yelled.
He ran out of the room to retrieve the robe, as they yelled back and forth.
“YOU WILL WEAR IT!”
“I will absolutely NOT wear it!”
He raced back with the robe, “You will wear this robe, and if you don’t, I will bite your ankles.”
She wore the robe. But she wore it unhappily.
And Neighbor Nate never used her towels again.