When I got home, I noticed a long, rectangular box perched on our front steps. The return address read, “Cushman’s, for Harry & David.” Great! I thought; some loving friend or relative vacationing in Florida sent us some citrus to get us through the winter. I opened the box to reveal three dozen shiny oranges, each nestled in its green foam cup, a random few covered with tissue paper. Then I checked the gift card so I could text a big “Thank You!” to the generous sender. It read:TO: MY HUSBAND FROM: MY HUSBAND
Mr. 70 Percent had sent himself some oranges, straight from the grove! Now, a wife more appreciative and less frugal than I might have greeted him after work with grateful kisses and a screwdriver made with fresh-squeezed orange juice. But you’re reading the wrong blog for that kind of story. Instead, I stomped around the house for awhile, irritated by this unnecessary expenditure. When he got home, I met him with, “So, what’s with the oranges?” “They’re Honeybells!” he answered defensively. “I’ve been wanting to try them and they’re only available for a few short weeks!” “Couldn’t you just have bought some at Whole Foods?” Apparently not: “They don’t sell them there! You can only get them by mail order.”
If I were more like The Bloggess, who once avenged a fight with her husband over towels by buying a giant metal chicken and randomly posing it all over their house, I would have hidden the oranges, one by one, in odd places: the “battery drawer,” the cookbook shelf, the vise in his basement workshop.
I understand that in the scheme of things, the oranges were not a big deal. (“They were cheap!” he assured me, falling back on his standard response whenever I question a purchase.) But they brought back bad flashbacks of the Italian plates, which my husband purchased from a gorgeous Amalfi coast shopkeeper named Catalina or Catarina 10 days into our honeymoon. (Never mind that we had already registered for both fine china and everyday dishes at Bloomingdale’s, where the salesladies tittered in excitement as my metrosexual groom ran to and fro matching napkins to plates while I stood around, bored. “Where did you find him?” one of them asked me.) I found him handing his–now our–AmEx card to glossy-lipped Catalina or Catarina, who was flipping her long dark hair all over that little Ravello shop, and very nearly divorced him before the honeymoon was even over. “More plates???” my tirade began. “Didn’t you think maybe you should check with me?? What you say to her is ‘My wife and I will talk about it and get back to you,’ not ‘Here is my credit card; charge away!’”
That was 18 years ago. We survived the honeymoon, and though I hate admitting it, those Italian plates are among my very favorite things that we bought “together.” As for the oranges, the children proved far more gracious than I: they were delighted by the “gift,” and couldn’t have cared less who sent it. They guzzled glasses of fresh-squeezed juice the next morning, and no one has had a cold all week. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised then, that once I got past the giant cardboard box parked on the kitchen table and the mounds of orange peels all over the counter, I enjoyed possibly the best glass of juice I ever drank. Sometimes love reveals itself in unexpected ways.