Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Weighty Problem

My husband absorbs the National Geographic the way bread soaks up milk. His eyes light up when his monthly copy arrives in the mailbox and whatever he was doing before is set aside as he dives into the magazine’s shiny, slick pages. I know not to try for his attention any time soon. Which is why he surprised me last week as we prepared our condo for installation of new carpeting.

We hadn’t planned to replace the nine-year-old Berber until next fall, but the stars seemed to align when we happened upon a sample of just the right shade of celery green and a small business owner with honest eyes and a low-key sales pitch. “My prices are low now because of the recession,” he explained. “Now is the best time to buy carpeting.” How could we resist?

Brian, the carpet man, arrived a few days later to measure our space and give us an estimate. He assured me, when I asked. “Yes. The price includes removing the existing carpeting and pad, installing the new, and moving the furniture. We do it all.”

Except, of course, we had to take everything off the shelves, tables, and out of the cabinets. Which was where the magazines came into play. One cabinet groaned under the weight of sixty-two copies of the National Geographic. (Another forty fill the shelf of a built-in storage area in our Wisconsin apartment, but they weren’t the problem at the moment.) We hauled a box from the garage and made the mistake of filling it with the yellow-bound treasures. “Help me lift this, Ralph. We have to put it on the porch.”

I thought my ears were playing tricks on me when he said, “We should probably get rid of these.” We’d had this discussion a month ago when I purged my bookshelves and hauled two cartons of my accumulated favorites to our Ocean Village library. When I’d suggested he do something with the magazines he assured me he used them as reference. I knew not to say more. I’d already reminded him we couldn’t find anyone who wanted the fifteen years of accumulated copies when we sold our home and moved to an apartment. “Yeah, I know. Everything is on the Internet,” he said dejectedly.

Last week the weight of the magazines became the problem of the worker on the recycle truck. I wasn’t here to see him struggle to lift the green bin, nor did I hang around to see the pain in my husband’s eyes.

So yesterday, when I brought in the mail and said, “Here’s this month’s National Geographic,” I was heartened to see his eyes light up once again. I didn’t bother him until I had dinner on the table. Hopefully, we won’t be replacing carpeting for another ten years or so.