He was anticipating my return, waiting at the door with an expression I couldn't quite decipher. Pride? Excitement? Yes and yes.
"Look Hun...won't these look great here?!
The these that he was referring to are two mounted ducks and the here he directs my stunned gaze to is the front wall of our formal living room.
"Ok...well...maybe...but....", I stammer, trying not to verbally paint myself into a corner.
The ducks had met with their untimely death last fall during a weekend of coastal hunting. They had been recovered, cleaned and stuffed by an expert taxidermist and they now sat perched on pieces of driftwood; their cold glass eyes staring at me without feeling.
"Don't you think maybe they might look more...uh...ummm...appropriate at your office or even the deer lease?" I ask trying to sound encouraging without being too pushy.
"No, they would never last there. It's too hot and dusty."
"But they're already DEAD sweetie- they can't suffer anymore," I say in my most empathetic voice.
I could tell by his deflated body language that was disappointed, maybe even a little hurt by my recommendation. This discussion was taking on the tune of a bad country song with a title something like...My Wife Is Gone But My Ducks Ain't...or...This Ain't Duckin' Fair! I didn't feel good about moving in for the kill when he seemed so vulnerable, but it had to be done. I had to finish the job. Like a hunter putting a wounded animal out of its' misery.
"I really, really, REALLY don't want those hanging in here-they just don't go with the rest of the decor." There, I had administered the lethal dose that would put this discussion to rest with all the swiftness and precision of a sharp shooter. A twinge of guilt bubbled up inside me. I am no friend of PETA. I don't condemn hunting, fishing or circus trainers. I'm more than a little proud to carry a leather handbag and adore the supple, hand-tooled leather on a pair of Michael Kors peep-toe pumps. But these unfortunate fowl with their fixed expressions do nothing to stimulate my artistic senses. Especially here, in the formal living area of my abode.
In my dream house, I would have a special room built just for him. He could do as he pleased there in his sanctuary of testosterone. I imagine that there would be pieces and parts of once living creatures crowding the walls. Trophies brought back from great hunting expeditions, lit by flashing red neon. A pool table centered under a Budweiser-Clydesdale themed light fixture and a urinal in the corner for convenience sake. Vintage Smokey and the Bandit posters will give a visual to the Jerry Reed theme song on continuous play blasting from the coin-operated jukebox on the opposing wall. And a 10 inch thick security door installed to contain the smell of a deep fryer, preventing this and other offensive odors from permeating the rest of the house.
But at the moment, this dream house is a pipe dream. So we do what we must to ensure the future of our 22,995 (but who's counting) days of marriage. We compromise. Our feathered friends will reside at his office and I will keep the title of Interior Decorator. In return for his sacrifice, he is granted unlimited excursions to his make-shift sanctuary of testosterone. He may take his weekly sojourns to Dodge City with his buddies at his leisure. All the while, collecting more relics to one-day adorn the walls of his sanctuary.
The sport of compromise must be practiced and concessions have to be made for a relationship to endure. In this aspect, I am one lucky duck.