September 27, 2023

No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan


As if enduring the remodeling that has swept Doodlebug Island were not enough—dust, debris, and inconvenience—we husbands are now being asked to tour the newly created masterpieces our wives have created, where, by implied but nevertheless implicit expectation, we are being given the opportunity to pronounce the changes way past due, very much worth the cost, and encompassing perfection itself. Now, this is not on any great order of difficulty for us old timers, for we have had the practice of several prior remodelings to guide us. Newly minted husbands might stumble, understandably.

In my own home, everything is white on white—white marble, white cabinets, white carpeting, white fixtures, white walls, white counter tops, white tile, chrome hardware valves, handles, and spouts. The house could be the match to the Celestial Room in an LDS Temple, but I don’t share that observation with anyone who communicates with my wife. She is inordinately proud of her accomplishment, and undoubtedly has a right to be. Matching and coordinating everything has been difficult, even with her skills. She is so enthusiastic I don’t have the heart to tell her I miss the warm tones of our old cabinets, the earthy richness of travertine, and the light shades of brown that I was used to. But, if it’s pleasing to her, it’s a temple to me. As long as she’s in it, color or the lack of is of no concern.

Now, I am having to adjust to the fact my office is gone! It was incorporated into an expanded family room. And I find myself wondering if those walls will be as sturdy as when bolstered by my invective-laden railings preparing editorials for the Doodlebug Island Run-on which I edit?
“This room is huge. Are we expecting a visit from the Rockettes?” I asked, facetiously.

“Aren’t you just the one to hope so!” she replied. “In any case, now we have room for company, and I won’t have to hear that dreadfully abusive language you appear to find useful when you’re fulminating at the top of your lungs.”

“Yes you will! I’m taking over our bedroom.”

“You may have to wait,” she laughed. “Remodeling starts there Tuesday.”

“Lucky for me, I have another office down at the paper. Am I expected to sleep there, as well? You’re not planning to remodel that, are you?”
“Now that you mention it, it could use a little sprucing up. Could be next year’s project.”

It was a mistake on my part to mention the words ‘office at the paper’ and ‘remodel’ in the same sentence. It was akin to lighting a fuse whose length was the sole delay before an explosion. “Woman, so far you’ve been cutting pretty circles on solid ice, but touch one printing press or disorderly file cabinet and you’ll arouse the irate side of my otherwise tolerant, charming nature!” I had meant to include the idea of thin ice, but my analogy broke down mid-sentence.

“I was teasing you,” she said, coyly, “but maybe we can effect a trade. We’ll redo the kitchen and forget your office.” She turned away. “Until another time,” she added under her breath.

It was a pyrrhic victory, at best, but one I was happy to settle for. “That ‘another time,’ will be when you want to trade for something else?”
“You catch on fast,” she said, “and after only forty-nine years of marriage!”

“Sarcasm isn’t your long suit, sweetheart, and, in fact, might be considered unbecoming in one of such charm and discriminating taste,” I replied.
“This from a man who uses his newspaper and his literary skills to remodel the world, and who quite regularly employs sarcasm, hyperbole, threats, intimidation, invective, and bombast to achieve his ends!”

“That’s true, love, but excusable when used for justifiable ends. Greed and the use of power are formidable enemies of truth and kindness. Would you have me avoid expressive propaganda techniques if through their use justice could get a better look?”

“No, my gallant Don Quixote. Tilt away, and know that I love you for it.”

The tilting at windmills, if that’s what my work amounts to, didn’t sound so hot, but what she said about my attempt to remodel the world had an ennobling ring to it I liked considerately better.

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