Friday, May 21, 2010

Pretend Husband Number Four: Boo Radley

Go figure: of all my fake husbands, the one I love best is the one who never does anything for me. No home repairs, no out-to-dinners, no friendly bouts of the ess-eee-and-ex. Then again, none of my other husbands—be it Ed Head, Hank Fitz, or even Mack the recalcitrant cowboy, can leap with grace to the top of my fridge, let alone sit there for 95 hours, glowering down like Poe’s depraved raven, silently hissing the word “Nevermore.”

“Nevermore what?” I can’t help but ask him.

“Nevermore Anything, duh,” he intones.

I don’t mind the hideous truths he imparts as long as he maintains the routine I rely on, that of sharing my bed every night and trying to finish me off every morning. He attacks me with claws, sometimes with teeth. It’s like living with a furry Ted Bundy.

“How ‘bout Nevermore Friskies?” I threaten, but Boo knows from experience that I’d never starve him.

“How ‘bout having your horrid nails clipped?”

Boo knows from experience that this threat is real, albeit only because Mack does the clipping. It’s one of Mack’s many pretend-husband tasks, and as annoying as it is (Boo’s large and cranky), it’s nothing compared to shoeing a horse.

Mack didn’t much cotton to Boo at first, and Boo so returned this antipathy that the tiniest hint that Mack was approaching made him fly like a bat out the window. As time went on, though, Mack started to treat Boo with a real respect and honest affection. Being insane, I took this to mean that some day Mack would also cave in to me, fall to his knees, and give me his heart. Some day, that is, while it still has a few working ventricles. Some day before we’re both wearing Depends.

“Nevermore,” says Boo when he hears me thinking this very thought.

And still I don’t kill him. How can I? He’s a warm, soft, vaguely male mammal who lets me touch him as much as I want. Or, rather, since as much as I want is probably five hundred hours uninterrupted, for as long as he can stand it, which is more like five minutes.  At which point he does what any man would: keens like a banshee while trying his best to bite off my thoroughly wrongheaded head.