Each evening, when my husband comes home, we try to find a minute to discuss our day with each other.
One lovely evening we ended up in the kitchen at the same time and hubby asked what I had been doing all day. I was folding clothes and snapped the wrinkles out of a towel before answering, “Research.” I kept folding and he nodded. Before more could be said, we were interrupted and the moment was forgotten.
Several weeks later I was rushing from one activity to another when he came home from work. We kissed and I waltzed past him and into the kitchen to begin supper. He followed and asked the ubiquitous, “What all did you do today?” I answered, “Mainly research.” He grabbed a cookie and moved on.
Now, if you have been married since forever you don’t take offense at this type of statement as you might if you were young. He is not really wanting to know every task that has taken place since we rushed out of the house at 7:15 a.m. and he is certainly not checking to see if I have been a busy person during the day. It is a general question in case something strange and exotic might, perhaps, have happened. Either spouse can ask the question without too much fear of a literal answer.
Right after Christmas, hubby came home a little early and we had a few minutes. One of the kids popped into the living room and said, “Hey dad! You should see what mom got in the mail today.” Immediately, I began to shoo him out of the room. “She says it is for her research.” Dad nodded and opened the newspaper to find the crossword puzzle.
The pesky kid started up again, “She got thirteen…” I grabbed his arm and pushed him into the kitchen with a hushed whisper, “Dad does NOT need you to bother him with the contents of the mail.”
“But, I was just gonna’…” I gave him the eye and he moved on.
I sat back down in my chair to finish my reading. All was quiet for a minute or so and then dad turned to me and said, “What kind of research are you doing?”
“Uh…you know, research-research for my next story.”
“Oh. Sounds interesting. Tell me more about it.”
“Well, you know, uh, research about things that I need to look up and find out and that kind of sort of thing.”
He put his crossword puzzle down. A dangerous sign. I put my nose deep in my book.
“What did you get thirteen of in the mail today?” He took another track.
I pretended innocence. “What? In the mail? Oh, that, well, it was a few books. For my research.” I smiled and lowered my eyes back to the page.
Dad persisted. “Research books? What kind?”
I smiled too brightly, “You know, books, plain ol’ books. Nothing special.”
He got that look in his eye. “Books? When I ask you what you do all day and you say ‘research,’ are you really just reading a book?”
I arch my brow and cock my head, “Certainly not! I am doing important research for my job.”
He stared at me and tapped his pencil on the folded paper. I smiled steadily and serenely. He couldn’t think of anything to say. I had him stumped.
Finally, he cleared his throat, “What you really mean is that sometimes you read all day and call it research.”
Chin held high, I haughtily replied, “What I mean is, I am busy at work researching. You know, I look at the sentence structure and the introductions. As a writer, I have to see how others are writing.”
He pondered a moment, “Ah…I see. How can you tell the difference?”
I tried the vacant look. I sipped my hot chocolate and waited for him to continue.
He repeated, “How. Do. You. Know. when you are just reading and when you are researching?”
In triumph I raised an eyebrow and gave him his favorite answer, “Yes.”
Silent moments piled up.
I spent that night “researching” on the couch.