The first time I contracted cabin fever I came very close to committing murder, and my husband of thirty plus years came whisker close to having his skull bashed in with a baseball bat. The two events were connected.
My husband got me to move to a state with north in the title by telling me, that while it got brisk in the wintertime, it never snowed, or at last report, there had not been snow in North Carolina since the Civil War.
I bought it. We moved. Our first winter arrived. There was a freak snowstorm that dumped two feet of snow across a sheet of glacier ice, which floated over a river of liquid sleet, piled on top of hell—which had, in fact, frozen over. The fine state of North Carolina was, to put it nicely, not ready. Our little band of strangers in a strange land was snowed in for two weeks.
I was not ready.
I contracted cabin fever on day two of our entrapment. Cabin fever is a malady that causes the sufferer to experience irrational irritations over seemingly minor annoyances magnified by a factor of about twelve, times the national debt, multiplied by 666. An infected person gets stinky mean.
Until we were “snowed in” or as I liked to describe it “buried alive,” I had not really noticed that my darling husband had been saying exactly the same thing every single morning of every single day, for the entire span of our thirty years of marriage.
HE HAS SAID THE EXACT SAME THING, EVERY SINGLE MORNING OF EVERY SINGLE DAY, FOR THIRTY YEARS –THE EXACT SAME THING—EVERY! SINGLE! DAY!
Every morning he has sat straight up in bed and said, “Well, I guess I’ll go and get cleaned up now.”
And it’s not JUST that he says the EXACT SAME THING. It’s WHAT he’s saying. He “guesses” he’s going to get cleaned up! What would the alternatives be? To get up but not get “cleaned up” and walk around with a Wooly Mammoth on his face all day, or to not get up at all, remain in bed in his own filth, and eventually have his skin grow into the mattress (and yes, that can happen, I saw it on TV!)
By day five or six of being snowed in and with a cabin fever of about 212 degrees, I had not only picked up on this unfortunate verbal pattern, but I had started waiting for the inevitable, predictable, rhythmic cadence of his morning declaration like a cobra tracking the movements of a wounded mongoose.
On day seven, I rolled towards him and with eyes narrowed to slits and with a reptilian hiss said, “Sherwood, Do you know that you say the exact same thing, every single day, and that if you say it tomorrow I can’t be held accountable. There is a baseball bat under this bed. It is for crushing the brains out of the heads of robbers, but I will use it--on you--if you repeat yourself ever again. I swear it.”
He backed carefully away from his side of the bed, his eyes focused like laser beams on my face.
“I mean it. I’ll do it.” By this time, I had quit brushing stuff (hair, teeth) . I was close to terminal.
That day passed as snow drifted, settled, melted, and re-froze. I floated in our garden tub like a giant lily pad in water hot enough to blanche carrots. The night brought another ice storm and the sound of tree trunks blowing up. The water inside the trees froze, expanded, and then exploded, sending splinters of wood catapulting away into the night—also into the siding of the houses. Trees toppled. Expensive landscaping froze to death. Morning came.
I waited under the blankets. Wrapped in knee socks, flannel pajamas, a bathrobe, and an overcoat, I lovingly stroked the baseball bat that I clutched to my chest hidden under the covers. Tension pulsated through my hands and fingers and hair, as I lay in wait, er . . . I mean . . . waiting for my husband to wake up.
Sitting straight up in bed, he said, “I guess I’ll go and . . .”
My hands tightened around the baseball bat. He paused and got strangely still, the way a rabbit goes still when it smells fangs.
“I guess I’ll go and . . . get a shower.”
Adrenalin oozed from between my fingers. I relaxed. He showered. The thaw came.
Winter in Florida is a bit different. We have a few of those murky winter days that make going out an ugly business, so we put on a sweater and walk fast to the car. I haven’t had cabin fever as much as cabin canker sores.
As I write this, Sherwood is in bed calling me on his cell phone. He is, literally, ten feet away from my desk, sending a signal into outer space, so that it can bounce off a satellite and ricochet back to earth. He’s propositioning me. Sometimes he calls me on his cell phone from the bathroom to ask me for toilet paper.
Spring cannot come soon enough.
Linda (Spring Fling) Zern