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My husband scribbled this on a notepad and slipped it to me. All I could do was roll my eyes.

Lately things have gone missing from my house. That’s not all that unusual given the fact that we have a tween, a toddler and two dogs. At first we lost the baby’s bottle, the cap to our air mattress and a bottle of prescription medicine, all in the space of three or four days. We found the air mattress cap eventually, it was in Janey’s toy box (she can be a little squirrel-like sometimes). After that we just shrugged our shoulders and chalked it up to “one of those things.”

About a week ago something really odd happened. I was getting myself and the baby ready one morning and I was holding her and one of her shoes. She was holding the other shoe. I walked downstairs, sat down, put her shoe on and reached for the one she was holding. It was gone.

Not just sorta gone. Gone. Ceased to exist. I looked everywhere. The last time I had seen it was thirty seconds earlier. I retraced my steps (bathroom-stairs-chair) about three times. I still haven’t found it. You tell me where it went. A few days ago my husband lost his glasses. Now, if you’re one of those people with truly terrible vision you know that you just don’t lose glasses. If I ever lost mine and didn’t have a backup pair of contact lenses I wouldn’t be able to leave my house. My husband has the same problem. Every night he puts his glasses either on the floor next to the bed or on the dresser. But they’re gone. He woke up one morning and they were just not there.That evening he gave me his hypothesis.

“You know,” he said, choosing his words ever so carefully, “someone did die in this house.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked, incredulous.

If you knew my husband you‘d know how ridiculous that statement was. He’s an atheist. Not just any old atheist. You might say he’s Atheist Plus. He’s a confirmed skeptic. He doesn’t just not believe in God, he doesn’t believe in anything that you can’t quantify, measure, explain and verify with a double-blind study. It goes with the territory of being a biologist.

Since I’m a Martin Sheen Catholic, it sometimes makes very interesting conversation around our house. Mr. Rizzuto hasn’t talked me out of being a Catholic, but he has definitely talked me out of believing in ghosts. I used to think idea of ghosts was fascinating. Now I just think it’s silly.

“Well,” he continued, “remember that lady in the picture?” Oh. The lady in the picture.

When we first bought our house a little old man dropped by and told us that it used to belong to his grandmother around the turn of the (20th) century. Apparently she was killed on the street out front when she was hit by a vehicle of some sort. He left us a picture of the house with her standing in front of it. She’s wearing a big flowery hat, the shadow of which obscures her face. She’s also wearing a long white dress with puffy sleeves. Very spooky stuff. I suppose if I were going to nominate anyone to haunt a house it would be her.

“Are you saying that that lady is haunting our house? Are you OF ALL PEOPLE saying we have a ghost?”

“I’m not really saying anything…”

“OK, why would she be haunting the house? She died outside. Shouldn’t she be haunting the street?”

“Well, don’t you thing she’d spend her time trying to get back into the house?”

“So why is she taking our stuff?”

“She’s still pissed off at being run over!”

Duh.

This afternoon Mr. Rizzuto thoroughly cleaned out our bedroom. He even cleaned under the bed. We don’t normally talk about what might be going on under the bed.

“The glasses are not here,” he proclaimed. “They are not in the house.”

“OK,” I said. “Maybe you got up, went to the bathroom, put your glasses down and they fell behind the sink or something.” I was really reaching.

“I’ve never done that before, but you’re probably right.” That’s when he picked up the notepad and wrote me the note.

Whatever. I wasn’t going to sit around and listen to some nonsense about a shoe-stealing ghost. What would the kids think? Kids rely on their parents to keep a cool head at times like these. So I did what any reasonable person would do. I went upstairs, locked myself in the bathroom and said a prayer to St. Jude.

Superstitions. Phooey.

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My husband, Mr. Rizzuto, is a biology teacher. Specifically he teaches botany to middle-school kids. He is also an avid photographer. This means that he spends a great deal of time growing things, thinking about growing things, talking about growing things, taking pictures of the things he wants to grow and schlepping the family along behind him on his wildlife outings.Mr. Rizzuto’s passion at the moment is mushrooms. He even has a mushroom field guide, which is essential. Apparently there are several mushrooms species out there that are not only poisonous but look a lot like perfectly innocent, edible mushrooms.“You better hope I never decide to kill you,” I tell him sometimes. “I know just how I’ll do it too. I’ll pull the old switcheroo with the poisonous mushrooms and tell them I made a horrible mistake. Now change the baby.”Mr. Rizzuto’s goal in life is to get a booth at a local farmer’s market and sell pricey mushrooms to yuppies.“Do you have any idea how much hen-of-the-woods mushrooms are going for these days?” he asks. I don’t even know what a hen-of-the-woods mushroom is. But being the dutiful wife I bite my tongue and mosey on over to the high-end grocery store to price them. He’s right of course. Yuppies spend upwards of $30 for a pound of fungus. They come in strange colors and shapes and have weird names. Some of them you can’t even get unless you have a highly educated pig to sniff them out for you.

Today it was unseasonably warm out. Mr. Rizzuto wanted to take full advantage. “It’s nice out,” he said. “Let’s go take some pictures.”

This was not good news for me. While I support Mr. Rizzuto in his scientific and artistic adventures, being his assistant is not all it’s cracked up to be. It usually involves Mr. Rizzuto walking through the woods mumbling Latin names to himself while I follow behind with an increasingly heavy baby strapped to my back. All the while I have to entertain my complaining 8-year-old who wants nothing more than to be locked in his room with his Game Cube and 60 pounds of Halloween candy. Once I had to jump up and down on a log so Mr. Rizzuto could get a picture of spores floating out of a puffball mushroom. I don’t complain though. After all, the mushroom business could be very lucrative and I have to pay for college for two kids. And possibly a pig.

This morning we struck gold. We found puffball mushrooms, shelf mushrooms and, joy of joys, oyster mushrooms.

“Look at that!” Mr. Rizzuto exclaimed. He spotted a big bunch of oysters. Attached to a 60 foot tree.

“How are you going to get them down?” Dante asked. “I wanna go home. I didn’t want to come here anyway. I’m missing Pokemon.”

“Waaaaahhhhhhh!” said Janey.

“Honey, the baby’s getting tired of this. She’s heavy. I’m sending Dante to find a switch that I can beat him with, and I think I just saw the Blair Witch. Can we go?”

“OK, just let me climb the tree. It’ll only be a few more minutes.”

An hour later we were back in the car.

“Oyster mushrooms, Wanda. Can you believe it? We’re going to have oyster mushrooms. You can cook them, right?”

Great.

After much debate, research and some internet surfing I decided to just toss them into my smothered chicken. Luckily, according to Wikipedia oyster mushrooms are often eaten because they don’t have a poisonous counterpart. But just in case, as we always do when mushroom tasting, we kept one in the fridge. That one is for the coroner to identify.

“If these mushrooms are poisonous I’ll bleeping kill you,” I tell Mr. Rizzuto

“Does Dante know what to do if we get sick?”

Good question.

“Dante! You know what to do if there’s an emergency, right?”

“Yes,” he says. “Call 911.”

“Good,” I tell him.

“Don’t forget to put the dogs under the stairs,” Mr. Rizzuto adds. Excellent point. If the dogs are allowed to roam free the paramedics will need paramedics.

“Well honey, being married to you is never dull, “ I say.

“Really? Well, look on the bright side. If nothing else you’ll have something to write about.”

“I’ve already got it right here,” I tell him, tapping my head. “But if these mushrooms are poisonous, I’ll bleeping kill you.”

With that he gives me a sideways smile.

“You won’t have to.”