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Published: Monday, February 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Valentine's Day might be a bit awkward

Taking a drive to Stanwood from Mill Creek became a time to test our renewed relationship. We've been married almost 40 years and are home together around the clock these days.
Loving attitudes need tweaking now and then. Passing time, we play little games with one another, like not wanting to use the last piece of toilet tissue so you aren't the guy putting a new roll on the spinner.
It's amusing to taunt and tease, but sadly we've allowed snippy attitudes to punctuate the routine.
For instance, after buying fuel at Fred Meyer in Lynnwood, Chuck asked me to check the trip odometer so he could calculate our miles per gallon.
With neither of us working, checking gasoline expenses is a way of life. He knew how many gallons he pumped, and I was supposed to announce the miles traveled on the last tank.
"Uh-oh," I said. "I forgot to reset the counter last time."
Such a tiny mistake.
Such a scene.
He snorted that I was brainless.
I fumed that my moron partner could have leaned over from the passenger seat and flipped the switch himself.
He blustered.
I bellowed.
As we drove out of the parking lot, it was obvious Mr. and Mrs. Snarky were overdue for a tuneup in the compassion department.
"We can have stupid conversations like this all day long," I suggested, "But we shouldn't be so harsh with one another."
Chuck agreed.
With plastered fake smiles, we drove to visit my folks, who live at Josephine Sunset Home in Stanwood. After a nice time, Chuck and I stopped for lunch at the Ram Restaurant and Brewery in Tulalip. In the next booth were two men dressed head to toe in camo.
"I wonder if they've already been to Cabela's," I whispered."Probably stocking up on bullets before the clampdown."
Chuck leaned over and reminded me about our 8-year-old granddaughter, Kelbi. When we introduced her to Cabela's after the store opened last year, she halted at the first lifeless Bambi.
"Did that use to be alive?" Kelbi asked, near tears.
"Yes," I cooed to the sensitive child. "It's been killed, stuffed and mounted."
She muttered, "Disturbing."
As we hurried past each glass-eyed critter, she repeated "Disturbing."
No, she didn't want to get a snack there. She wanted to skedaddle outside.
Ha, ha, ha, Chuck and I giggled. Then my mood took a turn. He dipped the last teaspoon out of my ranch dip container and slurped down an onion ring. I had three fries left to eat dry. Normally, I would have become rather ugly at this point. The new pleasant me was further tested when Chuck shared a hobby at the Ram. He adores watching car auction shows. There was such a program on a Ram TV.
We do not watch television in the same room at home.
Chuck implored me to keep cranking my neck around to see primo 1963 Chevys and restored Fords. That annoyed me, but in the spirit of kindness, I nodded my thrill as each hunk of metal hit the auction block.
I lied when I agreed that $143,000 was a bargain for something with four tires.
This new attitude could be draining.
We left the Ram and hit I-5, soon realizing we forgot the doggie bag holding half of Chuck's Grand Reuben. We normally would argue about who left the sandwich, but Chuck did not place the blame on me.
Maybe he grasped the concept of common civility.
Or not.
My worst road trip fear came to pass when my hubby fiddled with his iPod and hooked it up to the dashboard speakers. Off went my beloved KIRO talk radio and on came the morose crooning of a stale country-western warbler.
That really sparked my fuse. Normally, I would have gone for my mate's jugular, but instead, I ever so sweetly mentioned that I prefer Dori Monson to Ronnie Milsap.
"How about Conway Twitty?" Chuck asked.
The mere thought of a Twitty tune nearly exposed my less than sensitive side, but I held my tongue as noise pollution permeated my space for 12 miles home.
"I saw the look in your eye, looking into the night, not seeing what you wanted to see," Twitty sang. "Darling don't say a word, I've already heard, what your body is saying to mine."
Chuck had no idea what my body was saying to him.
It was harsh.
Kristi O'Harran, a former Herald columnist, lives in Mill Creek and misses sharing day-to-day stories with readers. Her email address is starlite68@hotmail.com.

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