Excerpt #24: A Perfectly Good Man

From the author:

This brief scene contains the first time "perfectly good" is used in this book. While she certainly didn't coin the phrase, I thought of my mom whenever I wrote it. I grew up with a toaster that only toasted one side of the bread (that shows up later in the book) and an ice cream scoop that spun on the handle when you tried to scoop and many other things where you had to know the trick to use it. For a few years, all our VHS tapes played with a rolling band of static no matter where you set the tracking knob. Mom answered every complaint with, "That's a perfectly good _____."

From the book:

    I didn’t need to be at work until 11 o’clock on Monday, but my alarm sounded at 6:45 as usual. I sat up so I wouldn’t fall asleep again and glared at my alarm clock. Its harsh tone flashed me back to the too early mornings of high school. Tyler would call soon though, and it was easier on both of us if I was awake before the phone rang.
He liked to talk to me at the start of each day. The problem was that he liked to start his days earlier than I did mine. When he first began waking me up with phone calls, I suggested he could send good morning texts that I could respond to, you know, after the sun came up. And after I had some coffee.
    He said he liked to hear my voice.
    That was so sweet I willingly got up earlier to hear his voice, too. I did talk him into calling a bit later though. His 7 AM calls were a compromise. By that time, he’d already gone for a run, had a shower, and eaten breakfast. I asked myself what my mornings would look like if I had a husband who got out of bed at a ridiculously early time. The answer was… a lot different. My twin bed wasn’t big enough to share with anyone. I didn’t want to think about change right then. Mornings, beds, husbands… change… my head was swimming in thoughts I hadn’t intentionally put there.
    Think about today only, I commanded myself. I shuffled into the kitchen to try to accomplish something while I waited for my phone to ring. I planned to make chili for dinner so I set my crock pot on the counter and began hunting through the cupboard for the right cans.
    My can opener used to belong to my parents. The plastic covering on the handle was chipped in places so it dug into my palm if I held it wrong. The blade had gotten dull. It required strong pressure to puncture the lid and something had recently happened to the gear so that it only worked when I turned it backwards.
    Tyler called as I was opening the second can. “Hello,” I said, wincing as I squeezed hard to get the can started.
    “Morning, baby.” He sounded wide awake. “You’re off at seven tonight, right?”
    “Uh, yeah.” That sounded like a long time away at the moment. Why was I starting a dinner we wouldn’t need until then? Oh, right. Because if I’d done nothing, I’d have fallen asleep.
    “John said it might be his turn to cook. Should we take him up on the offer?”
    I grunted at the stupid can opener even though I was the one who forgot to turn it the other way. “No… I mean, I’m working on dinner as we speak.” My voice probably betrayed how hard I was working on it.
    “Something that involves cans, I’m guessing.” I knew he was rolling his eyes at me. I couldn’t see it, but it was in his voice.
    I sighed as I finished the can and then clamped the opener onto the next one. “Chili,” I said.
    “Yum.” Tyler sounded pleased. Then he said, “Don’t hurt yourself with that can opener.”
    “I won’t.”
    “It really might be time to get a new one.”
    I let go of the thing to give my hand a rest. “It’s a perfectly good can opener,” I said. “It’s just too early in the morning to deal with it.”
    “All right. I’ll let you get to your day. I love you.”
    “Love you, too,” I said as I hung up. I mixed up the chili, reset my alarm for 9 AM, and crawled back into bed.

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