I scare easily.
People who have met me in real life know this. The slightest noise can make me jump. It doesn’t bother me though. Usually if a stranger causes me to yelp, they apologize profusely and I have to assure them that I’m okay, that I’m used to it.
I have no idea why I’m like this. I just am. Tom finds this hilarious. He likes to make sudden noises and jump out of closets. Then he’ll collapse into loud guffaws and gasp out that he’s sorry but that he’s never seen anything like it before.
“You’d think after being married for seven years that it would get old. It doesn’t,” Tom said, clutching his stomach while he laughed. He had just leaped out of the closet and had caused me to screech at the top of my lungs and rush out of the room with my arms straight up in the air.
It’s hard to imagine that he was so careful not to startle me when we were first dating. I remember he approached me at my locker one day after we had been going out for a week. I had been grabbing the dreaded Algebra book and then I slammed the locker door—and he was standing right there.
“EEEEE!” I went and nearly hurled the textbook at his face.
Tom looked horrified as he shielded his face in case I did let go of the Algebra book. “I’m so sorry,” he stammered. “I tried to be quiet. The last time I came up behind you, you did the same thing.”
He soon learned that I’d startle no matter what he did. And when he realized that being wired like a frenzied Chihuahua didn’t bother me, he didn’t take as much care when he approached me.
We should probably record my antics. I imagine we could win some money on America’s Funniest Home Videos. I’m always laughing at the ones where people shriek and rush out of the room. Then I feel better because I do the same thing. Of course, in their case, there is usually a person shoved into a cupboard wearing a mask. So when the other person opens it they’re met with a gruesome face staring back out at them. I think I’d practically go into convulsions if someone tried to do that to me.
Anyhow, I got it in my mind that I needed to scare Tom. I suddenly craved to see him startle and to possibly emit a yelp. I decided that I’d bounce up from my hiding spot beside the bed when Tom walked out of the bathroom after showering. I crotched down when I heard the shower switch off and covered my mouth to keep from giggling. The anticipation was bubbling in my stomach and I couldn’t wait to see Tom jump back in surprise.
Tom opened the bathroom door and steam wafted around him as he strolled out with the towel wrapped around his waist.
“BOO!” I screamed, throwing my hands out and curling my fingers as though they were claws.
Tom didn’t even flinch. He behaved as though he expected me to be there. “Hi Amber,” he said casually, opening the drawer to pull out some boxers.
Then, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, I ended up scaring myself.
Well, when I had bounced up from my hiding spot I must’ve knocked off one of the frames that were hanging on the wall. Because a few seconds after I tried to scare Tom, the picture went clattering to the ground.
Which made ME jump.
I mean, seriously? I go and try to scare someone else and I end up scaring MYSELF?
This could only happen to me.
I was not giving up though.
I tried to startle Tom later that night. When he was digging through the fridge I rushed in behind him and made an eerie “bwa-ha-ha” noise.
“Are you sick?” came Tom’s reply.
He didn’t even flinch. He just pulled out a Fanta and popped it open while looking at me with an expression that clearly showed that he thought of me as a certifiable nut.
“Why won’t you jump?” I shrieked. “Why can’t I scare you?”
Tom shrugged. “I don’t scare easily.”
It was probably because he was trained to expect the unexpected. As a military cop, he’s gone through class after class where he’s learned battle tactics. He’s probably just become immune to being startled.
I’ve tried to scare him in other ways too. I figure if I can’t get him to yelp, then I can at least alarm him.
So I casually said something like, “Michael Phelps came by and professed his love for me. We’re running off together.”
Tom’s reply? “While you’re out, could you pick up some Little Debbie snack cakes? We’re out.”
I just assumed he didn’t take me seriously because hello, I probably won’t ever meet Michael Phelps and he’s aware of this. If I ever did meet him, my tongue would become twisted in my mouth and I’d probably say something stupid like,
“So, I see you have big feet. You know what they say about men with big feet…” and then I’d turn a shade of scarlet and be kicking myself for saying such a thing. I mean honestly, who SAYS things like that? Me, that’s who. I mean, when Tom and I were first dating and he played football, I stupidly asked if he had to wear those crotch things in his uniform.
“Jock straps?” Tom wondered, raising his eyebrows in confusion.
“Er...yes?” I answered, wishing that the ground would swallow me up and put me out of my misery.
Because seriously. WHO ASKS THINGS LIKE THAT?
But anyhow, Michael Phelps, if he wasn’t totally disgusted, might smirk and be all, “No. What DO they say about people with big feet?” and enjoy watching me squirm and turn purple.
“Umm..that they’re smart of course. Um. Yeah. Oh, my cell phone is ringing,” I’d lie, digging into my purse.
Michael will look confused. “I didn’t hear—”
But by then, I’d have slinked away with the phone pressed to my ear even though no one had called in the first place.
Then Michael would Twitter something like, “Met weird fan. She asked about my feet.”
And in future interviews when he’s asked about the weirdest person he’s ever met, he’d be all, “Well, there was this girl who said something like, ‘you know what they say about people with big feet.’ I never realized people actually spoke like that.”
But anyhow, since Tom didn’t take Michael Phelps seriously I decided to use a real person.
“Tom, I’ve decided to run off to Hawaii with my ex-boyfriend!”
Tom just flipped through his magazine. “Could you pick up a souvenir if you go to Pearl Harbor? I’ve always want to go.”
“TOM!” I shouted. “Does ANYTHING scare you?”
He set his magazine down. “Not really. Why? Does that bother you?”
“YES!” I practically screamed.
Tom shrugged. “I just don’t get scared easily.”
“But it didn’t even bother you when I said that I was leaving with another man,” I pointed out.
“I want you to be happy. If that means going off with someone else then I’m not going to stop you,” Tom answered.
“But that’s not what being in love MEANS!” I wailed passionately. “You fight for the person.” When I said the word fight, I put my hand in a fist and punched the air for emphasis.
Tom shrugged again. “Why? Life is short and you should be happy. If you found someone else, sure I’d be sad, but I’d be fine.”
No girl wants to hear that. They want to hear that their former mate will be miserable and rolling around in bed in their own filth because they’re so distraught they can’t bring themselves to shower.
“I’d fight for you,” I pointed out gruffly. At this point I had plopped on the couch beside him and had angrily crossed my arms over my chest. In short, I was pouting.
“You won’t ever have to fight for me. I’m not going anywhere,” Tom said matter-of-factly.
“But just in case some hot soldier comes onto you and—” I started.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Tom repeated. He reached out and tried to take my hand. I sat back into the couch so that I was out of reach. I mean, my plans to frighten Tom had failed miserably and I was told that there would be no sword fights for my honor if another man tried to move in.
Okay, fine, I didn’t really expect sword fights. I probably thought about that because I was watching a few episodes of The Tudors and that’s just how things were done back then. These days I imagine fights are done via text messages or something.
“BCK OFF MY GRL.”
“Y? SHE’S HPY WTH ME.”
“I do love you very much,” Tom’s voice cut through my thoughts. He had scooted closer to me and had tossed an arm over my shoulders.
“Nothing REALLY scares you?” I asked meekly. It really was driving me insane.
Tom cocked his head to the side and thought for a few seconds. “Actually,” he replied. “Something does.”
My eyes lit up. “What?” I demanded. I wondered if he was going to admit to a fear of hobbits or something.
“I’m scared that Natalie will be upset with me for leaving,” Tom admitted. I could see his expression was slightly troubled. He even pretended to pick off an imaginary piece of lint from his pants. “I’ll be gone for two months. What if she hates me for it?”
My heart melted a little bit. Aw! He loves his little girl! Everyone loves a man who adores his daughter.
See, Tom will be gone for two months come April for dog training school. I can understand why Tom would be worried. After all, Natalie sometimes grows annoyed when he’s been at work all day. She’ll march over to him and tell him off in her baby language and then flounce away in a huff.
She forgives him fairly quickly though. All he has to mention is the h-word (horsie) and everything is fine again.
“Don’t worry. She’ll forgive you,” I told Tom firmly. I grabbed one of his hands. “I’ll just explain that you’re working. And when you call, you can talk to her.”
Tom pulled a face. “She’ll probably hang up on me.”
Well, maybe. I wouldn’t put it past Natalie.
“I’ll keep reminding her that we’ll be seeing you when you graduate in June. I’ll make it fun, an adventure,” I promised.
Tom gave a long sigh. “I just hope she forgives me.”
I gave him a side hug. “She will. She adores you.”
There was a silence. I was resting my head on Tom’s chest and listening to him breathe softly.
“One day, Tom,” I vowed as he held me. “I’m going to scare you. I’ll figure something out.”
Tom chuckled. “Sure. You might as well give up. I told you, I don’t scare easily.”
“I’ll figure something out,” I repeated sternly.
And I will.