Keeping the secret has grown tiresome. Sarah took a taxi to dinner at Spring last night, and somehow, over the course of a 15-minute ride, she became friends with the driver, exchanging information about their families and their travels. When they pulled up to the restaurant, Sarah looked at him.
“Wanna know a secret?”
The guy had probably heard those words from passengers before-he’s cheaper than a therapist, healthier than a bartender, less judgmental than a clergyman-but he was still thrilled when Sarah told him, and he got a big tip for his enthusiasm.
This means we have now revealed our “secret” to various friends, therapists, physicians, nurses, and cab drivers. Woodward and Bernstein kept Deep Throat’s identity hidden for 30 years; they had the biggest secret of all time, and they never gave it up. He did. We’ve got a simple, garden-variety pregnancy here, and in three weeks, we’ve blabbed it to somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 people.
I’m feeling more and more guilty that my parents still aren’t in on it. When they called recently, we had an awkward conversation during which I basically told them everything that was going on in my life other than the only thing that really mattered. I’m willing to make a bet: Every penny in my savings account that Woodward’s mom knew who Deep Throat was all along.
* * *
Sarah asked me to go for a walk the other night. On paper, it sounded like a great idea: fresh air, exercise, a change of scenery. Our neighborhood teems with impossibly well-adjusted kids we recognize, happy dogs we covet, gorgeous houses we can’t afford. So we walked.
But instead of enjoying the summer night, Sarah and I argued. Not about the pregnancy, but the heap of laundry, dishes, and unpaid bills our home has become. The washer and dryer are on the fritz. There’s a gaping hole in our kitchen floor and a leak in our living room ceiling. We still haven’t paid our taxes. We’re both working like maniacs and coming home exhausted, and more often than not, I just want to eat and watch a ballgame, and Sarah wants to go to bed. From what I understand, this malaise is normal in pregnant households. Heck, it’s common in all households. But still, we argued our way up and down Glenwood Avenue.
Once the yelling stopped, Sarah and I began to make a list of everything we needed to get done before this whole pregnancy thing kicks into overdrive. Though I have never understood the idea of spending time making lists rather than just doing whatever needs to be done, I put this distaste on hold because Sarah loves making lists.
When we got home, Sarah detected a weird smell. Meanwhile, I paid the bills and did the dishes. Even got the laundry started. She cleaned the bathtub, inhaling a dangerous combination of Drano and Fantastik and went to work on the living room. But when no matter how much she scrubbed and dusted and vacuumed, she still picked up a gross smell emanating from somewhere in the apartment. It had to be removed.
Once the kitchen was pinpointed, I was ordered to sniff every item in the fridge and throw out the old stuff while Sarah hid in the basement trying not to throw up. An hour later, the only thing left was condiments, so I scrubbed the shelves, took out the trash, and invited Sarah back into the kitchen.
“It still stinks,” she reported, before backing away and scurrying back down to the basement. I gave up. Her nose must have detected a backed-up toilet the next block over. Fifteen minutes later, Sarah walked in front on the TV, blocking my Sox game. “I know what the smell is,” she said.
“What is it?”
“Remember that lemon chicken?”
“I made it a couple months ago.”
“I don’t remember.”
“That’s because we never ate it.”
Somehow, shortly after she’d gotten pregnant, Sarah took an entire chicken, seasoned it with lemon, garlic, and rosemary, and absentmindedly left it in the oven overnight. Sixty-one nights. We apparently hadn’t used the oven in two months, and, as a result, hadn’t noticed our third roommate in there. At least someone had had the presence of mind to turn the oven off.
Sarah turned off the Sox game, and it was decided that I would inspect the damage. I put on a pair of gloves and creeped into the kitchen. The rancid smell that slapped me across the face the moment I opened the oven door left no doubt: I was in the Epicenter of Stink. There it was, a huge blue Creuset pot on the bottom shelf, patiently waiting to reveal its unimaginable horrors.
When I lifted the lid off the pot, something writhed in the darkness below. Something scurried. One hand over my nose, I slid the pot out and surveyed what was left of the bird. It was surrounded by lemons that were no color that ever seen in a rainbow and the chicken’s carcass had liquefied in some places and had bones poking out at weird angles in others. It looked like the drug addict who rots in bed for a year in Seven. With potatoes.
I’d rather not relive the next hour. But once everything was disposed of, scoured, disinfected, and back to normal, I took a shower, and Sarah-who wasn’t interested in details from the ordeal-finally decreed our home clean. The moral here, I suppose, is threefold: Going for a walk is good way to communicate, lists are helpful, and every morning before you leave for work, check the oven.