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What I do when my wife is not at home

June 26, 2018

1Julie kissed me good-bye and loaded into the first van with her teen friends. My daughter was heading to camp in North Carolina, and the kids were chattering happily.  My wife Jill was going along as a sponsor;  she was in the third vehicle of the little caravan that would be heading off for the week-long adventure.

She gave me a hug and kiss.  “What will you do all week by yourself?” she said.  “I’m afraid you’ll be lonely.”

“Well,” I said, importantly, “I have some college essays to grade, and then I need to go over some other textbooks, you know, to get ready for the school year in the fall. Besides, I need some solitude for other studying.”

She nodded in a deeply understanding way.  “Well, we are probably out of cell phone range, so if you can’t get through to my phone, you’ll know why.”  She stepped into the van.  I nodded bravely.

“I’ll get by until Saturday.  The important thing is that you have a good time, ” I said, as she closed the door and blew me an innocent kiss.  I stood waving as the little band of vehicles slowly pulled out of the church parking lot.

I waved and waved to the caravan.  They waved back.  All the way to the edge of the horizon.

They were gone.

I leaped into my ’92 Jeep and floored it for all it was worth, heading to the house.  I careened down North Illinois, sliding the car around turns like Starsky and Hutch.  I zoomed down Tuskegee and into our neighborhood, screeching along our driveway and slamming on the brakes just short of the fence.

I dove into the house, cackling with glee.  I slammed the door and threw the deadbolt lock.  I have a week by myself.  A week by myself.

And I did what I am absolutely not allowed to do whenever my wife and daughter are in the house.

I leaped into the kitchen and broke out every imaginable form of garlic.  Yes, garlic.

My wife and daughter have an open revulsion to the taste and even smell of garlic. This is a deeply disturbing reality to me, coming from Eastern European stock.  I love garlic, onions and all the other smelly herbs and vegetables you can think of.  This does not make for a peaceable marriage.  I cannot cook garlic in the house.  In fact, I cannot even eat a restaurant plate of a garlic-laced chicken or pasta because I carry the odor home with me.  Even after three toothbrushings, a mouthwashing and hand scrubbing, I am hounded out of the household.

There were two Garlic Incidents that remain in the Zockoll lore to this day.  Once was when I unexpectedly feasted on a West Knoxville eatery’s specialty spaghetti.  It was delicious – and also permeated with the purest garlic you can buy.  That evening I was not allowed in the same room with the family.  I think I slept on the deck that night.

The second time was years later and both my sons were in their middle-school years.  We went to a Mongolian grill restaurant with some good friends and the father of the family made an ill-conceived comment that you can put as much garlic as you want on  your dish, because when they grill it, the smell is “cooked away”.  Naively, I accepted this as fact and heaped spoonfuls of garlic on my meal, handing it happily to them for grilling.

He did not speak the truth.

An hour later as the whole Zockoll clan strolled the walking trail around All Saints Church, I urped.  Small, but distinctive.  It hissed out of my teeth with a sound like a Greyhound bus pulling out of the station.  Hissssssuusshhhh

“Man, Dad, that really smells,” exclaimed Nicholas behind me, covering his nose.

I went to respond, but the second one came out as a clear burp.  I am usually more circumspect in open society, but this could not be helped.

Peter almost fell to his knees.  Jill swooned.  “Dad,” Peter cried.  “At least let us get in front of you, so we don’t get the smell.”

I grinned in wicked delight.  This was too good to pass up.  I broke out in a sprint as the rest of the family yelled, trying to get ahead of me.  As I ran I couldn’t help but keep burping garlic.  They were screaming behind me. The passing cars must have wondered why a middle-aged man was running happily open-mouthed ahead of an agitated wife and kids in a full-out sprint.  It would have made for a great photo.

I haven’t had the taste of garlic in years.

Until this week.

I am eating garlic on salads.

Garlic on cucumbers.

Garlic in my hummus.

Garlic on eggs.

Garlic on my popcorn.

You think of the food, I’m going to put garlic on it.  I am totally serious about this.  If you think I am kidding, take a look at the picture below.  That is my computer and that is my hand holding my recently-purchased treasures.

I think I might sprinkle garlic in the almond milk.

The way I figure it, I can overdose on garlic until Thursday.  That’ll give me a full day to get it out of my system and scrub the house down of any odors.

My wife will never know.  If any of you read this and contact her at camp, I will find you and hurt you.

I must go.  There is a whole universe of garlic I need to explore.

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