Tuesday, October 20, 2009


“I won’t have cell phone service, you know,” Brian warned me on his last phone call before heading out into the Montana wilderness for a hunting trip. “I won’t get to call you every night to tell you I’m okay.”

“Well then, I guess no news will be good news,” I said. “I’ll try not to worry – at least until I get a phone call from a strange hospital.”

“Sounds good,” he replied.

“Stay safe then,” I said. “I love you.”

I’m not usually a worrier – thank the Lord that He didn’t saddle me with that particular problem (along with the others, of course). So the next few days that passed were an interesting experience. I didn’t hear from Brian, because he simply couldn’t call. I felt sort of like an 1800s pioneer woman – no phone, no news, and a burly man out stalking winter game.

Then came a call from my friend, whose husband was out hunting with Brian, and who lives just a few hours from the place they were camping.

It wasn’t bad news. But let me tell you – it could’ve been bad.

“The guys are staying in a hotel,” she told me. “They’ve been there for a couple of days. The weather has been unbelievably cold, and they just can’t camp out anymore. Here’s the phone number to the hotel room – usually they get in from dinner at 9:30, so try calling then. When I talked to them last night, they hadn’t gotten anything – but they’re doing well.”

At first, I was relieved to know that Brian was safe and warm at night. What a comfort.

And then the evil witch, the Old Maegan, showed up and booted that comforting thought right out of my brain. And the Old Maegan started to get mad. “He’s been in a hotel room?!” she shrieked. “And he hasn’t called you once?”

The Old Maegan can get really angry, really fast. So I, the New Maegan Who’s Read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, had to think quickly. “There’s got to be a good explanation,” I responded calmly. “Maybe his friend is hogging the phone. Or maybe the time difference is the problem – maybe he doesn’t want to call me so late and wake me up. So really… isn’t he sweet?”

No. I didn’t think the Old Maegan would buy that. “Ha!” ‘Sweet’ is not the word I’d use to describe that sort of behavior, missy,” she steamed. “No matter what excuse he has, it is not going to be good enough. And you know there’s not even going to be an excuse. He’s just going to shrug and say, ‘Sorry, honey – didn’t think you’d want a phone call’. Ugh! What a lousy, uncaring, selfish-”

“Now you stop right there!” said I, the New Maegan Who’s Read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. “The fact is, Old Maegan, that Brian doesn’t need an excuse. Even if he comes home and tells me that the reason he didn’t call was because he was too tired, or not interested in talking, or just plain enjoying the absence of my conversation, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a good man, and I am lucky to have him. And I am not going to let you yell at him the first moment that I do talk to him on the phone. He does not deserve that.”

“Baloney,” she shot back. “I’m always right about that Brian.”

“Actually,” responded the New Maegan Who’s Read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, “you are never right about him. And you are no longer going to make his life miserable just because you don’t feel like a princess.”

She was quiet.

Two or three days more passed. Each night I tried to call the hotel room, the phone would ring a dozen times with no answer. Two nights I heard from my friend, who related all their news. And each time, the Old Maegan rose up in anger (“You mean to tell me that her husband is calling her while Brian lays on that hotel bed watching television? Just you wait until I get a hold of him-”). But each time, the New Maegan Who’s Read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands shot her down. I was bound and determined not to whine to – or, God forbid, yell at – Brian the moment he DID call.

The next night, I tried calling again. It was later than I had been trying before, and to my surprise, his friend picked up the phone. “Brian’s just getting out of the shower,” he said. “Your timing is great.”

And I heard Brian’s warm voice on the other end. “Hi, honey.” He sounded weary.

“Babe!” I said happily. “It’s so good to hear your voice. How has it been going?”

“Tiring.” He told me about the last couple of days, long days of walking and stalking, to no avail. “Nobody’s gotten anything yet.”

“Yeah, I figured I would have heard from you, if you had.”

“Oh! I’m sorry I haven’t called. I couldn’t. I don’t get any reception here, and this hotel phone doesn’t dial out long-distance numbers. I’m glad you caught me.”

Ahhh. There it was. The New Maegan Who’s Read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands had known there would be a good excuse. “I told you!” I gloated to the Old Maegan. “I knew it. You are no good around here. You should just beat it.”

She had nothing to say. And as I hung up the phone with my good man, the one I don’t deserve but somehow got anyway, I smiled. The Old Maegan used to cause all those arguments, I thought. But someday, she won’t even bother showing up anymore.