Monday, January 25, 2010

And the Little Old Man Just Kept On Going

Husbands. Who can figure them out?

I witnessed a minor event a few weeks ago that really started me pondering the matter. Here’s what happened.

As my husband and I were strolling up the sidewalk on Caroline Street in Key West, we noticed an elderly man riding a rental bicycle along the side of the street. In a wire basket attached to the handlebars was a little white mop dog. I don’t know the breed, I’m sorry to say, but you know what kind I’m talking about.

The man was dressed in typical tourist garb – short sleeve button down shirt, plaid shorts, black socks above his calves, and dress shoes. The dog was wearing a pink bow and a collar that sparkled in the sun. The man was talking to the dog, oblivious to what was happening around him . . . or behind him. Which was a major mistake.

Because behind him was his wife, also on a rental bike. She was a small, frail woman with white permed hair, a neatly pressed flowered azure blouse, matching azure capri pants, and sturdy brown sandals. As she drew even with us, she began to wobble, and suddenly she was headed straight for the curb, saying in a faint voice, "Oh, my."

We gasped as she hit the curb and did a slow motion tumble to the ground. We rushed over to make sure she was okay (she was), then we helped her up. It was obvious she hadn’t ridden in years, maybe decades, but because her husband wasn’t even aware that she’d gone down, and was now at the far end of the block, she had no choice but to get back on the bike and follow him.

Which she attempted valiantly, until her bike began to wobble again, and like a rerun, she hit the curb and fell a second time. Meanwhile, her husband was still talking to the dog, still oblivious to his wife’s situation, and as we watched, he turned the corner and kept on going. Not once had he glanced back to see if his wife was following.

“What the heck is the matter with him?” my husband asked, as we continued to watch the little woman wobble and fall until she, too, turned the corner.

Right. Like he didn’t know. Like he didn’t remember the time in New York when he went through the revolving doors into our hotel and headed up to the reservation desk, leaving me to struggle with a rolling suitcase, which somehow got me wedged inside the doors. The doorman had to stop it to get me out.

Or the time my husband led the way through a crowd outside a movie theater in Chicago, never once checking to see if I was behind him, while two guys in black trench coats surrounded me and tried to take my purse off my shoulder. My husband never saw the wily move I made to elude them. His loss.

I call it The Oblivious Husband Syndrome. OHS, if you will. (Although once you give it letters, a big pharm company somewhere will start to work on a pill for it.) I don’t know if all husbands come down with OHS, but I’ll bet it's common enough that some of you have stories. Want to share them?