One minute my husband’s sneaking up behind me in the pantry, threatening, “Your chocolate or your rice,” and the next second he’s saying he wants to simplify and move to Alaska “so that the only thing we have to worry about every day is food.” I personally don’t see the benefit of dispatching ourselves of modern amenities such as grocery stores, and going all Donner-party. Every day, the only thing they worried about was food. When all was said and done, they ate each other.
Honing those types of survival skills doesn’t interest me. I would link the carnal unraveling of the Donner Party to the dismal and catastrophic shortage of chocolate provisions. And without a brick of chocolate to chew myself, the sound of my husband’s voice romanticizing homesteading on a frozen patch of Arctic Circle dirt makes my teeth hurt; it scrapes against my cardboard fragment of patience.
He pulls the chain to turn on the pantry light and rummages through my usual hiding places. “It’s my nerves,” he teases while raiding my chocolate stash. My jaw tightens. Imagine how much more danger he would face if this same scenario played out in a pantry of shelves lined with nothing but pickled sweet potatoes. What sane man would wish that on himself?
I tell him what I’m really thinking. I tell him he can go to Alaska if he wants to, but that he’s going alone. Chocolate doesn’t grow there and I don’t want to subsist for eight months on pickled sweet potatoes. People who do that end up looking like Jack Nicholson squeezing his unshaven face through a hacked-out crack in the door. It’s a fate too ugly to bear.
We’ll have to fake my husband’s death, if he chooses to take me up on the offer to go without me. The kids and I will need the life insurance money.
“How do you think we could do that?” he asks, sincerely. And either he’s serious about securing an out from his current obligations, or he’s testing to determine how in-depth I’ve premeditated his demise. On top of that, the only nugget our pantry search turns up is the discovery that someone pilfered the chocolate he gave me for Christmas. For a man who delights in the idea of storing up enough food in Alaska’s four one-degree-above-freezing months to last through the eight fifty-below-and-buried-in-snow months, the concept of rationing seems lost on him.
This revelation very nearly eliminates the need to fake a death by any one of a number of calculated schemes. It very nearly results in an impulse-driven, likely painful and slow, bungled mess of a job. I can’t think clearly without my daily dose of chocolate.
Fortunately, we aren’t discussing this dire predicament in the pantry of a shack planted on the hardscrabble landscape of Alaska. He can prevent me from axing through the door and announcing, “Here’s Johnny!” by making the short drive up the street to the store; no need to harness the sled dogs and mush to Fairbanks.
One minute he’s grabbing the car keys and talking about how I need to wear a bikini this summer, and the next second he’s acknowledging that I’m right to refuse Alaska, saying, “You’re wiser than your years.” But just when the whole galling Alaska suggestion is almost forgiven and forgotten, he adds, “That’s getting harder and harder for you.”
What’s truly hard is deciding if I’d rather he go down the street to the store for some chocolate or go on and try his plow and trowel in Alaska.