Sorry from the Shower (Text Interpretation)

A man and his wife get into an argument about religion. The argument is trivial, but it’s the type that can break up a new marriage. She, a strict catholic, allows no room for interpretation as far as religious viewpoints are concerned. He believes there is a God, but wonders what kind of god would send every person of non-religion or different religion to hell, despite the life they lived. They attend a party. It’s the wife’s friend’s house; the friend and the wife are in the same Bible study class. The husband goes to the bathroom. Every wall in the bathroom is a mirror, a technique used to make a room look bigger. Why they would want the bathroom to look bigger, the husband doesn’t know. There are three switches on the wall: one is for the fan that makes the mirrors clear during or after a shower, one is for the white fluorescent lights above the sink and medicine cabinet that wife turns on to apply her red blush and black cherry lip gloss, the last is for a red heat lamp light that is located directly above the toilet, used during the winter to keep the temperature the same in the shower and outside. The husband turns on the red heat lamp on accident, but he doesn’t bother to turn it off. Sitting on top of the toilet is a green Buddha statue that smiles and waves as its belly pokes out from behind his robe. The red light makes the Buddha’s smile look sinister, the opposite of the intended effect. The husband finishes and leaves the seat up. The wife is talking to her friend around a cheeseboard with grapes and strawberries. She sips a merlot that resembles the gloss on her friend’s lips. Her friend goes to mingle with the rest of her guests and to change the music from African rhythms to something classical. “I didn’t know I was in the middle of such hypocrisy,” the husband tells his wife. “I don’t know what you mean,” the wife says. “I was just talking about that Buddha in the bathroom. I couldn’t concentrate on a damn thing, that Buddha looking at me pissin’.” “Well, when did you become so offended by religions other than Christianity? I thought you were the one who thinks everyone is okay, even if the Bible says different.” “I’m just saying. When you talk the talk, you should walk the walk too. I don’t go to a Bible study group and worship the devil in the shitter.” “You’re impossible. Since when does a stupid decoration mean anything?” “Don’t say that about your almighty cross hanging above the alter down at St. Timothy’s. Father Gerald would have a goddamn fit.” “Don’t use those words in my presence. We’re leaving.” The wife walks over to where her friend is standing next to silver-framed picture of a Matisse painting. The friend is raving about the mozzarella and tomato salad someone brought. There was never enough food at this kind of party. The host always made something like white turkey chili and relied on her guests to supply the rest of the food. “You know, I not feeling well, I think I drank too much wine. I’m sorry, but I think we are going to leave,” the wife makes an excuse for her premature exit. “Oh, sorry to hear that. I hope you feel better for church tomorrow morning.” There is an unspoken rule between these people that allows for an exit from a party when there is trouble between couples. The friend understands. The car ride home is silent. Acoustic instrumental music plays over the factory speakers, in their navy blue station wagon with black leather interior. When the guitarist plays the notes, there is a sense of relief in the momentary beauty, while the screeching of the strings is endured in between the chords. The wife wishes her husband believed what she did. Religion is a kind of security policy for her, used to prevent internal damnation that is bought and sold at church every Sunday. The husband doesn’t want the rest of the world’s souls to be damned to hell, and he claims his protest of church is for them, but part of it is lack of motivation. He counts the light posts as they ride through a suburban neighborhood, touching his forefinger to his thumb and releasing every time his window is even with a light pole. He hates the sight of fluorescent bulbs. Yellow light always seemed more homely to him than the blue-purple that shined and hummed on the streets, in public restrooms, and above office cubicles. They arrive home. He goes to the basement. An old green and blue striped sofa, with red flowers embroidered in the middle of each color, sits in the corner next to a wooden nightstand with old national geographic magazines in its drawers. His feet stick off the end and his neck sits on the armrest. She goes up to their bed, a white comforter engulfs her body, but she rolls to the spot where her husband usually sleeps. The frames of their bodies are left in the bed, permanently imprinted into the old, yellow mattress that was once white and puffy. Each wakes every hour and stares at the matching alarm clocks in their respective places of slumber. The light shines green on their faces. They close their eyes again and sleep for a time. It’s nine in the morning. He is cold and sore in the neck. She is sitting on the edge of the bed brushing her long, dark Italian hair. She hears the shower start and realizes her husband is awake. She hopes his night of sleep was better than hers. He lathers his body. Always, he washed his body and then his hair. The tiles on the shower walls were black and white in no apparent pattern unless you studied them closely while sitting on the toilet or when taking a long shower to avoid the day ahead. The doorknob rattles. They never locked a door in their house. Most of the old knobs in the house required a master key, and they were the only two in the old white one-story. “Can I brush my teeth while you’re in there?” “Yeah, go ahead.” They tend to their hygiene in silence. Foam covers her teeth and drips down her chin. The husband applies a bluish white cap of soap to his head, the shampoo is anti-dandruff. She brushes so much that there is no longer any toothpaste in his mouth. He is standing in the steam, the water rushing over his soap less body. “Sorry.” “It’s okay.” She puts up her toothbrush next to his, and he turns off the shower. She walks into the bedroom, and follows with a towel too small for his body wrapped around his waist. She is wearing a blue dress with a red ribbon tied around her waist. He thinks she resembles a child, but her beauty is mature as well. He puts on a pair of dark brown khakis and a button-up short-sleeved shirt, white with blue squares. “Where are you going all dressed up?” She asks. “To church,” he responds without expression. She smiles at the corner of her lips and he smiles with his eyes. They get into the navy blue station wagon. The same music continues from the night before, beautiful chord to screech, to beautiful chord. The sun shines through the front windshield. Both smile as the yellow light fills the car.
Sun 3/21/2010 3:14 PM