Several months ago, our big screen projection TV (only about five years old, I must mention) abruptly shut itself off and wouldn't come back on again. Bill researched the symptoms on the Internet and figured he could fix it with a $35 part. The only catch was the danger of electrocution from opening the set. We weighed the options and decided it wasn't worth the risk. It was the worst possible timing as we had just committed to our new budget, but I figured Bill would consider this a true emergency, and that we'd break into the sacred Emergency Fund.
Even after ten years, he can still surprise me. He made no mention of buying a new set, just moved his ancient 13-inch TV/VCR combo into the TV room. It looked so ridiculous sitting on Allyson's play table in front of our broken 47-inch set.
|Bump-Bumpity-Bump... Down to the Garage|
After a few days Bill commandeered Ethan's 30-something-inch set, a hand-me-down from my sister Amy. "Hey!" Ethan protested, but then he watched the 13-inch set without any complaints.
All was good until a few weeks ago, when the picture on the replacement TV started blacking out periodically. A firm stomp on the TV room floor brought it back each time, but it was rather jarring to hear all that stomping going on upstairs. The intervals gradually got closer and closer together, and soon we had to start rapping the TV smartly on the side or top. Still, Bill didn't say a word about buying a new TV.
I started thinking about how compliant he had been with the budget--my idea, by the way--and how he'd never once gone over, though he does occasionally mix some of the envelopes together, which drives me nuts. Then I started thinking about all the sales going on after Thanksgiving, and how it would be smarter to buy a TV now if we're going to buy one soon anyway.
So one night last week I surprised Bill by casually suggesting that we buy a TV on Black Friday. He immediately launched into hours of research into the different brands, prices, and technologies. This went on for over a week, and then he made his final decision on Thanksgiving evening: a Vizio LCD flat screen. The cheapest price was at Walmart, of course, and he grimaced at the thought of braving the crowds in the chain where people have literally been trampled to death on a Black Friday in the not-too-distant past (not in OUR store, thankfully).
"The sales last all weekend," I said. "You don't necessarily have to go out on Friday."
"We'll see," he said.
He did go out around noon yesterday, hours after the serious shoppers hit the stores. An hour later, I heard the garage door opening as he backed his truck up the driveway. "I think we have a new TV, Allyson!" I said, an unexpected grin stretching across my face.
Bill was smiling too when he walked in from the garage. "What did you get?" I asked eagerly.
"A TV stand," he said.
"You went out on Black Friday to get a TV STAND??"
"Well, it was a good price. And I need to get the TV room organized and move out the old shelves before I can bring in a new TV," he explained.
This made perfect sense, but still.... How could he go without a big-screen TV for this many months and then come back with just a TV stand? I shook my head in wonder. "You are a very unusual man," I said. He just smiled.
He worked on the new setup for hours, clearing out old CDs and DVDs and rearranging the ones he meant to keep, stringing wires, and hanging the speakers that used to sit on the shelves. It reminded me of an expectant mother in the nesting phase, lovingly making a place for her new arrival.
When everything was in place we all sat on the couch admiring his handiwork. "It looks great!" I said. "And doesn't our little TV look snazzy on that big new stand?"
|Bill's Black Friday Find|
He gave me a sidelong glance. "You do realize I'm probably going to sneak out and head to Walmart around midnight?"
"I wouldn't be surprised, Bill."
He didn't make a midnight Walmart run after all (due to his poor, aching back after all that work). But he was up this morning just as the weak morning light began filtering through the heavy curtains. I squinted up at him and strained to see the clock over Allyson, who had crept into our bed in the wee hours of the morning. "What time is it?" I mouthed, gesturing at the clock that was still out of view.
"Seven forty-five," he replied without making a sound. He held his arms out in front of him and pantomimed turning a giant steering wheel. "I'm going to the store."
A knowing smile pulled at my lips. He was like a kid on Christmas morning! I traced a large rectangle with my hands. "You're getting the TV?" I mouthed. He grinned sheepishly and waved on his way out the bedroom door.
Three hours later, after visiting two Walmart stores, he returned with the Vizio. I have to admit it looked pretty darn good on our Black Friday TV stand. Can you guess what we watched first? Allyson's "Noggin" preschool channel, of course! Wow, Dora and Swiper look awesome in high definition.
When Allyson had moved on to other things, and Bill was contentedly adjusting all the settings while watching a football game, I said, "Are you happy, husband?"
He nodded and gave me a quick peck on the lips. "Happy early Christmas," I said. And it did feel like Christmas.
One More Bill Story
Last night Bill and I spent a half hour finishing the latest chapter in the marriage study that we're doing with our home group from church. We snuggled on the couch and answered questions about how well he makes me feel loved and how well I make him feel respected. For him, it probably ranked right up there with getting his teeth cleaned, but it made me feel very loved (ka-ching!) to know that he would do the study with me.
The last question asked us to evaluate the current state of our marriage. I answered first. "It's good," I said, and we both laughed at the unaccustomed brevity of my answer.
" 'sgood," he echoed, mimicking Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty.
"But what do you think about our marriage?" I pressed.
"It's better than I could have imagined," he said with a cocky grin and a tongue-in-cheek tone.
I pursed my lips and lowered my brows in mock disapproval.
He went on in a very serious tone. "I love you. I've always loved you. I always will love you."
My heart begin to pitter-patter. "Oh, Bill..." Then I saw that he was chuckling.
"Braveheart," he said, and I stared at him blankly. "It's a line from Mel Gibson in Braveheart."
"Say it again," I demanded. "I don't care where it came from."
"It would be better in a thick Scottish brogue," he protested.
"Just say it."
He looked in my eyes. "I love you. I've always loved you. I always will love you."
I kissed him, wincing when his bristly chin scratched my lips.
"I'm writing this down in the study book," I said.
"Of course you are."
"And I'm going to read it out loud at the home group meeting."
He rolled his eyes. I'll let you know how that goes.