Carol came downstairs this morning berating me, since she’d slipped on the path of rose petals I’d strewn along the steps to welcome her to the new day. You try to do something nice for someone… To her credit, she quickly got over her pique, stepping into my outstretched arms for a good morning hug. I then noticed she was wearing her pajamas inside-out. While I considered it unlikely that she’d had a romp with someone else while I was sleeping undisturbed (thanks to my earplugs) during the night, I did think it prudent to ask why her clothing was so arranged.

“It’s because my skin is so sensitive — if I sleep with my pj’s right-side out, the inside seams leave marks.” I said that sounded ridiculous, so to prove her point Carol removed her pajama top to show me where she still had marks from not reversing her bedclothes before turning in several nights before. At least, I think that’s what her intention was but I was focused on, shall we say, other desirable parts of her body that were now revealed.

Once I came out of my reverie, I saw reddened creases under her arms and along her sides. I offered a look of concern — briefly — and then, as is my wont, started in with the wisecracks:

  • “If they made corduroy pajamas, you’d wake up looking like a Ruffles potato chip.”
  • “If I’d known you were that sensitive, I wouldn’t have told you how stupid I thought Under the Tuscan Sun was.”
  • “The only other time something left that much of a painful impression on you was when you found out one of your yoga teachers was a Trump supporter.”

I was coming up with some pretty funny zingers… well — I was laughing. Carol calmly went into the kitchen to get herself a cup of coffee while I continued riffing. When she returned, she took a sip from her cup and then said, “At least I don’t have pee stains on the front of my pants when I come out from the bathroom.”

A morning that only moments before had been warmed by mirth now turned icy cold. Carol’s comment had wounded my soul, and I quickly ran through the Five Stages of Grief it had caused me:

  • Denial — “I do not come out of the bathroom with pee stains on the front of my pants!”
  • Anger — “I can’t believe you would make fun of my incontinence issues.”
  • Bargaining — “If you’ll lay off the insults, I’ll go to another one of those idiotic ‘mindfulness’ seminars with you, OK?”
  • Depression — “You have no idea how much I’m on edge every time I exit a public washroom.”
  • Acceptance — “I guess I could think about trying some ‘adult’ underwear…”

As I started to come out of my funk, I noticed Carol was snickering. “What’s so amusing?” I asked. She finished sipping from her cup before responding, “Look who’s sensitive now! I guess I’m not the only one with ‘thin skin’ around here.”

After a few moments of contemplation, I forced a smile and said fair was fair — I’d landed the first blow, and she had only counter-punched in return. I apologized for my insensitive response to her dermatologic dismay, offering to make amends by going upstairs to strip the bed and remake it with fresh sheets while she relaxed over the rest of her coffee. She said that was very nice of me, taking a seat at the dining room table while I sprinted up to the bedroom to complete my penance.

It will be interesting tomorrow morning to see what her skin looks like after spending a night sleeping on luxurious, 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets — under which, on her side of the mattress, I slid a piece of corrugated cardboard. Rest well, Your Highness!