“And another thing,” said Madame Descartes, who was in a bad mood.
Monsieur Descartes was reading a book while drinking his morning coffee. It was Saturday and he was trying to concentrate.
“You’ve thrown bird seed all over my garden.”
Monsieur Descartes did not look up. He had heard that complaint before.
“Every year, guess who has to clean that mess up? ME! I don’t want WEEDS growing in my garden.”
“Uh-huh,” she repeated derisively. “You’re going to have to go out there with a Shop-Vac and get rid of all those seeds.”
Monsieur Descartes had thought this would be a quiet morning. He thought perhaps he could have it with her. Normally she went to the village coffee shop and sat with friends, but this morning the ground and roads were covered with sleet and he thought for a change they could sit quietly together. She liked sitting with him in the mornings but very seldom did it.
“You go downstairs and bury yourself in a book!” she had often said before heading off for town.
Now she was complaining about something else, the bird seed.
“I need help around here. I’m too old to be doing all the cleaning by myself. My joints hurt. No other woman I know has a husband who sits around all day scratching on paper and reading. They help with with housework!”
He ignored her.
“Other husbands vacuum, do dishes, help with the bathroom.”
“I know why you married me! You wanted a maid. I’m tired of having to clean the bathroom! You should clean it once in a while. You could live in a pig sty and you wouldn’t care! All men are like that.”
Now she had absolutely destroyed the morning. He looked out the window at the sleet-covered ground and at the few birds who were trying to peck through it to get at the seeds.
“I’m going to hire someone to clean and make you pay for it.”
“All right.” He was not looking at her but at the words in his book, which were not making sense.
“I can’t invite anyone over here because you leave your papers all over. Of course you can have your friends here. They don’t care what the place looks like, Like your friend, the other genius. What’s his name, Marsenne?”
“Yeah. Aaah, papers all over, huh? I had a small pile on the coffee table. Where are they?”
“That Discourse on Blah-Blah?”
“It’s wherever you put it last.”
“I left it on the coffee table.”
“You wouldn’t know where you left it. Half the time you walk around here in a fog.”
“I need those papers.”
“Why?” she demanded. “No one’s going to publish a Discourse on Blah-Blah. You need to get a real job. Part time teaching doesn’t pay the bills.”
For the past five years Monsieur Descartes had been constructing his System of the World, of which his Discourse on Method would be a principle part. He wanted to publish it along with two other works, one of which he called Treatise on Man. The treatise had a lot of physiology in it, and in order to understand his subject, he had brought pig’s hearts, livers, brains, and kidneys home from the butcher shop. He would take them into his basement study to dissect and study them.
But he had to keep getting fresh organs every few days because whenever Madame Descartes came downstairs she went through his study and threw them out.
“I won’t have that disgusting stuff in the house! You do that again and I’m leaving!”
She never did leave, though. And now Monsieur Descartes suspected she had thrown out his Discourse.
“I’m going to town!” she announced, and rose from the couch and went to the living room, put on her coat and stepped outside.
Monsieur Descartes watched her lose balance on the front stoop and grab hold of the door to keep from falling.
“The stoop is total ice!” she yelled as she stepped back inside. “I’m going to have to salt it!”
“Don’t go to town,” he told her, “the roads look bad.”
“I’ll get the salt. Where is it?”
“Where do you think it is? Where do I always keep it?”
“It used to be on the stoop,” he offered.
“It’s in the GARAGE!”
“Ill get it,” he said and walked into the kitchen to the inside garage door and pushed the garage door button. When the door was raised he saw that she was walking around the front of her car. He picked up the bag of salt and walked outside and as he began spreading it over the stoop, Madame Descartes’ car disappeared.
Back inside, Monsieur Descartes decided the dishes needed cleaning.