Mr. Fresh has been overwrought all week. He's been working feverishly on a demanding project, hastily planned, on which the company's future seems to depend. The June 30 deadline is tight, and we have a houseguest showing up immediately afterward.
Like me, Mr. Fresh can get a little intense. Unlike me, he’s dedicated to his job (he works from home). Every morning he gets up at 6:30, works a bit, does that day’s part of his extensive weekly workout plan, and works until 10 or 11 p.m., pausing only when nature calls. He’s been a ghost at dinner and I’ve tried to expect little from him around the house. Tense, with a bad stomach, he’s had trouble with sleep lately. Every minute has been occupied with the project and his doubts about the future of the economy, the company, the product he works on, and his career.
On Saturday he realized what he was making was rather brilliant; he had figured out some steps that make the product really innovative and useful, beyond the original outline. So, let's ramp up both excitement and pressure. I support him and try here and there to provide fun or perspective (we’re working on “not globalizing”), but mostly I’ve left him alone just as I would if two kids were fighting over a toy.
On Saturday he reminded me of a household chore I’ve committed to doing before June 30. “Yup, it’s on my list,” I figure 8 days is plenty of time for putting away a few dozen pieces of junk.
On Sunday I tried to get him out for a Father’s Day dinner but he was too tense to be social. He could barely look at our little girl. After a beer he was able to pick at the platter we were sharing but couldn’t get his head together enough to choose from the menu of his current favorite restaurant.
I'm not willing to let him "kill himself" by working, to me it seemed he'd turned a corner where that seemed possible. I resolved to talk to him later, at a quiet time.
The evening settled down to grown-up bedtime. Mr. Fresh announced with pride that he had just finished the last component. I was pretty surprised. I’d barely followed his updates all week, since I don’t really have the tools to “get” what he does. “Remind me again when John arrives?”
“This coming Tuesday?” I started to put things together.
“Yes. Two days from tonight... and I just have these things left to do...”
“Hang on a sec. Did you think this is the last week in June?”
“What do you mean ‘did I think?’”
But I did not want to shatter his world, at least, not without being sure; we both believe in playing by the numbers. I went down to the calendar. That day, Sunday, was Father’s Day, and signs taunting “Father’s Day is June 21st” had seemed omnipresent for weeks. I made sure the calendar was on the right month as I checked off the little boxes three times, counting forward from our last weekend away (last weekend, at his parents’, a trip that had been planned early) and backward from July 4.
There was no doubt… he’d left out an entire week. I held my iPod up to him so he could see today’s date from an objective source.
I can’t remember the last time I laughed like that. I mean, I had to stay up late just to finish laughing.
(To his great credit, he laughed very hard and almost as long.)
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