by Jay Wexler
I like to play a game called "deathbed" with my wife. In this game, I lay on my bed and pretend that I'm about to die. My wife sits at my side, and I tell her all the things I think I would want to say to her if I were really on my deathbed. For example, I say things like, "I have always loved you," or "without you I would have died long ago," or "please don't forget about me." I like to play this game because it makes me think about how much I love my wife and how happy my life has been. We're in our mid-thirties, and we're childless, so sometimes I feel it is important to think of things like this. Occasionally, I lose myself so deeply in this game that I get really sad and cry a little.
My wife, however, thinks this game sucks. In her view, only someone with shit in his head would play a game called "deathbed."
So, for example, here's how a typical game of deathbed might go at our place:
ME [lying in bed, whispering almost inaudibly]: My love, the time is near.
WIFE [looking up from her Scientific American]: Oh, crap. Not this again.
ME: My throat is so dry. May I have an ice chip, my love?
WIFE [returning to her article]: I'm busy.
ME: I remember the first time I met you. [coughing, sputtering] You were the most beautiful thing I had ever [coughing] seen. You are as lovely now as you were on that [wheezing] day.
WIFE: [reads quietly]
ME: Can I get that ice chip now?
WIFE [flipping pages]: Looks like they've figured out how to breed a non-allergic peanut.
ME: I have cherished you for all of my days.
WIFE: [reads quietly]
ME [somewhat more loudly, not so much like a dying person]: I said that I have cherished you for all of my days.
WIFE: [lowers magazine; places head in hands; shakes head in disbelief]
ME [sitting up]: I SAID I CHERISH YOU!
WIFE: [picks up magazine; smacks dying man with magazine repeatedly on the head]
ME [ducking]: Nurse? Help. I think I wet myself.
ME [stammering]: I have cherished you for all of my days.
WIFE: [sighs] When did the doctor say you were going to die again?
ME: I have never regretted a single moment that we spent together.
WIFE [checking her nails]: Would you mind if I gave you a pauper's grave so I can spend an extra week in Maui after you [making air quotes with her fingers] pass on?
ME: I wouldn't have traded our time together for anything in the world.
WIFE: Could you hold on a minute? The hospice orderly has arrived, and he's looking fine.
ME: [coughs, wheezes]
WIFE: Oh, hospice orderly. You are so naughty, hospice orderly. Do you think that here's a good pla . . . ahh, hee, hee. I'm ticklish there.
ME [crying]: No, no. Please, no. I love you.
WIFE: Oh, hospice orderly. Oh yes. I think I need a big injection, hospice orderly, and stat.
ME: Darling. Please. You're making me feel bad.
WIFE: Both sides, hospice orderly. Both sides is the way to go.
ME [whimpering; also a little confused]: You're hurting my feelings.
WIFE: Oh, hospice orderly. Yes, hospice orderly!
ME [suddenly sitting up; breaking out of character and back into normal self]: Hey, Sally, what's that noise? It sounds like something clicking. It's really loud. Do you hear it?
WIFE: What? Huh? I don't hear anything. I don't hear anything clicking. What are you talking about?
ME [lying back down]: Oh, nothing. It's just the sound of your biological clock ticking. Never mind. Nothing to worry about.
WIFE: [smacks husband repeatedly with magazine]
About the author:
Jay Wexler lives with his wife in Boston, where they either are or are not expecting their first child next March.