Marvin, Inveterate Schlepper, Turns Helper

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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Marvin, an inveterate schlepper since birth, is a man who has never done anything he didn't have to do. One day, however, much to the delight of his wife, Miriam, he suddenly became remarkably useful around the house.

Miriam noticed the difference and she couldn't believe his sudden burst of activity. But she was afraid to say anything since Marvin didn't suffer compliments gladly. Yet she felt she must say something to this new man in her marriage after all those decades of lethargic years.

After all, Marvin was now a whirlwind, morning and night, making wonderful meals, doing the dishes and laundry, vacuuming carpets, performing with grace and without complaint all the household tasks Miriam had done without help for more than 40 years.

Marvin even walked Chelsea, her ancient Shih Tzu, three times a day. Chelsea used to dive under the bed when Marvin came home from work. Over time, the dog got used to him after he retired. In the parlor at night it was hard to tell which one was snoring.

One recent evening, after another sumptuous dinner and elegant desert that Julia Child would have loved, Miriam decided to compliment Marvin on his cooking while he was loading the dishwasher. He was putting the dishes in carefully, one at a time, so as not to break her best china.

"Marvin, I'm astounded at all that you are doing around the house. I'm so appreciative. I thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Marvin scratched his head and kept loading the dishwasher. Finally he cleared his throat and said,

"Miriam, my sudden energy is a temporary thing. If you hadn't had that car accident, I wouldn't be doing any of this. But somebody has to do it until you get your new legs. Once you're back on your feet, I'm going back to my recliner for the rest of my life. Except for bathroom breaks. And I don't want to be disturbed."

Miriam smiled. She was pleased to know that once her new prostheses had arrived she would get her old Marvin back, the same churl she had always loved beyond belief. She wanted to please him again.

"I'm sorry, Marvin, that my first set of legs had one shorter than the other," said Miriam, almost in tears. "I didn't mind limping but I could tell you were upset."

Marvin told her not to worry, still being careful with the dishes.

"Your new legs should be here in time for the holidays. You can roast the turkey. Feel free to wake me when it's ready. I can't wait for things to get back to normal. All this commotion is nerve-wracking."

Now Miriam knew for certain her old Marvin had never left. He was just doing his best to be nice, something he hadn't done since they were courting after World War II. He even knelt down in the snow to propose, with her ring in his hand. It is a day Miriam will never forget and Marvin, quite likely, will never remember.

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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
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