The art fair wound down and customers drifted towards the generous tasting counter at North Folk Winery. It was, after all, â€œcocktail-thirty,â€ as my friend Janice says.
Nearby, music wafted from a tent shading a potpourri of musicians and hip-shaking guests. It had been a sunny day, a good day, but it was time to put away our scarves, photography, and jewelry. It was time for us art gypsies to head home.
Funny thing, though. After a summer of setting up and taking down, my husband and I still have not conquered the dance of harmony. Such is the mystery of marriage. Â Such is the mystery of male/female choreography.
For instance, our tent collapses inward with a scissored matrix of aluminum â€œxâ€™s.â€ Â In theory,Â a minimal amount of effort becomes a rather compact column of engineered thoughtfulness. Â And yet, for some reason, my husband insisted it wouldnâ€™t matter if he was inside the frame as we took it down. OF COURSE it mattered.
As he pushed inward from the center, and I pushed inward from the outside, he rather quickly became stuck. Stuck as in he couldnâ€™t get out, stuck. Â Stuck as in “I’m wearing a tent as a speedo,” stuck.
I tried to walk backwards to release him, but with his infamous impatience he kept trying to escape through tiny diamond openings of metal. He doesn’t bend that way, and the metal sure wasnâ€™t giving.
I implored him to wait a freak’n second as I wrestled with tent legs that suddenly seem arthritic. Â Eventually he had enough space to get out. I gave him â€œthe look,â€ and he ignored me with the practiced skill of aÂ gold medal winner inÂ Olympic-level husbandry.
A few moments later he grumbled about my request to keep the canopy on the tent frame as we attempted to put the whole of it into its case. â€œIt wonâ€™t fit,â€ he said.
â€œThe case is designed to hold the tent. Â We got it in before, so I donâ€™t know why we canâ€™t get it in now,â€ I said.
We stared at each other for a while. I stared harder, and way longer. Â With a heavy sigh he said, â€œAt least take the tent sides out of the side pocket of the case. Itâ€™ll give us more room.â€ I wasnâ€™t sure why, since the case was designed to hold the tent and the sides, but I had to wife-compromise somewhere. I removed the sides.
My husband grabbed the case with manly gusto and tried to stuff the tent into the opening. It wasnâ€™t happening, so I attempted to help. He was on one side, and I on the other. He pulled the case towards him, and I pulled the case towards me. Repeat. Repeat. The tent remained unsheathed.
Janiceâ€™s husband wandered over to assist. Heâ€™s wonderfully tall and suggested that it might help if he held the case upright so it wasn’t flopping over like a stocking cap from the 1960â€™s. Nice, but it still wouldnâ€™t go in the zippered opening.
â€œMaybe you are trying to put it in the wrong end?â€ Janiceâ€™s husband said.
â€œNo! This is the right end, â€œ my husband insisted. â€œIt must be the bulk of the canopy thatâ€™s the problem.â€ He slid his eyes towards me, and I felt the barb.
â€œIt fit before!â€
We continued our you-pull, I pull, get nowhere, process.
Janiceâ€™s husband once again said, â€œI think youâ€™re trying to put it in the wrong end.â€
Exasperated, my husband and I stepped backâ€¦ our war of wills put temporarily on hold.
It was then we realized he had been trying to put an entire tent into the side pocket of the case. He had been trying to put it in the wrong end, so to speak.
As we drove home I burst into giggles. â€œHow long do you think you would have kept trying to put the tent into the side pocket?â€
My husband cracked up too. â€œLong enough to prove you wrong!â€ We held hands and smirked.