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So Then Pam Wakes Up and Bobby’s in the Shower, Acting Like Nothing Happened, by Emily Koon

A few months ago, I started taping things off TV, just in case I’m ever hit by a bus and both my legs are broken and I need something to do all day. Right now, it’s Dallas. It comes on the rerun channel, two or three episodes a day, so I’m making pretty good progress.

Sunday is just thrilled. In college, she would have encouraged this kind of waste, the tapes stacking up in the living room, forming a stockade around the couch. We’d have lined them up like dominoes just to follow them around the house as they collapsed on each other, just to hear that nice clacking sound. These days, she cites the mess something will involve. She sits at the kitchen table, grading composition papers into the small hours most nights. I can hear her in there talking to herself, doling out judgment to the not-up-to-snuff. The kids aren’t applying themselves, aren’t buckling down. For all I know, she’s talking about me.

Taping a TV series is a tricky business. Sometimes I’ll forget to unpause the tape after a commercial, and the story will roll on without me, affairs, illegitimate children, hostile takeovers making TV history all over again while I’m nuking a Hot Pocket. Some episodes are a minefield of plot holes, like most of Season Three, Sunday likes pointing out. I never said it would all be perfect.

Today, she comes home from work with one of those fancy DVD player things under her arm and a bag of discs. Dallas, Knots Landing, the works. She suggests I give it a try. I throw Falcon Crest at her. She hauls off and slaps me like she’s Sue Ellen Ewing, and then her face changes and she looks like she looks when she’s about to cry, like a few years ago when we had that close call and I said it was all for the best because the timing was off (look at our life, that apartment with the schizophrenic living next door, thinking the Rapture was happening) and she said she felt that way, too, but I wasn’t sure. 

My face stings. I sting on the inside a little bit, too. She says maybe I could start looking for a job again and then maybe she’d have a chance at having a baby someday. She doesn’t want to be a single mom, go to one of those clinics. She’s not sure she could do it on her own. I tell her I think she’d be just great.