The Junction
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The Junction

Conversation with My Wife (203)

I’m sorry, you want to borrow my what?

photo by author

I look over and see Deb scanning around where we’re sitting on our porch. Whatever it is, she isn’t finding it. She looks at me.

DEB: Can I borrow your — never mind, I can go get something.

ME: No no, what do you need?

DEB: Can I borrow your handkerchief? I just need to get some schmutz off my glasses.

ME: (after no more than a millisecond of hesitation — okay, maybe several dozen milliseconds, whatever) Sure!

And I reach into my back pocket and give her, my beloved wife of more than two decades, my handkerchief. Happily. Willingly. And, while she wipes whatever-it-is off her glasses, I do not watch her obsessively to make sure she doesn’t mess up the handkerchief.

This has not always been the case.

I started carrying a handkerchief with me as a kid, irregularly at first, but by the time I was in the Navy it was part of my standard right-back-pocket equipment. When you wear glasses, having something handy to clean them is always useful. Comforting, even. Dust, sea spray, cat snot, sweat, rain, whatever — a hearty breath, some vigorous rubbing, and I am returned to full sight.

I’ve had some in use for so many years that they hardly need refolding when removed from the dryer; when dropped onto the clean laundry pile correctly they almost always return to their flat, compact state, creases intact.

I rotate the duty cloth into the wash every couple weeks or so, and it’s all good. They don’t get all that dirty from just cleaning glasses, after all.

Or they didn’t until I started hanging out with women.

I have had requests for my hanky for runny noses; for bloody noses; for wiping up spills; for tending to children (nieces, nephews, and the occasional young person who should not, in my humble opinion, have been any part of our responsibility, or at least not to the point of sacrificing one of MY handkerchiefs); and, of course, the occasional feminine tears. Deb, who respects her husband’s neuroses (mostly) doesn’t ask for it very often any more, but earlier women in my life were less deferential. Including a former spouse who, seriously, could have carried her own instead of treating mine like the output of a tissue dispenser.

Yes, they wash, I AM WELL AWARE, but you are missing the point! I carry them to clean my glasses.

And I still haven’t resolved what to do with a wad of soggy, sodden cotton cloth after it has been returned to me.

A nod to Roz Warren for suggesting this, based on a quirk I share with one of my characters in my Nerd Romance series.

Copyright ©2021 by Jack Herlocker, but I’ll let you have the rights in return for a new pack of white cotton handkerchiefs.




The Junction is a digital crossroads devoted to stories, culture, and ideas. Our interests are legion.

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Jack Herlocker

Jack Herlocker

Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.

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