The house of (few) secrets

Aug. 02, 2013 @ 05:50 PM

I’m sociable when I have to be. But, by and large, I wouldn’t call myself a terribly social person.

In fact, I confess, I’m just this side of a hermit.

My wife Catherine, on the other hand, thrives on opportunities to socialize. She’s the gregarious one. She enjoys hosting special holiday parties in our house and inviting dozens of friends to attend.

Before the baby, I could expect a couple of these gatherings during the year. They came and went, like hurricanes blowing through my social radar.

I survived, despite the anxiety I sometimes felt, and over time I found myself having fun – mostly because I embraced the festivities secure in the knowledge that this too would pass.

The rest of the year, I could count on privacy and relative seclusion.

That all changed in June, after John Michael came into our lives.

Our home is now a popular destination for friends and family who want to stop by, make sure we’re doing well and to see our beautiful son.

In the weeks since this started, I’ve grown to appreciate the visits. I spend a lot of time with a little boy who communicates through crying and mostly indecipherable hand gestures and head jerks, so fresh encounters with people who speak my language are quite welcome.

Nevertheless, I bristled like the porcupine I can sometimes be during those first few days of hyper-socialization. I smiled my way through it and behaved pleasantly enough, because my parents didn’t raise me to be a jerk. Plus, I genuinely like our visitors.

I even tried to be polite to strangers who knocked on the door, despite my frustration.

In retrospect, though, I guess I feel a little guilty about the nice lady from Aflac.

Catherine and I got married on March 9, just a couple of months before we adopted our son. She wanted to add me to her Aflac policy and scheduled an appointment for early afternoon during the week. I was due at work around 1:30 p.m.

That day, Catherine’s mom Athena showed up, unexpected. My dog Huck loves to keep her company. I helped her get settled in a chair in the bedroom where John Michael slept and then switched the television on to CNN for her.

A short while later, the Aflac agent was on the front stoop, knocking on the door.

Catherine was running late. I walked through the kitchen on my way to answer the door, the dog on his leash tagging along beside me. Through the baby monitor on the counter next to the sink, I could hear Athena speaking Greek to John Michael. “Agapi mou,” she repeated. It means “my love.”

I told the agent that Catherine should be home soon and showed her to the dining room table, adjacent to the kitchen. I was exceedingly polite.

“I’m really sorry to intrude,” she said.

I smiled. “Don’t worry about it.” Inside, of course, I grated about the fact that I was supposed to be on my way to work by now. “I’ll be right back,” I told her. “I need to leave the dog with my mother-in-law.”

As I handed off the dog to Athena, I crossed my arms and looked at the TV, muttering: “I really didn’t want to have to deal with this insurance business. I was supposed to be at work by now.”

I closed the door so Huck couldn’t follow me, then walked back through the kitchen to the dining room, where I found the agent matter-of-factly switching on her laptop.

“I won’t take up much of your time,” she insisted. “I can just take down a little basic information from you and we’ll be done.”

My eyebrows twitched. “Oh?”

Behind me, I heard Athena over the baby monitor again: “Agapi mou. Agapi mou.”

Oh.

The ears in the walls had ratted me out. It felt oddly liberating.

 

Wes Platt can be reached at 919-419-6684 or by email at wplatt@heraldsun.com. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt and connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.