Our house looked so much better after we planted shrubs to hide the naked and decaying foundation that I suggested we sit in the front yard and admire it.
"What we really need is a gazebo," I told my husband. "We could sit there and relax and picnic in the summer and...." Before I could elaborate on my fantasy of journaling in the little house of sloth, he stared me silent through the crape-myrtle twigs.
"Tell me, how many gazebos have you seen in your lifetime?" he asked.
If I could reconstruct the conversation, I would leave this a rhetorical question. Unfortunately, I opened my mouth.
"And how many people have you seen sitting in a gazebo?" he asked. Once again, I fell into his trap.
"Well, not many," I admitted. "But that's because I always pass at the wrong time of day. It's never gazebo-sitting time or good weather when I drive by."
He gave me that superior smile. The one he wore when he successfully replaced the neutral safety switch in the old van. The "but you can't fool all the people all the time" look.
"Let me tell you a little secret," he said. "You never see a gazebo-sitter because there aren't any. The lumber industry and Victorian-whatsit magazine just want you to think the world is full of people sitting in fancy-schmancy oversized bird cages. Count the wasted 2-by-4s in those things, all crisscrossed and latticed up. The only time you see a gazebo-sitter is in a picture in some hifalutin garden or decorating magazine."
He clapped at some gnats and finally squished one. "And when you do see these magazine gazebo-sitters, they aren't working dogs like us. They're wearing white clothes, sipping designer water like little hummingbirds, and reeking of money."
"Oh, people can't help it if they're rich," I told him.
It's just a glamorous image created by the National Cedar Use-Em-Up Board Association, he told me. The message is: Buy a stack of lumber, park your gazebo on a pricey ocean cliff, and enjoy the breezes of youth and prosperity forever.
I shrugged. "Believe me, I had no idea you felt so strongly on the subject," I told him. "I simply thought it'd be fun to sit in one of those little gazebos on a Saturday morning and gaze at the new bushes."
"Sit in the lawn chair," he suggested.
"It's rusty," I said.
"So is the scenery." He pointed to the neighbors' El Camino up on cinder blocks.
I stared at the rest of the scenery, including my wise husband. "By the way, aren't you wearing white?" I gleefully pointed to his T-shirt.
He must have thought it was a rhetorical question, because I'm still waiting for a gazebo.