Knots to You




"You were a Boy Scout," Darling Wife said.

"Yes, I was." She knew that before we were ever married. "That was 50 years ago," I said. She had something up her sleeve or under her collar or behind her back. She was up to something.

"And you learned some Boy Scout skills, didn't you?"

Now I was more than suspicious. She definitely wanted something. "I learned how to freeze while camping out in the snow with only a couple of blankets sewn together by my mother because we couldn't afford a sleeping bag. That was all I learned," I said. I was waiting.

"But you learned how to tie knots?"

"I never was any good at tying knots," I said. I wasn't going to fall for one of her tricks. I didn't know where she was going, but no doubt it involved me.

"But you could always untie knots," she said.

"They didn't give merit badges for untying knots," I said. I wasn't admitting to any skill that might later involve work.

"Well," she began. It was beginning.

"Well," I mimicked.

"Well, you know the ten yard piece of fabric I bought yesterday for the quilt for our darling granddaughter?"

"Which ten yards? You bought ten yards of two kinds of fabric." I watched her carefully for any trick moves.

"Both ten yards. I just washed them and dried them."

"You want me to fold the fabric now?" She had given me that job one night long before when I was exhausted after driving 150 miles to a quilt shop and she needed, "just a little favor."

"Well," she began. She hesitated and gave me her "Look Number 17," the one that says, "You're so sweet to want to help."

"You want more from me than just folding twenty yards of hot fabric right out of the drier, don't you?" Of course there was more.

"You are good at untying knots," she said.

"I think right now I might be better off untying that knot we tied 38 years ago."

"And you're stronger than I am."

"That doesn't take much and that doesn't mean much," I said. I knew I was too far gone already, having continued this conversation too long when I should have run when she said, "Boy Scout."

"It's in the cutting room," she said. She made a face of helplessness and pointed me the way.

What was in the cutting room, her old office where she had taught reading for many years before retirement, was twenty yards of fabric. Two pieces each ten yards long. Washed and dried and hot and tied together. Somehow, perhaps under the guidance of a devil, the two pieces of fabric had braided together, the way those impossibly thin strings from wind chimes get forever entwined after the mildest breeze. The fabric was tangled, entangled, twisted, roped together, and there was no way in any way that I could see how to untangle them.

"How did you do this?" I hollered into the kitchen.

"A demon did it," she said.

"I would like to twist that demon's neck," I said, and I looked at the fabric in front of me and knew exactly how I would do that. The fabric, one piece printed with tiny blue rabbits, the other a garden of tiny flowers, both destined to be part of a quilt for our granddaughter's sixth birthday present, that fabric might never see the light of day again.

I tugged, I twisted, I untangled, I grunted, I turned and bent and spun around, and the fabric laughed at me. The two pieces were lovers, forever bound together by some magical spell.

"How's it coming," SHE asked from the kitchen.

"It'scomingfineIalmosthaveit," I managed to get out, but somehow my words were now tied together as well. I looked at the fabric. I glared at it. I glowered. I spit into my hands and wrung them together and attacked, twisting, turning, churning, flipping, tossing, reversing, turning left and turning right. Twice I braided myself into the fabric. But I was making progress. Hadn't I once a long time before taken some Boy Scout oath to do my best to God, Country and, some day, a quilting wife?

Half an hour later I had no muscles left in my body. My arms ached, my hands twitched, my fingers no longer existed. My shoulders were somewhere, but I had no idea where. I sat on the floor, my back pressed against the wall to keep my spine from cracking any further. But...but the fabric was separated and folded. "Ha!" I said to the vanquished 100 percent cotton.

"Honey, you finished yet," She called from the kitchen.

"Finished? Finished?" Oh, yes, I was finished.

"Good. I'm ready to wash the rest of the fabric."

"There's more?" I asked in a whisper. I needed no answer. With a wife who quilts, there's always more. But this time, I was going to insist that she cut all the fabric into four-inch squares before she washed. Maybe two-inch squares. One inch?

Copyright A.B. Silver 1998

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