Rosanne Skopp
Rosanne Skopp

My Man

I chose well.

Not that there were hordes of suitors lining up on Aldine Street waiting for the opportunity to marry me, but I met the guy when I was 17 and that was it. Forever!

But there have been some times when he has doubted me. Not my fidelity, of course, but my facts. The following examples are proof that even he, with the golden hands that can build anything, and the brilliant mind that could survive teaching me college calculus, sometimes suffers from misjudgment, about me. I’ve forgiven him. I guess. You can decide how wronged I’ve been.

Was there a mouse in the house? For several winter months I protested that there was a mouse in the kitchen. He declared, without a doubt in his head, it was mere imagination. If there had been a mouse, someone else would have seen it. One of the four kids. The dog. How smart was this mouse that only I could be aware of his existence? Obviously, very!

And so for weeks and weeks the husband resisted setting up a trap for the sneaky critter. And when I registered a sighting he would tell me I was overtired. I “tzittered,” a Yiddish word for violent trembling in fear, every time I opened the bottom cabinet where the meat pots rested in peace. True, there never were any particles of poop that you normally would see. But I maintained that even mice have unintelligent brethren and Mensa-Mice. We were clearly home to a genius, who either cleaned up after himself or had a secret layaway where he could do his business undetected.

And then our house mouse slipped up and dashed out when the master of the house was getting a middle-of-the-night orange juice. The very next morning out came a sharp, clean new trap, which was generously laden with peanut butter. Our mice always opted for peanut butter if we were serving. That night, well after all the kids and I had gone to bed, my husband stealthily entered the kitchen. There was mouse. Caught.

But, as I’ve indicated, this was no ordinary mouse. This guy had positioned his chubby body, fattened by a winter of delicacies, so that only his tail was caught in the springs of the trap. He himself was very much alive and eager, at last, to find a new home.

My husband, with not a violent bone in his body, looked at the creature and decided what to do with him. He would free him outside at the Pumpkin Patch Creek that gurgled behind our house. He gave the little genius strict instructions that he would not be so merciful next time.
The little guy scampered off, happy that the trap and he had separated and freedom awaited. Maybe he still lives. For sure his progeny are everywhere.

And then there was the time when our daughter became a wandering Jew. This terrifying event occurred at 2 a.m. at #3 Etzel Street in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighborhood. We spent a year of war and peace at that address in a comfortable three-bedroom apartment. Our four kids were between ages 3 and 10. Our dog was deaf and ancient. It was the 10-year-old who gave us the scare.

I was fast asleep, and then I suddenly bolted up in bed like a character in “Fiddler.” It wasn’t the butcher’s wife who had alarmed me. It was the loud closing of the apartment’s front door. It was a bang.

All of my fellow apartment dwellers, including the ancient dog Gringo, slept in total innocence, charmed or alarmed by their dreams. Not I. My heart was pounding, ready to fly out of my chest. Hence, I did what any married woman would do in such a circumstance. I shook the blissfully sleeping partner parent by my side, my husband. Startled, groggy, he yelped at me. Of course. “Get up,” I screamed and check the front door.
It was easier to be compliant, so he wandered from our bedroom to the front door, which he proceeded to lock securely and then returned to bed. Apparently he had also done a kid-count since he resumed to his snoring with these words, “Only one kid is missing. Number one.” I screamed. Maybe screeched is a better word. “What do you mean? Where is she?”

At that very moment, before what could have been a murderous attack on the man I married by his wife, the front doorbell rang. I rushed to the door and there was our neighbor, Mrs. Flegg, from the apartment above us, accompanied by our 10-year-old daughter. Sleepwalking.

Profusely thanking and apologizing to Mrs. Flegg, we went to sleep again. At least they all did. For me sleep was shattered that night. Next morning we put up a lock that could not be reached by a child. There would be no more breakouts.

I note that these events were all middle of the night scenes. There’s certainly heightened drama when the house is dark and quiet and only the gentle sighs and whispers of the shadowy night can be heard. Such was definitely the case our first night back in New Jersey after our Israel sojourn, when the jetlag that joined us on our flight had conked us all out. We had rented out our house and our tenants were now gone and we had reclaimed the house; all of our furniture was intact so we entered, made up the beds, pulled out the ready-to-go nightclothes, and went to sleep.

My husband slept soundly. As, again, did our dog. She was never an amazing watchdog, yelling furiously only if someone rang the doorbell. I used to joke that if someone tried to climb in a window she would continue snoring. How right I was!

It must have been before midnight when I heard the sound that got my instant attention. I knew exactly what it was. It was the screen door in the den being tossed aside. The next step would be intruders in the house. With a burst of pure adrenalin, I turned on the lights, woke the husband, and called the police. All this in a very few seconds.

I looked out the window and saw two men, young and strong enough to leap over the backyard fence and make their escape. Gone but never to be forgotten.

My husband, by now awake, told me it was cats and to go back to sleep.

But the police had been alerted and eventually showed up. They rang the doorbell, and we were treated to a Pavlovian response from Gringo, who immediately started screaming her heart out, showing her true grit to the hapless police officers who came near to spraying her with the toxic chemical reserved for useless 12-year-old mongrels with weak teeth and no desire or talent for any encounter. I rescued our dog and showed the officers the scene of the crime. They retrieved the screen and showed my disbelieving man, aka husband, that the screen had been slashed with a knife, a smooth and straight cut, definitely human in origin. He apologized and returned to bed.

One day I will tell you about more of such events. Hopefully there will be none in the hoped and yearned for blessed new year 5782!

About the Author
Rosanne Skopp is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of fourteen, and great-grandmother of three. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and travels back and forth between homes in New Jersey and Israel. She is currently writing a family history.
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