Spotlight. The word Wifey meant to say was “spotlight.” It’s not a spotlight really; it’s just a little stem light that clips to my book when I want to read in bed at night, but she calls it a spotlight. And what she said wasn’t a Freudian slip... no sexual content... just one of those happy malaprops the English language generates from time to time... out of nowhere. What she said was this: “Your damn spiteload... I mean spotlight... kept me awake all night!” She
corrected herself, but there it was nevertheless: spiteload. An English word clearly, but one never spoken before in
the whole history of English probably. And yet you knew right away it ought to be a word... ought to be added to the lexicon at once because it’s such a perfect description of... of what? Of those occasional moments in married life that fall a micron or two short of marital bliss. As, for example say, in the following exchange:
She: Will you please put down that newspaper and take out the garbage. Do I
have to do everything around here?
He: Was that a spiteload, Dear?
She: A what? Is that even a word? What does that word even mean?
He: Well, I’m not sure. It’s your word, Dear. You invented it.
She: Yes, and you thought it was so clever when you used it the first time, but
now it’s just rather... tedious, don’t you think?... and obnoxious.
He: Was that a spiteload?
She: ...and childish!
She: OH, GROW UP!!
She: [Prolonged silence]
He: Say, Dear, I read an interesting thing in the paper this morning. Would you
care to hear?
He: No, really, you’d be interested in this. It’s just short. Shall I read it to you?
He: OK, I’ll read it, OK?
He: OK, it says here... no wait... Oh, it’s Miss Manners, Dear... it’s in the Miss
Manners column. She says... one thing women may not quite understand is
that... for men... the silent treatment isn’t really a punishment. I don’t know,
is that anything, Dear? Is she onto anything there?... Do you think?...Dear?
He: [To himself] Spiteload.