Pressing a Point

So I did get Mike to sit down and watch a “Grace and Frankie” episode with me. Two, actually.

And technically speaking he lay down.

You see, Mike has a bad back right now. Excruciating. He gets these from time to time, and it sucks. Having tried many cures with no success, he’s convinced that the only thing that actually has some palliative effect is to iron the sore part. As in, yes, like a shirt. Without the sprinkling first, of course. Don’t worry–it’s not as awful as it sounds. You do it over a doubled-up towel, so the heat is only mildly excruciating.

But of course, a man can’t iron himself. That’s where, in this instance, I came in. Mike asked me to do it for him–for an hour. That, apparently, is the amount of time required for this medieval technique to work.

“We could start after dinner…” he suggested.

“Sure,” I agreed. Then I had a thought. A rather opportunistic one. “But I was planning a ‘Grace and Frankie’ binge for exactly that time. It’s the final two episodes. You’ll have to watch them with me while I do it.”

Mike made a rictus grin. “Okey dokey.”

It was clear he wasn’t thrilled. But he really had no choice. Supper over, he lay down on the floor. It was awkward to find a way to see the TV, so he wedged his legs under the coffee table, propping his head on a couch pillow. I plugged in the iron and knelt next to his back.

“What setting should I put it on?” I had no idea if he qualified as linen,  synthetic, or wool.

“Start low and work your way higher,” he suggested, groaning as he adjusted his unnaturally crooked neck. “Slowly, please.”

So I did. It turned out the wool setting worked best. Having figured that out, I ironed him the whole time we watched the two episodes. They weren’t the best I’ve seen, but this was to be expected. There’s a cosmic law that says that whenever I get Mike to watch a show with me–especially one he’s skeptical about–it will be worse by many powers of ten than any episode I’ve watched by myself. His palpable doubt actually seems to torque the narrative arc.

“I swear,” I’ll find myself saying, “it’s usually better than this.”

To which he responds, “Of course it is.”

But he was pretty nice about “Grace and Frankie.” Maybe because I had a scalding metal plate against his scapula. Whatever the case, he even chuckled a couple of times, and only turned his head away completely in the last ten minutes or so.

“It’s just…my neck,” he explained, wincing painfully.

“I get it,” I said, working the iron into his shoulder blade. “I know it’s not personal.”

After the shows were over and the iron was unplugged he stood up stiffly, thanked me for my efforts, and folded himself up on the couch.

“Isn’t it a great show?” I asked.

“What? Oh, yes. Definitely.”

He qualified the statement a bit after that, but not terribly. Who knows–maybe his aches and pains just removed his will to fight.

Or maybe he realized he was wrong, but was too proud to admit it.

There’s a setting for that, too.

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