Tuesday, October 9, 2018

THE HISTORY LESSON: A Shelly Hobbes Story


It was while driving home from work that Warren realized it. Something had been at the back of his mind all day and he hadn’t been able to put his finger on it until now. Quite what it was that shook loose the old memory, we may never know. But halfway between his clinic and his house, Warren remembered what day it was and it was for this reason that he made an unexpected detour. His wife was not the type who was all that interested in flowers, cards, chocolates or jewelry, which meant that Warren had to make slightly more effort than most married men when it came to spontaneous romantic gestures.

“Where have you been?” Shelly asked as she kissed her husband. “You’re usually home by six-thirty and it’s already past seven.”

“I had to stop and pick something up,” said Warren, with the smug, satisfied air of a man who is about to score major points with the woman he loves. Not having had time to wrap the article, he’d had no choice but to conceal it in the old, slightly tattered briefcase he carried with him to work. He drew it out now and handed it to his wife. “It’s nothing, really, but I couldn’t let today pass without doing something.”

“Why not?” asked Shelly, smiling as she looked at the book on beekeeping Warren had brought her. Her longtime idol, Sherlock Holmes, had, in his later years, given up detective work and retired to the country to study bees, so Warren knew that this book would bring a smile to his wife’s face.

“Well, you know…” Warren began. But, the blank expression on Shelly’s face led him to believe that she did not know. “It’s October 9th.”

“Yeah. And?”

“Don’t you remember what today is?”

“Let me see, October 9th…er…well, the Washington Monument was opened to the public on October 9th, 1888.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. But that’s not why you gave me this, is it?”

“No, it’s not.”

“Let’s see, October 9th…Battle of Yorktown,1781?”

“Yes, Shelly, I got you a gift to commemorate the Battle of Yorktown, as is custom among husband and wives.”

Frantically, Shelly started rattling off everything that had ever happened on October 9th. “Henry VI restored to the throne? Harvard begins admitting women? John Lennon was born? Che Guevara died?”

“It’s the day we met!”

There was silence in the room. It had been twenty-five years ago that very day that Warren had, as a small child, stepped into a room in a foster home and met a girl called Shelly. The day he met his best friend. The day he became her Dr. Watson. The day his life began.

“Oh…my god…” said Shelly, looking stunned and ashamed. “Warren, how could I…I can’t believe I would forget that.”

“Well,” began Warren, about to tell her that he had only remembered himself about an hour ago…but then he reflected on how seldom it was that he remembered something when Shelly didn’t, and decided on a slightly less noble path.

“Well,” he began again, “I won’t say I’m not a little disappointed.”

“Oh, Warren, I’m so sorry. I can never forgive myself for forgetting something so important.”

It was at this stage that Warren intended to put his arms around Shelly and magnanimously forgive her for the oversight. But before he had the chance, Shelly seemed to become distraught and ran to the bedroom. Moments later, Warren heard loud sobs coming from that direction.

This was, of course, not at all what he had wanted. He just wanted to enjoy one-upping the Master Detective for once. Hating himself, he ran into the bedroom where he expected to find Shelly prostrate on the bed, crying her eyes out.

Instead, she was sitting, quite happily at the foot of the bed, next to an object Warren had never seen before. It was a brand new briefcase with a large red bow on it. The exact one he had been wanting for months to replace his old one. He walked across the room and picked it up. He looked at it from every angle. Then he flipped it open. Just on the inside, there was a small window of clear plastic where the owner could slip a business card. There was a printed card in this window, but not one of Warren’s. It read:

Of course I remembered what today was, you dope!
Love, Shelly

Warren grinned. He looked at Shelly. She was grinning, too.