This week, Preppy’s in Washington, D.C., for a little work/play combo that will include “seeing Obama’s house, Lincoln, and the pointy thing.” It’s his first trip to our nation’s capital.

I’m there next month. He’s off to New York after that, where I was in early February. It’s as though we booked fun things to do together, but neglected to confirm any of the dates.

Each time Preppy goes out of town, I quickly amass damning evidence of the hoarder I would become if he went away forever. For some reason, being married is the only thing that seems to remind me that we own a trash can,.

If he’s gone for three days, I clean up on day three. If he’s gone for 10 days, I clean up on day 10. Funny discovery: If I leave an empty celery bag and a depleted hummus container on the kitchen counter, they multiply independently of my influence.

There’s an expectation that, with the husband away, one might be tempted to be naughty. And oh boy, I am. I have what I call the Scary Bachelor Meat Party.

Preppy is a vegetarian, so when he’s gone, our kitchen turns into a butcher shop. Steak, bags of pepperoni, bacon… once, I sat and picked apart an entire Publix rotisserie chicken on the sofa with my bare hands, like a “Walking Dead” zombie or Jodie Foster in “Nell.”

So I take my meat, and then I queue up some scary movies. Preppy hates ‘em. So when I’ve got the house to myself, we’re talking wall-to-wall screaming teenagers being chased by men with chainsaws. I stay up way too late and have a right fine time, eating bacon and watching people in peril. That’s how I spent tonight, and then I went to bed.

And then I heard a noise. It was just a little noise. It could have been the wind, or maybe a mouse. Or a person, standing in my kitchen, moving carefully so that they could sneak up on me and murder me because they want my TV or they heard I wrote “Angry Fags” and they want to hate crime me in my bed, or maybe they ride a bicycle and they found out I’m friends with Melissa Carter.

“Daisy. Go see what that is! Go!” I whispered, urgently, to the dog at the foot of my bed. She raised her head slightly, then let out a disapproving grunt and went back to sleep. I hated her so hard in that moment.

I laid there, for either two minutes or six hours, unmoving, waiting for the sound again. Nothing. Then I leapt out of bed, locked the bedroom door, grabbed my phone, and put on underpants and a t-shirt in case there were news cameras or police officers in my future. Still, no sound other than the snoring dog.

It’s easy to take moments for granted, like the comfort of another human next to you. Someone who can reassure you it was just the wind. And that maybe you shouldn’t stay up ‘til three in the morning eating a side of beef while watching horror movies.


Topher Payne is an Atlanta-based playwright, and the author of the book “Necessary Luxuries: Notes on a Semi-Fabulous Life.” Find out more at

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