ICS Magazine

There Is a Spot In My Carpet

March 8, 2005
I've developed a new quirk in the last year or two. I don't know when it started, exactly, but it involves neither sleepless nights nor court-ordered therapy. At least not yet.

I look at floors. It doesn't matter if it's a dinner party at an acquaintance's home or NFL Kickoff Sunday with the guys at the sports bar. I walk in, I look down. The cut-back run giving up visual market share to the cut-pile carpet? Working on ICS is a strange exercise in osmosis.

There is a spot in my carpet. I saw it this morning before I got my coffee. I don't know how it got there. I'm pretty sure it wasn't there yesterday, so I point it out to my wife.

"What's this?" I ask.

"Looks like a spot," she said, never breaking stride.

I first saw it on my way to the kitchen. It's a brownish bit of a thing, about the size and shape of a quarter. It's a good 3 feet from the edge of the dining room table, out of the usual traffic lanes and not anywhere near where a plant stand, chair or other piece of furniture might have protected it from earlier discovery.

"Do you know how it got there?" I ask.

"By accident?" The battle of wits was won long ago. I just can't quite bring myself to accept it.

Probably a spilled drink, that's what I think. Someone was walking around the far side of the table toward the kitchen with a glass in hand. They bang into one of the chairs, move back quickly and a large drop of whatever concoction they're imbibing takes flight, plummeting downward at a sharp angle until finally coming to rest on the wheat-colored field running through the dining room.

"Were you drinking anything in here yesterday?" I call out.

"Water," she replies from the kitchen.

"Did you spill any?"

One of the great jokes of the universe is how the mind recognizes when something truly asinine is about to emerge from the mouth, yet does nothing to stop it.

Slowly, her head appears from the kitchen. Annoyance and pity make for a great expression. "Yes, I spilled my cup of muddy-brown water," she said. "And instead of cleaning it up, I went outside to get a refill before it stopped raining."

"I meant...," I start to reply, but she's already disappeared back around the doorway.

I start walking toward the kitchen...and bump my cup into the chair. A dollop of coffee launches up and out of the mug, rising slightly before hurling downward, splashing into the carpet a scant two inches from its older, almost identical sibling.

Her head comes back around the corner. "Did you say something?" she asks.

And it's not even Monday.