Descending the staircase long after Mr. Henry and his noble hound Pepper have risen, like a Prius on a downhill glide Mrs. Henry gains momentum silently. By the time the kitchen floorboards meet her little feet, she is captain in command of the bridge, issuing morning orders, sharp and firm.
Should Mr. Henry have neglected to water a plant or deposit a check, taking as examples two recently cited violations, Mrs. Henry may be forced to narrow her gaze and deliver her prepared remarks in clipped, crisp military tones.
Like any commander, her leadership apparatus seems to enjoy these little jolts. Once in a while when she looks a little sluggish, Mr. Henry will deliberately leave something in the wrong place or otherwise violate well-established rules. On cue, she erupts.
One good grouse in the morning and sheâ€™s right as rain for the whole day.
During the skirmish Little Henry heads directly for the front door, foregoing the covert gulp of Dadâ€™s coffee. With sure survival instinct Pepper takes a defensive position under the dining room table.
In high-risk engagements like these, Mr. Henryâ€™s finds his best course of action is not to engage. His fallback tactic is to feign deafness. Of course, this doesnâ€™t really work, and perhaps never did, but it always buys a little time, perhaps enough to change the subject or be stricken by what insurance underwriters call â€œan act of God.â€
After years of battlefield experience he knows better than to ask a question. Each question of his will be met by a question of hers slightly off subject. Another round of question-meeting-question leads the discussion deeper into a thicket. When she draws attention to her sainted forbearance and long-suffering patience, Mr. Henry may be tempted to toss off an Oscar Wildean witticism about how remarkably short her long-suffering can be. But he refrains. He hopes to live a long and fruitful life, thanks to having found his rightful place in the chain of command.