When we first started dating, I noticed cryptic little messages on Billy's right hand. Tiny letters spelled out reminders in a code only he could understand.
"What's that?" I asked, pointing to the small "L3" written black ink on the back of his hand.
"Call Laurie, three o'clock," he said, staring at his own writing. "I put little reminders for myself there, you know Check on so-and-so, see if this item came in. Stuff like that."
In our first few weeks, there was always an L on his hand, and I took it to mean me. I thought it was sweet, that if calling me should slip his mind in the midst of a hectic workday, he had a back up plan.
Weeks later, I noticed that my name (or, more appropriately, my letter) no longer adorned his smooth hand. "Where's the reminder to call me?" I jabbed one night, holding his hand to inspect it for remnants of a notation regarding me. But there was none, and yet his call still came.
He tapped his forehead. "Frontal lobe, baby."
I laughed and tossed his hand back into his lap. "What does that mean?"
"It means you've moved into the frontal lobe. I don't need a reminder to call you anymore. That's big." He nodded, perhaps to punctuate the idea that he thought of me regularly, with or without the writing on his hand.
Almost eight months later, and he still writes notes on his hand, but none of them involve me. Somehow, despite his already cluttered memory, he remembers to call me or bring home things he promised he would.
Sunday night, we were crawling into bed after a lazy afternoon to settle in for sleep. I set the alarms, then turned to him. "Oh," I said, "please remind me to put my birth control pills in my purse tomorrow morning."
"Why do you put them in your purse."
"Well, that way, if I forget to take them here, I can take them at work. And then I don't get off schedule."
"Why don't you just remember to take them here?"
"You think I haven't thought of that?" As though this was my first experience with my pills, never mind the six years I've been taking them so far. "It's just a back up plan."
"Well," he said, thinking, "why don't you take them every morning when you bring the coffee up?"
"Because I'm always rushing around to leave on time, so I forget most days."
"I'll remind you," he said matter-of-factly, like it was the most obvious solution.
"Babe, you'd forget your own name most days. And you expect to remember to remind me to take my pill?"
He bowed his head and pinched his forehead. "Birth control, birth control, birth control," he whispered over and over. After a minute or so of my giggling, he stopped, lifted his head and looked at me. "Got it." He tapped his forehead. "Frontal lobe."
"Whatever," I laughed, curling into him. "We'll see."
Monday morning, he reminded me as soon as I entered the room with our coffee. Surprised that he actually remembered, I thanked him and swallowed the little blue pill. Tuesday and Wednesday, same thing. Thursday morning, we rushed around getting ready, and just before I left, I noticed my pills on the dresser. I took one quickly, wondering if he'd shout out a reminder from behind the bathroom door as I scurried past on my way to the car. He didn't.
When I got in to work, I sent him a text message: "Guess who forgot to remind me to take my birth control pill, EVEN THOUGH HE TOLD ME HE WOULDN'T FORGET BECAUSE IT WAS IN HIS FRONTAL LOBE?!?!"
His argument in our playful conversation this morning was that he thought he was only supposed to remind me on Monday, and that it was my job to remember from there. My counter-point was that he'd remembered for three days, then dropped the ball. He came back with "Well, it's not my fault you forgot." I told him I'd been remembering for six years using my method, and that he suggested I change that method and subsequently volunteered to remind me every morning. "Besides," I said, "I like that you remind me, because then we're sharing the duties of birth control, rather than it being the sole responsibility of me."
He said something crass about already doing his part in terms of birth control (which does not bear repeating here, but made me laugh out loud the entire time it took me to get dressed), and then begrudgingly reminded me to take it today.
"Too late," I said, pulling my shoes on. "I already took it today. No thanks to you." I tapped my forehead, "Frontal lobe, babe," I mimicked. He threw my discarded towel at me. "Maybe you should start writing on your hand again."
He turned to face me, jaw agape, corners of his mouth fighting back a smile. He pushed me back onto the bed. After exploding in laughter, I got up and walked past him. "Have a good day, asshole," I huffed, heading toward the door to leave.
"Get back here," he said, in his best bossy voice. He grabbed my free hand, pulled me into him and kissed me square on the mouth.
We laughed, traded "I love you"s, and went off to face our workdays.
And, for whatever sick reason, our little mock fight has put me in the best mood today. Is that wrong?