My husband went camping on Mount Diablo last weekend. He took along his son, son-in-law and two grandsons, for a short "boy's weekend out" in preparation for the longer "father and sons trip" coming up in June.

Did I feel left out as he packed up his clothes (a grocery bag filled with two T-shirts and one pair of shorts -- no underwear, pajamas, etc.), gathered the ingredients for the campfire dinner (hot dogs, mac salad and chips -- no healthy foods whatsoever) and jumped into his beat-up Volkswagen camper/van to set out on his adventure?

Was I jealous that he would be spending the night under the VW rooftop, wrapped only in a spare sheet and tattered old blanket, listening to the Boy Scout troops next-door sing "The Worms Crawl In" late into the night?

Seriously?

Perhaps in the past, when we were first married, I would have moped around, tried to make him feel guilty for leaving me and tossed and turned all night until he returned. Back then I even resented that his job took him away from me for eight hours a day. Why couldn't he just stay home and hang out with me?

Well, that was then, and this is 40 years later. Truthfully, I couldn't wait to hear that old sputtering engine rev up and head down the driveway, taking my husband with it for the next 24 hours.

Don't get me wrong -- I still love the guy. But when the cat's away, the wife gets to do all kinds of unsupervised and unreported things she might not ordinarily do.

During that first hour, I felt like a woman at a shoe sale. The possibilities were endless. What would I do first? Rent a horror movie that my husband refuses to see? Eat the rest of the Sees candy I got for Mother's Day and not save any for him? Turn up the music he can't stand and pretend I'm on "Glee?"

All of the above, which only took about an hour total. After that, I had trouble figuring out what a mouse without a cat would do for the rest of the day.

I could go shopping, but I can do that anytime. I could go to the movies, but it's more fun sharing popcorn with my husband. I could go out to dinner by myself, but everyone would stare at me.

By the time my husband arrived home, I hadn't done much of anything. I didn't clean the house (cluttered with grandkids' toys). I didn't buy a new outfit (not at this weight). I didn't work on my college grades (already overdue.)

Instead I woke up late and lay in bed reading the newspaper from front page headlines to last page Public Announcements. I ate leftovers. I watched "House" reruns. I caught up on my email (dating back to January). I took a two-hour nap.

OK, I'll admit it. Wife's weekend alone wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be.

I missed my husband's witty repartee, his homemade lattes, his gourmet cooking, his ability to fix broken stuff, his enjoyment of "Mythbusters." I'm going to have to do better planning next time he goes away for a weekend.

Like join a singles group ....

Reach Penny Warner at www. pennywarner.com.