Friday, December 20, 2013

Be quiet and save a marriage

“Don’t say it”

    I imagine most of you realize that I love Kay. Love her a lot. She’s the light of my life, the Splenda in my coffee and my favorite sharer of movie popcorn. I’m sure she’d say at least one of those things about me. 

    Last week we had our 42nd anniversary. Some of you may not be aware, but the traditional gift theme for 42 years of wedded bliss is fuzzy socks with a tiny bit of rubber traction on the bottom. They’re not cheap, either. I got Kay’s pair at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Those people are not known for giving away fuzzy socks.

    In my defense for getting such a non-romantic gift, let me point out that Kay and I agreed that the two lamps we recently purchased would serve as our anniversary gifts. It’s practical stuff like that adds tremendously to the 42 years of wedded bliss.

For 42 years, Kay and I have never raised our voices to one another, thrown non-stuffed objects, or intentionally head-butted. That’s important in 63 percent of all successful marriages.

    The most important thing we do to maintain a good marriage is to heed the wise advice of Garry Trudeau, who said, “The key to a successful marriage is the two or three things you don’t say everyday.”

    I have gotten so good at not saying stuff that I sometimes scare me. Used to, I was liable to pop off at any time. -- “Darling, I’d love to play Santa at the church Christmas party, but I’m afraid I’ll be suffering from food poisoning. Speaking of which, do we have any pork products in the fridge that I can set out on the cabinet for a few days?”

    That was the old Mark. The new Mark is so much better. Take yesterday. Yesterday, Kay smashed her third lamp in two months. Two of ‘em were pole lamps. The other was the $120 matching table lamp I got her for our anniversary.

One of the pole lamps crashed because— Well, it’s complicated. It’s enough that you know that Kay did it. The other pole lamp committed suicide shortly after Kay entered the guest room. Kay said it just keeled over. Apparently, so scared that it lost its balance. They’ll sure do it.  

The table lamp she destroyed last night was an accident, pure and simple. Involuntary manslaughter of an inanimate object. Story being, I was in my recliner watching TV. I was just as happy as a roach on jellied-toast. Out of the blue Kay said, “Sweetie, do you like the way the room is arranged?”

I thought about it for a second and then said, “No, not so much. But, then I’m not too crazy about my boxer briefs that have no slit in the front. What is that all about?” That comment hung over the room till the next commercial. That’s when I said, “Darling, would you like to rearrange the furniture?”

She said, “Okay, if you’d like.” The dagger was inserted. This girl is good. During our rearranging project, the cord on Kay’s new lamp -- the one with the giant glass ball at the center -- crashed to the floor. She nearly cried. I reassured her that all was well on our small portion of Planet Earth.

After a major cleanup we got back to the furniture move.The last thing to move was an end table that held another lamp. I wisely unplugged the lamp and started to move it. That’s when Kay said, “Be careful, now. We don’t want to break another lamp.” Dagger twisted.

Had we been married a mere 35 years, I would not have let that cautionary comment slide on by. The statement was true. No doubt about it, we did not want to break another lamp. Had it been said three lamps ago, it wouldn’t have fazed me. But three lamps later, the implication stung.

WE? WE don’t want to break another lamp? “Darling, there’s only one lamp killer in this house, and it’s not the one wearing boxer briefs.”

But, I didn’t say that. You want to know what I said? I said nothing. I just let it go. In doing so, smoke slowly seeped from my right ear. I had sacrificed a portion of my frontal lobe.

It’s a wonder Kay has any brain cells left at all. The number of times that girl has kept quiet during my many disastrous moments is unhealthy as all get out. If a CSI team gave this house a once over, I’ll bet they would discover several impressions in the wall where it looks like a person about 5’ 6” did some serious head-butting. 

I said we never head-butted one another. Said nothing about the walls. A serious wall-butt now and again can actually save a marriage. Kay probably even did one after she got her fuzzy anniversary socks. Hey, did I tell you where I got those things?


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