40: Perfect

40: Perfect

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!


The trouble with, “A place for everything and everything in its place” is that there’s always more everything than places.

~Elayne Bundy

As a husband, you have to be really careful what you say because your wife might just take you to task — literally — based on nothing more than a simple statement like: “I’m going to golf all day Saturday; then Sunday I’ll do whatever you want to do, dear.”

“That’s what you said,” my wife reminded me, handing me a hammer.

“What I meant was we could go to lunch. Grab a crab melt at Moby Dick’s out on Stearns Wharf or something. Watch tourists try to park their Hummers in those compact-car-only spots. That’s always fun. Maybe someone interesting will show up — like the guy who lets the pigeons eat breadcrumbs off his head. You know he hasn’t had dandruff in years? Or hair for that matter. Plus he never needs a hat because of the sunscreen effect of all that guano. Whataya say we check that out? Doesn’t that sound like fun?”

“Sure,” my wife said.

I smiled at my own resourcefulness.

“Right after we finish redecorating the house.”

This confirms one of my many profound theories about married life. See, I believe that if a wife only had one wall and one thing to hang on it, she’d still want to rearrange it on a regular basis. It’s in the genes. This differs from most guys I know who would only take down a piece of their art to put new batteries in it so the word “cerveza” would light up again.

“Why am I moving this painting that looked ‘perfect’ over the fireplace — your word, not mine — just a few months ago?”

“Because it’s summer and this will look much nicer up there.”

“You want to put a blanket over the fireplace?”

“It’s not a blanket. It’s a handmade Pennsylvania Dutch quilt. It’s art.”

“Taxidermy is art, too. Why don’t we get a moose head? We wouldn’t have to move it from season to season, just decorate it with different hats and funny signs and stuff.”

I waited for the accolades of approval. Instead my wife handed me a curtain rod and I began my long ascent up the stepladder.

Did I mention the fact that we have cathedral ceilings? I believe these too were invented by wives, for wives. Because no guy in his right mind, who knows he is eventually going to have to repaint his “kingdom,” wants ceilings that soar to the nosebleed section.

“Higher,” my wife said.

“I’m already standing on the step that says do not go above this step. What if the home repair police show up and cart me off to homeowner’s jail. Then where will you be? Huh?”

“Higher,” she said again.

I took another step up, cursing the existence of Pennsylvania Dutch culture on the way. “Oh look, an eagle’s nest,” I said.

I looked down. My wife looked like an ant.

“Perfect,” she yelled.

It took about fifteen minutes to get the blanket — excuse me, art quilt — perfectly straight, then another fifteen minutes to put the painting that had been over the fireplace over the couch.

“Left. No, right. No, left. No, right.”

“You know,” I said. “If you ever want to try a different career. You’d have a real future leading parades.”

“That’s funny. You should write humor.”

I thought I noted a bit of sarcasm in that statement, but before I could respond, she said: “Okay, now all we need to do is take the two landscapes that were over the couch and put them in the dining room and take the watercolor that was in the dining room and put that in the guest room and then take the photos that were in the guest room and put them in the hall and then…”

Impossible as it must seem, I finally did get this all done. And, after a few minutes of agonizing scrutiny, my wife smiled and said: “Perfect.”

I sighed in relief.

That’s when the front door opened and my stepdaughter Christy walked in.

“What’s that?” my wife asked.

Christy — the artist/troublemaker — held up her brand new oil painting.

“Boats!” my wife exclaimed. “I love boats. It’s going to look perfect over…”

“Don’t say it,” I begged.

“… the fireplace,” she finished.

In my next life, I’m going to be the pigeon guy.


~Ernie Witham

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