Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY
I’m a lucky man. My wife really loves me, despite the fact that I’m me. Most women would have long ago employed the favorite phrase of my mom and various school teachers over the years: “I refuse to put up with your nonsense anymore!”
I want to show my wife how much I appreciate that she’s stayed with me for two decades through thick and thin. (Thick: my head. Thin: my wallet.) I want to do something very special for her. Some possibilities:
Buy her a new car. I know she’d love a new car, but there’s one slight problem: the last I heard, new cars cost money—lots of money—and since our oldest child is heading off to college this year, whatever financial security we’ve accumulated over the course of 20 years is about to vanish in an instant.
Remodel the kitchen. I know she’d love a new kitchen, but there’s one slight problem: the last I heard, remodeling contractors cost money—lots of money—and since our oldest child is, well, you know the story.
Hire a maid. I know she’d love for someone else to do all the housework, but there’s one slight problem: my wife would never let anyone outside the family see a sloppy house. If the maid was scheduled to come over on, say, Wednesday, my wife would spend all day Tuesday scrubbing every square inch of the house. Also, the last I heard, you must pay the domestic help their wages, even if there was nothing for them to do when they arrived, which means we’re once again talking about money.
There is one thing I could do for my wife that is within my budget, and I know it would make her more happy than a new car, a new kitchen, and her own personal Alice-from-The-Brady-Bunch combined. My wife would be thrilled if I took her out dancing.
However, there is one slight problem: the last I heard, going out dancing requires that you stand on an open floor in a public facility where other people might possibly see you. And even if these other people are total strangers and as drunk as fraternity brothers on spring break, I just can’t do it. I have dance-phobia.
On every single occasion that I have ever danced—both times, in fact!—the same thing happened. The moment I walked out onto the dance floor, I could feel every pore on my body begin to gush sweat. As soon as the music started and it was time to, as they say, “shake your booty,” I suddenly felt as if I was standing on center stage at the Metropolitan Opera House with 5,000 people (plus a national TV audience) starring directly at me waiting for a command performance—plus, I had forgotten to wear any pants.
Even though I was actually at some very un-Metropolitan Opera House-like places, such as Karl’s Klam Barn in Misquamicut, RI, and the Knights of Columbus hall in Bridgeport for my cousin Darla’s wedding; and even though there were a tad fewer than 5,000 people starring at me, more like seven guys at Karl’s watching a ball game on TV and 150 people at Darla’s wedding fighting at the open bar; and even though I had remembered to wear pants—I was so self-conscious, it seemed certain that I’d melt into a big puddle right on the spot.
In both cases, my wife finally had to say, “OK, OK, we won’t dance. We’ll go back to our table and sit down. But first let’s get a janitor to mop up the mess you left on the dance floor—it is just sweat, isn’t it?”
So, at this point, my choices are pretty limited. I really want to do something special for my wife. Robbing a bank to pay for a nice gift is probably a short-sighted option (“I’m glad you like the new car, Hon, but I, uh, I need to borrow it and flee to Canada to hide from the cops”).
Therefore, I’ll make reservations at a fancy place for a wonderful evening of dinner and dancing. My wife will be thrilled that I’m putting her desires ahead of my own (for once). And just before we leave the house, I’ll make sure to drop a cinder block on my foot, break a few bones, and tell my wife that we’ll have to try it again some other time.
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