Funny, Isn’t It?
My priest said something interesting at Mass last Sunday. He spoke to the fact that most professions, including his own, require continuing education to ensure that the person functions properly in their position. (Yeah, I know—the Bishops turned their heads on some major problems. Shame on the Bishops! Helpless victims are still paying for that head-turning. And so are good priests, like mine.)
But this column is about continuing education. Not about eviscerating the hierarchy of my church. So that’s my only comment about that—for now.
My friend, Jim, recently had to take a real estate test although he’s been in the biz practically since Vanderbilt built the manse here in Asheville.
And that’s a good thing—because things change constantly.
Going back to my priest’s homily—stick with me, I’ll get to the point eventually. He commented: “Sadly, there’s no continuing education for relationships, especially marriages.”
Bingo! Now isn’t that the truth? Unless your marriage has an exemplary H.R. Department. Which mine does not.
How would you score if you had to take a test on how you treat your spouse or significant other? Your children? Your parents? Your neighbors? Your co-workers? What would your grade be?
I think I’d pass cum laude as a mother (my four daughters live in Maine, California, New York, and Raleigh, so our brief times together are too precious to mess up with squabbles). My neighbors would call me neighborly (I think) and, if there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that I am a very good friend. My co-workers loved me because I was fair and mentored many of them. As to my parents, there were some rocky spots, but Mom and Dad are no longer in this universe, and memory has turned the rocks to grains of sand—on both sides, I hope.
So, let me focus on marriage or intimate partnership—that 24/7 relationship which, in my opinion, challenges most anyone who attempts it.
Let’s see. What should be the questions for a husband-wife, a live-in union, or a same-sex cohabitation test? I’ll take a stab.
1. Are you cheerful around this person—90%, 60%, 40% of the time?
2. Do you smile when he/she enters the room?
3. Do you thank him/her for favors—like not telling your friends what a miserable schmuck you can be sometimes?
4. Do you scratch his/her back?
5. Do you have his/her back?
6. Can you control your tongue when he/she has bad breath?
7. Or when his/her hair looks like the head of a Chia pet?
8. When he/she asks if he/she looks fat, do you answer honestly or kindly?
9. Do you say, “I love you” at least once a day.
10. Do you ever go to bed mad?
I fear I would flunk my own test. Especially that 10th point about going to bed mad. Sometimes, it feels so good to climb into bed furious and roll over with my back to him.
Plus, it gives me a chance to read with the light on, which I know will piss him off royally. Touché, darling!
You might ask of my beloved—what’s he ever done to deserve such treatment?
1. Not smiled when I came into the room, hair and teeth unbrushed.
2. Not told me a dress is pretty when I had forked out $79.00 for it on sale
3. Not accompanied me as I walked my diarrheal dog at 3:00 a.m.
4. Said I looked “matronly,” because he thought it meant “womanly.”
5. Not noticed the one time in my life I lost that last five pounds.
On the other hand:
1. He did smile and hug me after I complained about point #1 above.
2. Never complained about my buying that dress.
3. Loves my dog and my daughters and my friends.
4. Looked up the word “matronly” in the dictionary and apologized.
5. Did not notice when I put the five pounds back on.
A friend and I sometimes discuss how difficult it is to live with another human being for many years. We gripe, knowing full well that our men are among the good ones. Can you imagine how nasty life would be if Matt was a lout?
It is my nature to sometimes act the witch. (Change the w to b.) I will never be canonized a saint. Or even beatified. And I know it.
Then again, neither will he. Funny, isn’t it?
Jeanne Charters is a writer, wife, mother, grandmother and happy faux Southern lady since moving to Western North Carolina nine years ago from New York. Her book funny, isn’t it? is a collection of her favorite columns and makes a great gift of laughter for you or a friend. The book is available at Malapropos, Mountain Made Book Store in the Grove Arcade, or at jeannecharters.com. Jeanne recently completed her second novel and resides in Asheville with her husband, Matt Restivo. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org