Cumberland Times-News

Columns

October 20, 2012

The best thing about it might be the silence

A buddy of mine was wearing an expression I’ve seen before ... sometimes in the mirror.

“I’m in trouble,” he said. “My wife is mad at me, and only one of my daughters is speaking to me.”

(Such an arrangement is sometimes referred to as “keeping open a line of communication.” One of them interacts, observes and reports to the others, who maintain a discreet distance from the adversary. It also can be called “taking one for the team.”)

“What exactly have you done,” I asked, “that you’re in trouble?”

“I don’t have the slightest idea,” he said. “And none of them will tell me.”

“Been there, brother,” I said. And I have.

When one is in it — and deeply — it always helps to know that someone else has been in it, too, or might also be in it now.

I myself am not in it — deeply or otherwise — at present. However, like all things, that could change (and I might not even realize it until it’s too late). Even if I am not romantically attached to her, sooner or later, a woman will become angry with me.

Once upon a time, I told him, I was in it — and deeply — because of something I was supposed to have done (and didn’t even remember), while my lady friend was still married to her first husband (she now has had two of them, of which I was not one), and we were just friends.

That brought a smile to his face, so I went on.

Once upon another time, I told him, I fell from grace after doing exactly what this same lady friend had told me to do. She called to tell me that she was sick and couldn’t go to a dinner party that night, but said I should go to it and maybe come out to see her afterward.

This is  precisely what I did. Got to her house about 8:30 p.m., as I recall. Earlier than I would have for a date.

“Where the hell have you been?” is how she greeted me.

When in a state of extreme befuddlement I explained that I was just following her directive, she got mad and told me to get out of her house. I didn’t need much convincing, either.

The last thing I remember about that night is that the phone was ringing when I got home.

Not once, in all the years that have passed, have I been able to recall what happened next. Did I not answer the phone? Did I answer it and go back to her house? Did I answer it and not go back to her house?

I have no idea what happened. But I do know that the conscious mind sometimes blocks out the most unpleasant memories, so ... .

My friend’s predicament reminded me of the old story about two men who were out fishing.

One tells the other, “I think I’m going to leave my wife. She hasn’t talked to me for six months.”

The other replies, “Buddy, you better think twice about that. A woman like that don’t come along every day!”

I was tempted to tell my friend to enjoy the silence while it lasted, but thought better of it.

More recently, I learned that he was on the way out of the doghouse. He had been put on probation after taking them to New York City and a concert in Washington.

It’s not likely that my writing about his recent circumstances will cause him any problems. Both he and his wife probably will read this, but they are reasonable people who have a sense of humor. I hope.

I’ve often been in trouble with a woman who was some other guy’s wife or girlfriend.

The question I always ask is this: “Why are you mad at me? I didn’t do anything.”

The answer I inevitably get is, “You’re his friend, that’s why!”

My friend’s wife isn’t like that. She’s my friend too, and so far as I know has never been mad at me — even though I’m her husband’s friend. (My desire to keep it that way has prevented me from asking why she was mad at him, although I certainly am curious about it.)

Being the only man in a household of women, it’s just a matter of time before he gets in trouble with all or most of them because of something he did (or something he did NOT do, which can have even worse consequences) with absolutely no help from me.

It will happen, even if he is doing his utmost to be on good behavior, attentive and the best husband and father he can be.

The last time I saw him, I told him how I had been sitting at my usual post in that little parklet at Baltimore and Mechanic streets when two men and a woman came to the opposite corner of the street and punched the button for the WALK signal.

As deer hunters would say, this is a good crossing. The woman was most attractive, dressed in a business jacket, short skirt, dark hosiery and tall boots. I thought to myself, “For what we are about to receive, may we be truly thankful.”

They made it across (which is not easy to do at this intersection, even with the WALK light) and passed in front of me — moving from right to left across my radio dial, as the late Jack Fleming used to say while announcing Pittsburgh Steeler and West Virginia University football games.

Three men who were walking one after the other from left to right across my radio dial passed the first group. They turned simultaneously to look over their right shoulders at the same woman I had been observing.

It always helps, I told my friend, to have independent confirmation of one’s opinion.

He grinned, looked to see where his wife was, and — seeing her nowhere — laughed.

After he went about his business, his wife came out to say hello to me.

“Just as I had a story for him,” I told her, “I’ve got one for you.”

She strapped on a grin and was all ears.

I said that while walking up the street a few minutes earlier, I passed three women who looked like they were in their early 20s.

One told the others, “I talked to him, and he has promised me that things will be different.”

My friend threw back her head and laughed uproariously.

So did I, and for the same reason: A mutual awareness that we both know very well how “things will be different” works.

I strongly suspect that she has a far better understanding of why I keep getting into trouble with women than I ever will.

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • It’s hotter here than in D.C. or Baltimore

    At this time of the year, the weather is a frequent subject of conversation, particularly the temperatures. We are now in the “Dog Days,” usually the hottest days of the year. The term comes from our sun appearing to be near the “Dog Star” (Sirius) and the “Little Dog Star” (Procyon). In reality, the sun is now about 94.5 million miles away while Sirius is 8.6 light years away with Procyon at 11 light years distance. Sunlight takes only 507 seconds to reach us, while the two dog stars’ light takes about a decade to travel to our eyes. So our sun is in the same direction (but not distance) as these two bright winter evening stars.

    July 20, 2014

  • Mike Sawyers and his father, Frank Sale of quart-sized Mason jars lagging, merchants claim

    The opening day of Maryland’s squirrel hunting season is Sept. 6 and I am guessing you will be able to drive a lot of miles on the Green Ridge State Forest and see very few vehicles belonging to hunters of the bushytail. It wasn’t always that way. In the early 1960s, when I was a high school student in Cumberland, there was no Interstate 68. What existed was U.S. Route 40 and in the last couple of hours before daylight on the opening day of squirrel season there was an almost unbroken line of tail lights and brake lights between Cumberland and Polish Mountain.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hugo Perez Columnist, son are range finders, but where are .22 shells?

    We feel pretty lucky on this side of the Potomac to have a nice shooting range to utilize for free and within decent driving distance.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Opposition and inclusion understood

    Those of you who have been here before know how I feel about the late great Len Bias, who I will remember foremost as Leonard Bias, the polite, spindly Bambi-eyed kid from Hyattsville’s Northwestern High School, who could throw a dunk through the floor, yet had the most beautiful jump shot I have ever seen.

    July 17, 2014

  • Stopgap

    Kicking the can down the road was one of the things American kids did to pass the time in the old days, particularly if they lived in rural areas where there was little traffic to contend with.

    July 16, 2014

  • Further proof you should never bet on baseball

    Had you known in March that ...

    July 16, 2014

  • Build it now Build it now

    Anticipated savings from demolition work that will provide ground for a new Allegany High School on Haystack Mountain may allow the addition of an auditorium at the school.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fronts, highs, lows determine weather

    Weather news on television and internet focus on violent weather, extreme temperatures and flooding.

    July 13, 2014