Sunday, June 26, 2005

Behind the funny story...

Jack wakes up with a huge hangover after attending his company's Christmas Party. Jack is not normally a drinker, but the drinks didn't taste like alcohol at all. He doesn't even remember how he got home from the party.

As bad as he is feeling, he wonders if he did something wrong. Jack has to force himself to open his eyes, and the first thing he sees is a couple of aspirins next to a glass of water on the side table. And, next to them, a single red rose! Jack sits up and sees his clothing in front of him, all clean and pressed. He looks around the room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotlessly clean. So is the rest of the house. He takes the aspirins, cringes when he sees a huge black eye staring back at him in the bathroom mirror. Then he notices a note hanging on the corner of the mirror written in red with little hearts on it and a kiss mark from his wife in lipstick:

"Honey, breakfast is on the stove, I left early to go get groceries to make you your favorite dinner tonight. I love you, darling! Love, Jillian"

He stumbles to the kitchen and sure enough, there is hot breakfast, steaming hot coffee and the morning newspaper. His son is also at the table, eating. Jack asks, "Son... what happened last night?"

"Well, you came home after 3 AM, drunk and out of your mind. You fell over the coffee table and broke it, and then you puked in the hallway, and got that black eye when you ran into the door."

Confused, he asked his son, "So, why is everything in such perfect order, so clean, I have a rose, and breakfast is on the table waiting for me?"

"His son replies, "Oh THAT! Mom dragged you to the bedroom, and when she tried to take your pants off, you screamed, "Leave me alone, lady, I'm married!"

Broken Coffee Table $39.99
Hot Breakfast $4.20
Two Aspirins $.38
Saying the right thing, at the right time, priceless.

And that is a truly priceless answer, from the viewpoint of the wife. I received this e-mail last week and was laughing over the whole story. I read the story again tonight, and then fell into musing.

Marriage is a sacrament, which both parties should take seriously. Partners should love their partner and be faithful to them. This is no easy thing to accomplish, as old and weathered married ones would tell you. In this story, I immediately understood the premise, which was:

Married man attends party;
Married man arrives home drunk;
Wife secretly worries about passionate attachment;
Wife then finds out happy truth that Married man has stayed faithful.

As soon as I read about the part where Jack has a wife, it hit me that this was going to turn into the age-old story on being faithful. And sure enough, it was.

For children of popular culture, they too would find it easy to guess the premise without finishing the whole story. And this, for me, is where it gets interesting. Why should we be so attuned to the fact that a husband would (most) probably cheat on his wife in the most cliched of parties, the office Christmas party? Is it in the stories that we hear and read, the shows and moveis that we watch? How is it that we automatically know? Or better yet, how is it that we automatically assume such a thing?

Perhaps other people would say that it's part of our social programming today, that we just get used to the fact that a man would most probably cheat on his wife, and that the wife would probably have that fact in the back of her head as well. For why would the wife go to such lengths for the husband after she has found out that he remained pure? Is it a reward of sorts, that the man gets pampered just for doing what he promised to do at the altar? Why should the wife do all that? Is it because she doesn't trust the environment, her husband, or both?

If I had been the wife, I would have been pleased with his reply. But in the morning, Jack would find this note in the mirror:

Broken Coffee Table $39.99
Hot Breakfast $4.20
Two Aspirins $.38
Coming home drunk at 3 AM in the morning, you clean up your own bloody mess.