Friday, February 17, 2006

Love and Respect- Or Else!

Well it’s been an interesting week down here on the Gulf. OK, so my first attempt at “the papers” went over like a fart in church (do you smell something?). It seems most of you were “offended” by what I had to say. For your sake, I suppose I shall endeavor to stay away from political rants in the future (note- I make no promises). Nevertheless, I want to go on record as having said your criticism and attempts to muzzle me have left me insulted… now, where did I put those Molotov cocktails and Danish flags?

At the risk of sounding like a whiner (you have no idea how hard it was for me to resist inserting some analogy to bleeding-heart liberals here), it’s hard to write for you people. You heap so much pressure upon me. “We want funny ben back,” you say. Well, I don’t do comedy on demand… and when I do, all I hear in return is the sound of a distant cricket chirping in the summer night. Besides, I’m not so sure I know who “funny ben” is. Perhaps that’s the whole reason “the papers” died in the first place. I am working under much more adverse conditions now. I used to be young with a quick wit and wry sense of humor. I could turn almost anything into a joke. I am much older and more mature now… (cricket chirp). Turning jokes like that would only put my back out if I were to try them now. I don’t have the wondrous imagination I used to. Yes, it’s sad to be old. Plus, my life back then was something of a novelty. I was away from home, in college, in a military school and in New England. There was a plethora of curiosities, oddities, adventures, exploits, antics and a wealth of characters. The cold, wet miserable weather in New England alone lent itself to a paragraph’s worth of rants. In south Texas, the annual variation in temperature is about ten degrees. They crank up their heaters and start making chicken noodle soup if it drops below eighty. There is no more novelty in my life. I have a stable job and a stable family- a routine everything. I spend my days behind a desk. I live in Texas where, up until a couple weeks ago, I was a novelty as the only guy within a 162.7 mile radius who didn’t own a gun (there was a hippie in Austin who refused to buy one, but I think they’re trying to chase him to the north). On Friday nights, I gorge myself on a large pepperoni pizza from Domino’s in front of the TV, undo my belt, and turn-in at about eight thirty. My wife, the only character left in my daily routine, says I should write about married life…. This from the lady who stared blankly right through me as I rolled around on the floor laughing, sobbing and grasping at my pants after I told her I was going to open today’s edition with the comment about the “fart in church”. Granted, it’s not my best work (not even completely my own), but if you close your eyes right now, bow your head in silent prayer and concentrate real hard- you can almost hear it… now THAT's funny people!

So, do I take her comment to mean I have an open license on our marriage? Dare I turn our sacred covenant into a novelty? I thought she knew me better than that. This past weekend she and I went to a “resort” of sorts for a couples retreat. The quotation marks denote the lack of heating or hot water on the one of the coldest weekends in recent Texas history (it’s all relative, folks). I’m sure it was a real nice place… during the Nixon administration. I knew it was time to go as emotions started to run high, people started getting teary-eyed and humming “cum-bye-yaw”. Nevertheless, we had a pretty good time and learned a lot about love and respect; and I believe we are a better couple because of it. We have already learned to apply the lessons to our daily lives:

Me: “This place is a mess. I’d love you unconditionally if you would clean this dump up.

Her: “Shut up, you big jerk! You are always bossing me around! …Respectfully yours- Your loving wife” (As if she were writing me a letter… “Hey, what’s this white powder?”)

Yup, life is great. Her birthday is about a week after Valentines Day, so I strategically convinced her that we should tone down the Valentines… unless she was eyeing some slutty lingerie. She was not. She was under the impression that our plans were to have a quiet dinner at home. I let her believe that while I spent the past several weeks scheming otherwise. Instead, on Valentines morning as she lay in bed stressing about groceries and cooking, I had taped a romantic card to the bathroom mirror for her to discover when she eventually got moving. I informed her that I had made plans and told her not to worry about dinner. Later that evening, while she was getting dressed to go out, the stargazer lilies I ordered arrived at the door. She got all choked up before I could even open the car door for her.

I had made reservations for us at “The Melting Pot”, an overpriced fondue restaurant she wanted to try. The night was hers and the experience (read: novelty) in and of itself was quiet fun in a romantic and girly kind of way. But if the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach (Exhibit “A”- I’ve put on at least ten pounds since the wedding), then truly “The Melting Pot” caters to the man’s own heart. After all, nothing could be more appealing to the male primal instincts than slathering various food products deemed “healthy” by some nerdy science guy (read: fruits and veggies) into a pot of simmering cheese and bacon laced with beer and brandy. Next they slap a large tray of raw meats in front of you. You stab at it with little metal spears and boil a piece of meat in another concoction. You eat that piece of meat while you are boiling the next bite. Finally, top the evening off with a vat of boiling chocolate with brownies, strawberries, cheesecake and marshmallows coated in cookie crumbs (this last one almost did me in). It had occurred to me that perhaps the whole experience was more troublesome than, and just as expensive as, say, ordering a grilled steak at the fancy restaurant next door. Nevertheless, she was thrilled about the whole event and that’s what is important. The time and money invested were well worth the smile on her face and the memories.

At the risk of getting political (and speaking of killing and eating a variety of small, defenseless animals and boiling them in a concoction piece at a time), I received an email this week with the following quote at the bottom attached to the signature:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. –Gandhi”

Yes, I thought, who cares that Palestine just elected a terrorist organization to lead its government. I am more concerned with how their goats are doing. Does it really matter that Iran is building nuclear weapons and threatening to wipe Israel off the map? No, we need to see how their camels are being treated. Sorry to all my vegan readers out there, but who comes up with this crap??? If only the rest of the big jerks in the world could have the unconditional love that I possess (similar to the one I share with the wife). Maybe if the leaders of the world sat around a vat of boiling chocolate, dipping cookie-encrusted marshmallows, all of these global problems would seem somewhat smaller… or at least send them spiraling into a sugar coma. That’s the news as it happens down here on the range… yadda, yadda, yadda (I ain’t paying no royalties!). Respectfully yours- ben.


At 12:23 PM, Blogger Heather Neely said...

Funny Ben is back! We too had fondue on Valentines Day (there is no Melting Pot up here, but we managed to have a great meal with friends).

At 1:55 PM, Blogger John said...

Steak is good.

Political is okay. Down with Alec Baldwin!

At 7:03 AM, Blogger r morgan said...

Maybe the next big confab of world leaders should include fondue.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger StaceyJoy said...

Last time I went to Melting Pot I actually had to unbutton my pants to make it through the desert course. I love that restaurant.

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