You know that IBM computer that won at "Jeopardy!" recently? I wonder if it can be reprogrammed for marriage.
Here's the question I would ask it: What is the correct answer when a husband struggles to help his wife zip up a tight evening dress and she asks, "Is it the zipper or is it me?"
Millions of years of human misery go into crafting that response correctly. I'd like to see Watson answer that one.
Or, how about: "They have such a nice house."
Whenever my wife Posh and I go somewhere new, she always comes home saying, "They have such a nice house."
It seems innocent enough, but you husbands understand that this simple little declarative sentence contains a heavy smear of subtext.
"They have such a nice house" doesn't merely express appreciation for what the friends have done with the house; it raises concerns that our own place isn't up to snuff, or that our tastes have fallen behind the times, or that we haven't bought a new couch in three years.
It implies that our floors need to be refinished, and the window treatments aren't really treatments — they're just windows. So there's that.
And there is also the question of square footage. When Posh tours a house that has an unused extra bedroom, her eyes begin to mist over like when she talks about visiting Tuscany with her next husband, Colin Firth. To have an extra bedroom — an office, a music room, anything — is to Posh the American Dream. It'd also be a handy place to stash our dog Cujo when guests come over so that he doesn't snatch their fingers from around their food.
So when my wife makes the loaded observation, "They have such a nice house," what do I say?
"Hey, how about a tall glass of gin?"
Marriage is politics. You never need to respond to anything directly.
By the way, we're going to the Oscars, Posh and I. Hope to see you there. If not, we'll be thinking of you as we sit there in our rental clothes — underwear and all.
Through some obvious breakdown in the academy's ticketing process, we ended up with seats.
"Hey Gomer, we're going to prom," Posh said when she opened the invite.
You have to understand that our last major social event was the Blue and Gold Cub Scout dinner, which didn't require a tux or an evening gown. Posh wore jeans. I wore cargo shorts, epaulets and a coonskin cap. Carried a musket. Skinned a squirrel.
Those are the kind of social events we're mostly used to. Everyone brings a nice casserole.
Now, I've got this Oscars deal to contend with — not even sure how we're getting there. The closest thing we have to a limo is the Honey Fitz, our old minivan, which reeks of soccer socks and French fries. But it blew a hose the other morning. Later in the day, Posh torched it and pushed it off a cliff, in hopes of claiming $300 in insurance (fingers crossed).
We have another car, the Little German, but I'm not sure how the hot-running vehicle would handle the long wait outside the Kodak. For all its inner failings, the Little German is still a beautiful automobile. I just dread the moment when I have to ask Posh to get out and push us to the drop-off point.
It'd be like Lamaze all over again.
Me: Push, Poshy!
Her: You cretin! You … piece of …
Me: Push, Poshy! I can see his head!
I may end up renting a limo or a town car, though that's not exactly in the budget. What's a limo run on Oscar night? I'd have to hawk a kidney.
Then there's the tux, which I may have painted on, like the swimsuits in Sports Illustrated.
And if Posh will suspend my morals clause for one night, I'd like to be carried along the red carpet in a giant egg, by sweaty supermodels in the finest gold lamé gowns. I'd remain in an embryonic stage until we got to our seats.
"You've been in an embryonic stage for years," Posh noted.
"That's from good nutrition," I say.
No worries. My date and I will get to the Oscars somehow, like we always do, slipping in 20 minutes late and carrying a nice casserole.
No, that's not a gag. That's just us, arriving at our first Academy Awards.
They'd better have popcorn.