A LITTLE HONESTY
CAN GO A LONG WAY
My wife flew to Montreal last week to visit her 93 year
old mother. As I drove her to the airport, I decided to be honest with
her, for the first time in 40 years. I was tired of being a fraud.
"I'm not going to miss you until the fifth night,"
I bravely announced as we cruised down the freeway towards SFO.
"Excuse me?" she replied. "I'm only going for
five nights, like I always do. What are you talking about?"
I kept my eyes on the road. "I've decided I'm tired of
lying. You know when you call me on the first or second night and I tell
you how I miss you? Well....I really don't. At least not for the first
four nights. Not until the fifth. "
As I had hoped, she wasn't upset. In fact, she said she
admired my honesty and wanted me to know that she didn't really miss me
when I went out of town, either.
"I've given it a lot of thought," I added,
"and I've settled on the four nights maximum before I start missing
you. How many nights before you start missing me?"
She didn't skip a beat. "I was thinking more in terms of
In the end, we both agreed four nights was appropriate. There
would be no more dishonesty in our marriage. We both admitted we were
thrilled when the other one went out of town, and now it was my turn to be
The first night is always the best. I got home at my leisure,
cracked open a beer, made some popcorn and sat down to watch Hacksaw
Ridge, the Mel Gibson directed World War II movie that details an assault
on Okinawa. It's nonstop blood and guts, and my wife would have hated it.
But she was nowhere to be found.
She called, though, to report she had made it to
Montreal. I put the movie on pause, just as a picture of a blown up torso
of a soldier filled the screen. Then I looked at the floor, where 1/5th of
the popcorn had failed to make it into my mouth. Then I looked at my
attire, and she wouldn't have been impressed.
"How's it going?" she asked.
This is where I would, in the past, have said that I
missed her. But nothing could be further from the truth and I no longer
needed to lie. I was happy as a clam, and I told her so.
And then, as we were about to hang up, I offered her the
salutation we had agreed to now use instead of I miss you. "I
remember you fondly," I cooed.
"I remember you fondly, too," she said as she hung
Once the movie was over, I scrounged around for some dinner,
made more of a mess, watched the end of the Warriors game, and then
pounced into bed like a 500 pound gorilla, upsetting no one with my
actions. And when I had a little trouble getting to sleep, I happily
switched on the light and no one claimed a nuclear bomb had gone off in
The second night was more of the same, and so was the third
and fourth. Sports on television, take-out dinners, a little junk food,
playing some music that never gets heard in our house (what's wrong with
Peter, Paul and Mary and The Monkees?), volume blaring....it was Nirvana.
But, as usual, each night became less of an adventure, and by
the fifth night it was time to give it up. Just like houseguests who spice
up the life of single, unattached people, everyone has their limits. For
single people, there comes a time when you want the houseguests to leave.
For me, it was time for my wife to come home.
"I miss you," I said when my wife called while I
was eating my McDonald's grilled chicken snack wrap on the fifth night.
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to turn the music down
before answering the phone. Herman's Hermits "I'm Henry the Eighth, I
Am" was playing in the background.
"I'll be home tomorrow," she replied. "When's
your next trip?"
"I'll be gone for five days in late April."
Our marriage was evolving into a more perfect union, filled
with pure honesty. "Excellent duration," she announced.