A BATTLE FOR
A new hairdo, a spray-on tan, a facial, working out almost
every day---obviously, my wife was having an affair.
"Who's the lucky guy?" I nonchalantly asked as she
came home sweating from another workout.
It didn't take long for me to bust her. We were leaving the
next day for our annual trip to her homeland, a small town an hour north of
Montreal, and this year we were invited to the wedding of the son of her
best friend from high school.
"He'll be there, won't he?" I asked, eyeing her
She wouldn't look at me directly. But there was a trace of a
smile. She was going to enjoy this. "Who?"
"You know who. That dashing French-Canadian ex-high school
boyfriend of yours, Paul Citroen."
"It's not 'Citroen,' she replied. "That's a car. And
yes, he'll be there. But I haven't seen him in 35 years. He might have aged
Clearly, she was determined to show him that she hadn't aged.
But I quickly realized this wasn't all about her. I'd heard enough stories
of my wife riding on the back of the dashing Paul's motorcycle, her hands
wrapped around his waist, her head nestled into his back as they sped
through the Quebec countryside without helmets, the stupid idiots.
How many times had I heard how handsome he was? A French
Adonis. Long flowing raven hair, Sculpted body. Chiseled face. Yuck.
And now I would get a chance to meet the man who got caught
making out with my wife behind the high-school gym 38 years ago. This meant
war. I had to rise to the occasion.
"What are you doing?" my wife asked as I dropped to
the floor and started doing pushups.
"Pumping up for Paul," I answered, a bit out of
breath. "I've got to show him you made the right choice."
I popped up from the floor and showed her my newfound muscles.
She was impressed. We were now a team and we high-fived each other. We'd
show that dashing Frenchie that we didn't miss him in the least.
My wife packed her sexiest cocktail dress and I packed my most
elegant suit (of the two I owned) and we flew to Montreal. At the car rental
counter, I upgraded from Economy to a Premium Car, in case he saw us drive
On the day of the wedding, my wife spent even more time than
usual getting ready, adding a little more tan cream to her shoulders (in
case he forgot we live in California) and I did a few more pushups, just in
case we came to blows.
We arrived at the church a little early and took our seats.
Then we sat back and scanned everyone who came up the aisle, waiting for the
famous Paul (or "Pol" if you want the correct French
pronunciation--double yuck) make his entrance.
We couldn't find him. No one even remotely resembling a dashing
Frenchman had appeared. I could see the look of panic begin to creep into my
wife's face. All that work, all those treatments....what a waste. I didn't
even want to think about all those pushups I did.
My wife turned to an acquaintance sitting nearby and, trying
not to sound too desperate (probably for my sake) asked them if they knew
what happened to "Pol."
"What do you mean?" they replied, pointing to someone
across the aisle and about three rows in front of us. "He's right
When my wife looked over and finally recognized her long lost
boyfriend, I wasn't sure if I saw disappointment or exhilaration in her
face. I'm going with exhilaration, especially after she started quietly
chanting, "I WIN, I WIN, I WIN."
The aging battle was no contest. The dashing Frenchie was no
longer dashing. The sculpted body had gained 50 pounds. The chiseled face
had collapsed. He looked more like a French Archie Bunker than a French
"Well, at least he still has all his hair and it's not
that grey," my wife said, trying to be a gracious winner.
I preferred to grind my French nemesis into the dirt. "He
probably colors it," I replied.
We high-fived again, which was okay because the ceremony hadn't
started. And once it was over, we went up to "Pol" and said our
He turned out to be a nice guy. Up until then, I had never even
considered that as part of the equation.