A lot has been made about a recent column in which I wrote about my wife's refusal to obey the bylaws of our marriage. Apparently, this notion of my imposing marital decrees is offensive to some—as if I were one of these emotionally abusive, control-freakish, "Honey-you-can't-go-out-wearing-that-dress" type of husbands.
I think people misunderstood the types of rules I was talking about. I was talking about stuff like: The TV remote controls must always be returned to the drawer, and whomever is driving the car when the fuel indicator first flashes "empty" has to fill the tank. You know, rules that are designed to make both of our lives more convenient and have nothing to do with domination. Seriously, anyone who knows my wife knows the only control I get is when she lets me pick which movie we're going to watch, from the selection of two chick flicks she pre-picked, and I swear to Christ in high Heaven, we have not seen a film in 10 years that didn't have "forever," "always," "heaven," "wedding," "sister" or "traveling" in the title.
But I cry-gress. The reason I'm in favor of marital rules, aside from shared convenience, is to protect myself from the numerous and blatant hypocrisies of my marriage. For instance, when I'm enjoying a meal, she'll swoop right in and take whatever she wants off my plate. However, there are numerous fork-sized scars on the back of my hand from those times when I tried to sample something off her plate.
Sometimes, when I'm hung over and twisting in pain on the couch, I will call out to my beloved, "Honey, I'm dying a bleak, black death over here—can you bring me a glass of water, please?" to which she'll snort, "You did this to yourself!" and leave me to wither like a tree frog impaled on a Mojave cactus needle.
But if she's hung over, the woman will have me driving around trying to find a Yínchu?n herbalist to round up some root of dragon spruce and powder of rhinoceros horn for her ancient Chinese hangover remedy.
The last time was the last straw. "Honey," I said, as the stench of fermented llama fetus wafted from the cauldron I was stirring, "remember two weeks ago when I was hung over and asked you for a glass of ice water?"
"Do you remember what you said?"
"You said, 'People in Hell want ice water, too.'"
"Point is, we need a new rule. Either we take care of each other when we are hung over or we don't take care of each other when we are hung over. I don't care which; just pick one, and we'll go with that."
"You and your rules," she snorted, as if I'm the only lawmaker in the family. Don't you believe for one second that she hasn't installed a few commandments of her own. In fact, just the other night (true story), I came home with some friends after the bar closed and smoked some crack and blared Black Sabbath until the sun came up. Man, was she pissed. The next day, when I was twisting on the Couch of Despair like an impaled tree frog, she barked, "New rule, Ed: The next time you bring your degenerate friends to smoke crack in our home—do not use the good spoons."
"Done," I said—because I am an obeyer of rules as much as a purveyor. "Oh, and while you're up, can you get me a glass of wa—," I said, as the front door slammed and her cackles faded into the distance. Oh well. Whaddaya gonna do? The woman values her silverware.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, But, Ed—I've been reading Sordid Tales for years. All you do is talk about breaking laws and defying social norms. How can it be that you are actually a big, annoying rule guy?
Great question, Imaginary Reader in my Head. I am a rule-breaker, true. But I only break bad rules. Bad rules don't deserve our obedience. Let's take the rule of the common traffic light. Everyone knows that you must stop when the light is red and stay stopped until it turns green. Well, that is one giant fucking stupid-ass rule.
I mean, yes—it's good that we have traffic lights at the bigger, busier intersections. This makes it safer for everyone. However, there are those times at any given light when there's nobody around, yet still we have to sit there and wait for no reason, like a black man at a taxi stand. Now, I ask you, why are we all sitting around waiting at traffic lights in the middle of the night when there are no other cars in the area? Why can't we look both ways then proceed with caution? What's that you say? We can't be trusted to proceed safely through the intersection. Horse balls! If we can be trusted to proceed safely through stop signs, we can be trusted to do it at traffic lights, too.
But I sigh-gress. The point is, rules are great when they're good rules. Good rules help keep us safe with minimal interruption to the natural flow of life. And good marital rules reduce divorce rates and incidents of domestic abuse (providing your wife ever complies with the rules). So you can sneer at my connubial decrees, but remember: Everybody wins with my rules. Because I am the best rule maker ever! My rules are fair to all parties. My rules are never arbitrary. My rules are vetted. My rules are wary of unintended consequences. My rules improve lives. My name is Ed Decker, and I make good rules.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Edwin Decker blogs at www.edwindecker.com. Follow him on Twitter @edwindecker or find him on Facebook.
Make sure not to miss the Sordid Tales podcast!