So, I'm sitting on the recliner, Netflixing the first episode of the last season of Battlestar Galactica, while my wife, Willow, rushes around the house, gathering her bat, mitt, cleats, cap and various other items needed to play in her Thursday-night softball league.
As she walks by the refrigerator, I ask if she would please grab me a can of Diet Coke.
"No, babe. I'm running late," she snarls.
Mind you, she's not that late, and the distance between her and the refrigerator is about the distance between a bum and a bottle of malt liquor at any given time.
"Are you freaking kidding me?" I snap. "You don't have enough time to open the fridge and grab me a goddamn can of Coke?"
Now, I know what youíre thinking. You're thinking, Get off your fat ass and get your own goddamn can of carbonated cola. But, see, the woman was breaking one of the unwritten rules of our marriage. Like every marriage, ours has several, such as: Don't put the pickles in the refrigerator, don't slam the screen door and don't flirt with the server during anniversary or Valentine's Day dinners. Another unwritten rule is what I call the Upright Fetch Mandate, which is as follows: When one spouse is reclining on a chair or couch, and the other is upright, the upright spouse must perform any task requested by the reclining spouse provided that the task is quick and easy to perform.
I think this is a fantastic rule. In my mind, everybody wins. When I'm standing up and Willow asks me for something, I don't hesitate. It's so much easier to do things when you're already standing. I mean, what's Newton's first law of motion? An object in motion stays in motion / an object at rest stays at rest—especially if that object is kicking back watching Battlestar Galactica in a leather reclining chair, which, as everyone knows, has an abnormally high gravitational pull. Indeed, if I am standing, I will gleefully retrieve a thousand cans of soda in exchange for one when I'm in repose.
But that's the problem with unwritten rules, eh? They're not written. In hindsight, I wish I'd included the Upright Fetch Mandate in our vows: "Do you promise to love one another, in sickness and health, to have and to hold, and to always fetch things if you are standing and the other is sitting? I now pronounce you husband and wife."
And you darn well know that Willow, bless her blotched and blackened soul, is happy to have me running errands for her when she's all comfy and cozy on the couch. And her errands aren't always so quick or easy. Sometimes she has me hoofing to 7-Eleven; other times, I'm rotating her tires. But when I'm the one kicking back in Battlestar Reclinica, and all I want is for her to grab me a goddamn can of ice-cold carbonated cola, and she's standing right next to the G.D. refrigerator, and she gives me this "I'm late for my game, babe" bullshit—well, perhaps you can understand my frustration.
"Oh, c'mon! You're right there! Just grab the can and be done with it," I blurt as she drifts past the fridge pretending not to hear me.
"OK, fine," I say, as I toss a rope and grappling hook around the base of the ceiling fan and slowly hoist my girth out of the recliner like an engine crane hoisting a motor out of a car. "But know this," I say as I walk over to the fridge: "I will never—and I mean never—perform another Upright Fetch favor for you for as long as I live." Then I grab a can of Diet Coke, break the tab, take a long draw to accentuate how serious I am and add, "Unless—."
"Unless what," she asks.
"Unless you meet two conditions: First, you must apologize for not getting me the soda, and, second, you must promise to obey the Upright Fetch Mandate forever more."
Of course, my wife—being as stubborn as an Albanian handkerchief merchant—was underwhelmed. "I will not meet your conditions nor will I ever fetch anything for you ever again. We shall see which one of us breaks first."
"Oh, we'll see, alright," I chuckle confidently, knowing that this woman has the mettle of a high-school cheerleader in a Turkish prison camp. There's no way she'll outlast me. Or so I believed. Because, a few days later, she's on the couch (which has an abnormally intense gravitational pull of its own) and says, with the cutest, most innocentest face possible, "Honey, darling, will you refill my water glass?"
"Oh, sweetie, love of my life," I say and smile, "you know I really want to do that for you, but unless you agree to the following two conditions, I cannot fulfill your request. First you must apolog—."
"Blah, blah, blah. I'll get it myself," she says, and—bam!—in an instant, she springs up from the couch and into the kitchen. I mean, it's amazing. The way she pops up like that—no cranes, no grappling hooks—she just bounds from the couch as if it isn't the plushy energy vampire that we all know it to be.
Oh crap! This is going to be harder than I thought, I thought. And that's where our marriage is now: a full-blown standoff, with neither of us fetching anything for the other—and I mean anything!
"Honey, will you pass me the remote?"
"You know I can't do that, dear."
"Oh, for the bloody scalp of Christ, will you just apologize already?"
"After you, babe."
And so it goes. I'll let you know who breaks first. It may be a while.
Write to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Edwin Decker blogs at www.edwindecker.com. Follow him on Twitter @edwindecker or find him on Facebook.
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