Andy Stone: Scenes from a marriage: In the event of a water landing
“Gangway!” I shouted to my wife. “Coming through!”
She was brushing her teeth, I was heading for the shower. I was … let’s see … how can I put this delicately, without conjuring up images
that will haunt you all for the rest of your lives? Without using words unsuitable for a family newspaper, words like “n*ked.” OK. I wouldn’t have been wearing anything but a towel – if I’d been wearing a towel.
My wife pressed herself flat against the wall, as if I were a whole lot larger than I am (even though I am certainly a whole lot larger than I ought to be).
“Fat man walking!” she called out, a parody of the cry that goes out on Death Row when a condemned man heads for the death chamber.
This is what passes for humor in our house.
Naturally, I had my answer ready. As many married couples do, we have our call and response routines down to an art. In a slightly stilted, formal tone of voice – as if I were making a public announcement – I said, “Remember, in the unlikely event of a water landing …”
“Stop it!” shrieked my wife.
My response referred back to a day when we had just ended a series of plane flights on our way back from a vacation. We were safe at home at last, trying to relax from the the after-effects of surviving for an entire day on nothing but the little bags of fake pretzels that the airlines now serve in place of food.
My wife had looked at herself in the mirror and asked – as almost all women will ask from time to time – “Do you think my butt looks big?”
And, instead of reassuring her, I had decided – as some really stupid men will decide from time to time – to tease her instead. Even now I can’t believe I was that stupid.
Staring at my wife’s rear, I quoted the announcement we’d been hearing over and over from stewardesses. “Remember, in the unlikely event of a water landing, your seat cushion can be used for a flotation device.”
My wife gave a yelp of pain and then, fortunately, decided it was funny. So we’re still married.
And the comment has become a part of our marriage.
My wife and I tease each other a lot about being fat.
My wife gets to tease me about being fat because … well, you know, I’m fat.
I think I get to tease her about it because – as everybody who knows my wife will tell you – she is very definitely NOT fat. Got that? NOT fat. NOT!
My wife’s problem is that she works out too much. She goes to the gym. She goes to yoga classes. She works out with videotapes at home.
The result is that she’s extremely fit – and she thinks of herself as overweight and out of shape because she spend hours staring at aerobic instructors, yoga teachers and those freakish androids who star on exercise videos.
If I spent all my time studying calculus, I’d think I was stupid. My wife spends all her time working out, so she thinks she’s fat.
What makes it worse is that she also loves to look through women’s magazines, which are filled with pictures of supermodels – anorexic women with breast implants.
(And, by the way, I bet those breast implants would make dandy flotation devices. Nonetheless, you never hear the stewardess instruct passengers that, “In the unlikely event of a water landing, proceed to the First Class cabin and grab a supermodel. Don’t worry, they are already inflated. Just slip your arms through the bra straps and …” Nope, you never hear that, do you?)
On the other hand, it was an article in one of those women’s magazines that showed us how to take direct action to solve this “fat” problem of ours.
The article was about people and their pets.
The writer’s point was, of course (as it always is), that overweight people are overweight because they’re lazy.
(And, by the way, just for the record, I’m not fat because I’m lazy. I’m fat because I’m greedy. Thank you.)
The story was filled with disparaging comments about “fat people and their fat pets.”
The argument was that those lazy fat people never get any exercise, so their pets never get any exercise … and therefore the pets, like the people, are fat.
And right then we realized exactly how we could feel better about our own situation.
We stopped feeding our dog.
He whines a lot, but he’s skinny.
So … we must be skinny too!
[Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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COVID-19, along with other stressors, has led to an increase in domestic violence, and area nonprofits want anyone who needs help to know they are available.