Sometimes the key to being a husband is realizing that you can't win.
Not to say that you never win. It's just that some situations, maritally speaking, are entirely impossible to navigate. Like, most of the ones that occur while you're conscious and within loud shouting distance of your wife.
Take tomorrow, for instance. Tomorrow, I was scheduled to accompany my lovely wife to a classical music concert in the afternoon. She asked if I'd attend, and I said I would. Most of these concerts, she goes to with a friend of hers -- they make it into a "girls' afternoon out" with dinner or tea or cucumber sandwiches or lingerie pillow fights, or whatever the hell girls do when they're out together.
"Of course, I'd be happy to accompany you to the concert / ballet / formal ball / family reunion / proctology exam, honey -- why, what sort of husband would I be if I weren't thrilled to pink little bits about this electrifying event?"
(Besides brainstorming up ways to make sure the husbands never win. Clearly, that's agenda item number one.)
This time, though, the missus gave me the opportunity to do the right thing -- which involves snoozing next to her in a stuffy concert hall filled with octogenarian viola buffs, apparently -- so I did. Of course, I'd be happy to accompany you to the concert/ballet/formal ball/family reunion/proctology exam, honey -- why, what sort of husband would I be if I weren't thrilled to pink little bits about this electrifying event?
(It's possible I lay it on a little thick sometimes. Just possible.)
Also, I chose my moment wisely. Tomorrow's concert features Vivaldi's Four Seasons, which I don't hate.
(Not like one of those Haydn nightmares -- am I right, fellas? Hoo boy, am I right?)
So I was all prepared -- read: 'steeled' or 'resigned', if you like, married dudes -- to slap on a pair of khakis and a socially acceptable shirt and schlep downtown for a musical tour through the calendar, courtesy of some ginger Italian dude from the 18th century. Because that's how you spend a Sunday afternoon, kids.
That's not how you spend a Sunday afternoon when your buddy has tickets to the AFC Championship game, one of which has your name on it.
(Provided you have a check to cover the ticket that has his name on it, of course. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Or a comp playoff ticket.)
And so, as the schedule turned, I'll be attending Foxboro Stadium tomorrow afternoon, and not Symphony Hall downtown. There'll still be music, but otherwise the two events are pretty dissimilar. There'll be only one season in effect at the game -- low-down ass-cold winter. I'll trade my khakis for two pairs of pants and thermal undercarriage warmers. And while the intermission wine selection is probably better at the concert hall -- who serves shiraz after the wildcard round these days, anyway? -- I'm happy enough to stick with beer, pretzels and the occasional ballpark hoagie.
I should point out here that my invitation to the game was not a surprise, nor an eleventh-hour occurrence. My friend had clearly stated -- and I'd relayed along to the wifely authorities -- that if the Patriots made the AFC title game, my ticket was stamped to watch it. Weeks ago, the possibility was there. Just like weeks ago -- and who can remember which came first, really? -- the Vivaldi plan was established. These were separate events, with separate timelines. None of us realized the schedules would collide as they did; it just happened that way. Pure chance. Circumstance. Dumb luck.
My wife understands this. She doesn't blame me for going to the game. But does that mean I win -- that I get full, or even partial, marriage points for innocently agreeing to go in the first place, though the tempestuous winds of fate cruelly drove me away?
No. I emphatically do not get points -- I'm told, in no uncertain terms -- for this whole debacle, because I secretly didn't want to go to the concert in the first place.
But honey, I did want to go. Honest.
Hey, I was planning to go. I can't help the schedule.
"Right. Reeeeeeal lucky for you."
Well, it's Vivaldi. I like Vivaldi. Comparatively.
"Oh, you wouldn't know Vivaldi from a vivisection. Bah!"
That's when I know I'm cooked. You get the 'humph', you're done. So I said I was sorry, salvaged what I could, forfeited ALL the points I thought I was earning by agreeing to go... and started picking out Belichick homage hoodies to wear for tomorrow.
Hey, I'm not getting any points this weekend. I can at least stay warm out there.
So my wife will be humming to Vivaldi tomorrow with her usual concert friend, and I'll be cheering in the frigid cold down at Foxboro. That's not how I planned it to happen. It's not how I thought it would happen. But there it is. Football up. Concert down. Points unceremoniously subtracted from the marriage total.
And no winning. Here's hoping that's the only loss I have to sit through in the next twenty-four hours. The very last thing a married guy wants is to find himself wishing he were at the thing that he was getting points for, but got out of for something else that seemed better, and lost all the points in the process. That's the worst.
And if you didn't understand that last bit, go find yourself a sweetheart and tie the knot. It'll clear up soon enough.