Yesterday, the missus went to the grocery store. As is her custom, she asked before she left: 'Is there anything special you want me to get?'
She asks because she's nice like that. Sweet girl.
And I never take her up on the offer, because... well, because clearly, I can't.
See, if you've ever been tangled in the web of wedlock, then you know that there's only one important rule to remember about being married. And if you haven't been married, then listen up, dammit. This is good shit, and it'll save you a lot of time sleeping on the couch later on. Here's all you really need to know:
Charlie's First Rule of Marriage: 'At all times, keep the points as even as possible.'
All couples have a point system. Maybe they don't talk about it, or even consciously think about tallying up points, per se, but the system is still there. Each person instinctively 'knows' whether they're ahead or behind in the game, and roughly how many points up or down they are. If you're a guy, then it's almost certainly 'down', and so you need to know how to catch up. But the rules are the same on both sides of the gender coin.
It's very simple, really. Little things bag you a few points. Doing the dishes, or taking out the trash. Not making that face when your spouse mentions your mother-in-law. Yeah, you know the face -- like you've just eaten a cat turd stuffed with lemon rind and used jock straps. That one.
Bigger things get you more points. Buying gifts for no reason, for instance -- but it really has to be for no reason, or you'll be in even bigger trouble. Making a nice dinner would work, too. Surprise parties, that kind of thing. You get the idea.
The key is, 'know' where you're at in the relationship, and make sure the points even out. I've put know in quotes twice now, because -- as we've all seen -- some people have no clue about their point totals. Which invariably means they're deep, deep, deep in the hole when they believe they're not. This is the sort of situation that leads to disagreements. Sometimes involving shouting, or thrown dinner plates, or people with the surname 'Bobbitt'.
To avoid such unpleasantness, I always assume that my wife has many more points than I do. The fact that she actually does doesn't really enter into it -- all I need to know is that I'm lagging behind. Which is why, normally, I cannot make a 'special request' from the grocery store. She's already shopping for us -- now I'm making specific demands? No. I don't think so.
Sometimes I forget myself, though. Yesterday was one of those sometimes. Who knows what happened -- maybe I made the bed, or remembered an anniversary, or actually threw my dirty boxers into the laundry basket instead of on her toothbrush, as usual. Whatever it was, I was apparently giddy and reckless, because I did make a food request when asked. A small one. I'm not one to press my luck, underpantsed toothbrush or no.
I asked for lunchmeat. A specific kind -- strips of chicken in a little package, seasoned with lemon and pepper. We've had it before. It's tasty, it's savory, and it makes plain old bologna taste like week-old ass sweat on cardboard. Okay, 'more like'. If that's possible.
The request hung out there in the air for a bit. It's not a common occurence, and we just stood there for a moment, blinking at each other and wondering what would happen next. Then my wife, secure in her enormous hoard of points, said, 'Okay, sure', and she left.
An hour later, she came back. Bags of groceries, she had. Bags and bags and bags. Milk? Check. Lettuce? Yup. Secret brand underarm antiperspirant? Gotcha. The lunchmeat, with the lemony peppered strips of chickeny goodness? No. What happened, I asked. Her answer:
'Oh. Sorry, I forgot.'
Now, that's just flaunting, dammit. She is so far ahead in the points -- and worse, knows she's ahead -- that she can lose a few by forgetting the lemony pepper chicken things. Which is fine -- we all forget things, now and then. I completely understand that.
But then she told me she forgot! That's just not right. I mean, she could easily have lied, for the sake of points, right? Like:
'Oooh, honey, I looked all over, but I couldn't find them. Sorry!'
Or: 'You know, the store had them, but they were all past the date. You don't want chicken that went bad last October, do you?'
Or even: 'They weren't in the bag? I know I bought them -- you know, maybe the bagger swiped them at the checkout counter. I thought he was just scratching himself, but it's possible he stuffed your lemony chicken down his pants. Ouch.'
And I'd believe those things, too! Not because they're particularly plausible (they're not), or that I'm so gullible (I am), but I have to believe what my wife tells me -- she's got all the points. If I call her on something and get proven wrong, I'm just that much further behind. Better to take everything she says at face value at this point. It's just easier.
Still, I don't appreciate not being lied to. Isn't pretending you remembered things what marriage is all about? It all goes back to making the points even out. And she lost a few yesterday, let me tell you. I don't care how far behind I am -- I am so flinging my undies on her toothbrush in the morning. That'll learn her. And I bet they taste like chicken. Delicious lemony pepper chicken!