My wife and I had an argument last week. It went something like this:
Me: Hi, sweetie. I’m home. Happy birthday!
Susan: (Watching television) Hi, honey. How was your day?
Me: Fine. How was yours?
Me: Are you ready to go out to dinner?
Susan: Well, sweetheart, if it’s all right with you, I’d rather stay in. I made your favorite dinner: catfish and hush puppies.
Me: Yum yum. That’s so sweet. But wouldn’t you rather go out since it’s your birthday?
Susan: Actually, I’m deep into this TV show. Anderson Cooper is reporting live from the Gulf.
Me: Any new developments?
Susan: Yes, they’ve capped the well, but no one knows if it’s going to work. Everyone’s on pins and needles.
Me: Gee, I hope everything goes okay.
Susan: Me too. Anderson’s report is excellent. He’s very informative, and he seems to care about the people and the marine life.
Me: Great. Well, I’m in no hurry to eat. I’ll wait for you.
Susan: No, go ahead and eat. You’ve had a long day and the show’s pretty long. It’s a special.
Me: Okay. Well, why don’t we eat out tomorrow?
Susan: I’m pretty sure part two of the special is tomorrow. Let’s aim for the weekend, okay?
Me: Okay. (Long pause). Gee, I’ve never seen you so immersed in a TV show. I don’t think we’ve ever organized our plans around TV. Certainly not on a birthday.
Susan: Honey, we’re in our forties. Birthdays aren’t important anymore. At our age, we should be more concerned about the community and the world.
Me: I guess you’re right. Still, eating dinner with your wife is a lot better than eating alone.
Susan: Oh, we eat together all the time. We can always … hold on, sweetie... the commercial’s over... gotta go … there’s plenty of juice in the fridge.
Me: Okay. Thanks. (Goes to kitchen. Eats dinner alone. Returns twenty minutes later.)
Me: Honey, do you have a second?
Susan: Sure, honey. This show has more commercials than show.
Me: So tell me, what makes this show so much better than the others?
Susan: I don’t know. I guess it’s that Anderson is so concerned about what’s happening. It’s not just another news story for him. He feels the tragedy. He’s not overwrought by it, but he’s involved. He’s got a heart, and he cares about what’s going on. He’s a compassionate journalist, not just another suit. He's quite impressive -- and very good at what he does.
Me: Oh my. Well, that’s quite an endorsement. Sounds like Anderson is almost too qualified to do the news.
Susan: And what’s that supposed to mean? You know I don’t like it when you’re sarcastic.
Me: Well, I bet you'd like it if Anderson were sarcastic!
Susan: (Angry) Well, maybe Anderson is too well-adjusted to be sarcastic. Maybe sarcasm is for petty, jealous people!
Me: Oh! So I’m petty and jealous, just because I want to take my wife out to dinner on her birthday?
Susan: No, you’re petty because you’re worried about a TV show instead of appreciating the dinner I made for you!
Me: I’m worried about a TV show? Me? As you may recall, I was the one eating alone; you were the one lusting after Anderson Cooper!
Susan: (Gasps). Are you crazy? Are you totally out of your mind?
Me: No, actually I’m not. And frankly, I don’t mind playing second fiddle to Anderson Cooper as long as I know exactly where I stand.
Susan: Oh really? Okay, I’ll tell you exactly where you stand: You’re a kind and caring man with a loving wife, and if you don’t realize that, then … wait, the commercial’s over … oops, sorry, another commercial … if you don’t realize that, then you need a new pair of glasses.
Me: Oh really? Okay, I’ll call your bluff and raise you: Name one quality I have that Anderson doesn’t.
Susan: This is soooo stupid.
Me: It’s only stupid because you don’t want to answer.
Susan: Okay, okay. I’ll play this stupid, adolescent game if it means that much to you. You have… um…a…
Me: That’s what I thought! I have nothing!
Susan: You’ve got…a… a…wonderful enduring marriage to a woman who loves you.
Me: Oh great. Super. I’ve got “marital endurance.” Well, somebody give me a blue ribbon!
Susan: Did it ever occur to you that some women find “marital endurance” sexy?
Me: Like who?
Susan: Like me.
Me: (Long pause) Really?
Susan: Yes, really.
Me: (Long pause). So… you think I’m sexy?
Susan: I think marital endurance is sexy.
Me: (Softens) Really?
Susan: Yes, really.
Me: (Meekly) Oh… well, okay… all right… well, now I’m feeling kinda silly.
Susan: You should.
Me: And embarrassed.
Susan: You should.
Me: And petty.
Susan: You should.
Me: And… well…(mutters sheepishly) kinda sexy, too.
Susan: (Kisses me on the cheek) You should! Definitely!
Me: Honey, I love you -- and I’m sorry for being such a jerk. I don’t know what came over me. Now I’ve ruined your birthday -- and I feel awful.
Susan: You haven’t ruined my birthday, sweetheart. Besides, my birthday isn’t over yet.
Me: You’re right. It’s not over. Well, I have an idea. Why don’t we watch Anderson Cooper together. Then, when the show’s over, we’ll go to the bedroom and watch Casablanca. What do you say to that?
Susan: That’s a wonderful idea! Your ideas are always wonderful. Now, why don’t you sit down right here beside me so we can watch TV together.
Me: Excellent! (Sits down and puts arm around Susan. Watches TV. Anderson appears. He is broadcasting from the Gulf in a tightly fitted shirt that accentuates his physique. He is well built, but not ostentatiously muscular. His voice has a boyish charm, but his premature gray confers maturity. He is empathetic, but not effete; informative, but not pedantic; firm, but not overbearing. He is “easy on the eyes” and has an androgynous appeal. His baby blue eyes are ignited by the evening light reflected off the Gulf. He is disarming -- 360, and then some.)
Susan: (Kisses me on the cheek) I love you, honey. Thank you for being so understanding.
Me: I love you too, sweetheart. Happy birthday. By the way, have we ever considered going high def?