Take 20 words chosen at random. Put them in a bowl. Draw one, and write something about it.
Simple? Maybe not.
The charge was this: Failure to perform household duties as hinted by wife.
My plea: Guilty as charged.
My sentence: To be pronounced within the next few hours.
I couldn’t really plead “not guilty” to the crime. The evidence, a dog-hair reinforced dust bunny big enough to be a trip hazard, was right there, under the chair, exactly where it had been identified about an hour earlier. Numerous lesser associates of the bunny in question also remained, unmoved, at their common gathering places throughout the living and dining rooms.
I was aware of what had been implied when my birthday-celebrating wife announced the super-bunny’s presence as she prepared to head for her Sunday church service. I had even acknowledged the creature in a “yes, that’s a really nice one” sort of way.
In the back of my mind, I planned to remove the bunny and his buddies before she returned. The thing is, she was correct in her assumption that I wanted to finish a recorded TV program I had started watching the previous night. I had shrewdly calculated that I could put that task at the top of my priority list and still have plenty of time to round up the Dust Bunny Gang before she returned. Generally speaking, a church service takes about an hour, plus another hour for money-counting and a side trip to the supermarket on the way home. I had plenty of time.
When my wife returned unexpectedly early, I froze in my position on the couch. I was not oblivious to her ire and glares in my direction and at the dust bunny, who seemed to wink at me and my predicament. Being oblivious, however, is a handy survival skill husbands develop early in a successful marriage. In as much as she already had the sweeper in hand and was grumpily attacking the bunny, I remained seated and felt grateful that the sweeper was not being used on me instead.
I recalled what my drill instructor had said to me during Navy boot camp training so many years ago when talking about synchronous rifle exercises: “If you’re wrong, stay wrong.” Getting into the right position, after everyone else in the company had stopped moving, only called attention to your error. I kept my position on the couch as I mused about what my punishment might be.
I didn’t have long to wait. We had planned to look at new beds that afternoon. (Yay!) What I had not anticipated was spending 9 hours watching my wife try out different mattresses — over and over and over — as she attempted to discern their subtle differences. In the end, we left without making a purchase, but the saga will be continued.
The episode reminded me of what we both now refer to as “The Punishment Tour.” Back in our early courtship days, while we were still in the process of getting to know the various quirks of our personalities, I made the mistake of being a little too glib about something she said. That was the first time I got the extended silent treatment, but the punishment for my crime was not to end there.
The following day, we embarked on “The Punishment Tour,” in which we spent endless hours going from shop to shop, no make that “shoppe to shoppe,” in a tourist town. As I recall, no actual purchases were made on that occasion, either.
Punishing the guilty is never really about buying anything.