The Meaning of Marriage

My friend Tom is one hell of a guy. He is also the funniest person I know. In a totally weird way. When the Beautiful AP and I first met Tom and his lovely wife Martine in Cape May, I was thrown by some of the things he said. I couldn’t figure if he was being humorous or out of his mind.

Let me give you a recent example. The four of us were eating lunch at the Mad Batter Restaurant in Cape May. By this time our friendship was sealed tightly and I knew he was outrageously funny. I also knew that most people didn’t get his humor, especially at first, and they would look at him aslant.

The server was taking our order. My wife the Beautiful AP and I ordered our usual, the orange-almond French toast, Martine ordered a salad and Tom then put in his order: “Can I have the salad that she’s having but I want salmon as well. I’d like some toast with butter on the side.”

“Okay, sir,” said the server.

“Wait, wait,” said Tom. “Now it is very important that there is no salt put on anything.”

“No salt,” the server nodded.

“Maybe write it on the order form so the chef knows no salt. I have dangerously high blood pressure.”

The server nodded, “Okay,” she wrote down the “no salt” instructions. “There we go, sir!”

“And I’ll have some ice tea, no sugar,” said the Beautiful AP.

“I’ll have just plain water,” said Martine.

“Water is fine for me,” said Tom. “Make it two glasses, large ones.”

“Seltzer for me,” I said.

“Okay,” said the server. “Let me just repeat the orders.” And she did. She finished with, “And no salt for you sir.”

Later, the server placed the orders in front of us. Tom looked at her as she put his order down, “No salt in this right?”

“Yes, sir, no salt,” she smiled. She had served the four of us many times before and we were good tippers so she was happy to serve us again.

“Everything fine?” she asked happily.

We all nodded. Tom smiled then reached across the table, grabbed the salt shaker and poured salt over his entire meal! You could see salt crystals on top of salt crystals all over everything. “Ah, looks great,” he said and dug into his food.

During this pandemic Tom and I have a special day and a special time each week when we talk for about an hour on Zoom. Tom is the head of a giant non-profit Jewish organization that he nursed from an almost storefront level 40 years ago and made it a big player for seniors of every religion and race that employed people from every religion and race. The man is—in my opinion—admirable.

But he is not perfect.

On our last call, Tom said, “Scobe, I made a big mistake with Martine yesterday. I’m in trouble. I’ve been working seven days a week the last couple of months and she told me not to do any cleaning this weekend. I’m just to relax. But you know I like a clean house (he does) and I do some cleaning on the weekends. I’m not crazy about it (he’s not) but the upstairs bathroom needed to be clean; the shower, the floor, sinks, you get me (I got him).”

“So you told her you were going to clean?”

“No, that’s the problem. I told her I was going upstairs to take a shower. I snuck Mr. Clean and a roll of Bounty paper towels with me. So I took a shower and then I spritzed the shower with Mr. Clean and wiped everything down with the Bounty paper towels. I cleaned everything in the bathroom. Then I heard her outside the door.

“’You okay?’ she asked.  ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,’ I said. ‘I was just enjoying a nice hot shower’”

I jumped in. “You know Tom, you are a disgrace to the male sex. You should have trained Martine to let you do all the cleaning.”

“Very funny,” he said.

“We’re not talking about me, Tom. This is about you. If you want to clean, then she should let you clean. I mean you’re the man, Tom; act like a man. Demand that she let you clean.”

“I kept cleaning throughout the day, Scobe; here and there, when she was out gardening or cooking. I just want a clean house.”

“Doesn’t she do any cleaning?”

“Yeah, but she’s French and they use rags. It takes forever. She dips the rag, cleans a little, then cleans the rag and then dips the rag again and cleans a little more. It takes three times longer than it takes me. I just use Mr. Clean and Bounty and it is really fast. Spray and wipe. Spray and wipe. Spray and wipe. It’s over, just like that. Then I go read.”

(Tom and Martine do not have a television set. They read. Tom will read books and the newspapers online. Martine reads books in French.)

“You do realize that you are sneaking around Martine because you don’t want her to catch you,” I said.

“I know that,” he said.

“Your problem is that you are married. You have just explained the real definition of marriage. It’s not anything Shakespeare wrote or any of the flowery cards from Hallmark. No, it is you sneaking around in your own house wanting to clean but being afraid of your wife. That’s the true definition of marriage.”

“I suppose you’re right,” he said. Tom paused and took a deep breath and then he said: “Martine is putting salt in my wounds and, you know, I hate salt.”

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, and bookstores. Receive Frank’s articles in your email.

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