In our never-ending marital “told you so!” competition, my wife beat me two to one last night. We went to see “Fahrenheit 9/11” at Movieland in downtown Salem, and as the 7:45 pm showing time grew near I told Laurel that we should leave earlier than usual, since the movie was proving to be hugely popular among die-hard liberals—who, like almost everyone, love to be exposed to communications that confirm existing strongly held beliefs.
Drawing myself up to the full height of my Alpha Male Head of Household Kingly Dominant position in our relationship, about 6:45 I emphatically decreed with my most authoritative masculine tone of voice that we had to leave by 7:15 at the absolute latest. Of course, this proclamation had the usual effect: at the exact time I had said we should be in the car, Laurel slowly pushed her chair back from the table at which she had been leisurely eating a bowl of curry, and languorously went into the bedroom to change. And then, with equal calm, into the bathroom to put on makeup.
I walked around in the living room, making loud jingling sounds with my keys as I muttered, “Any time you’re ready…any time…we should have left by now.” “It’s Wednesday,” I heard in reply. “There won’t be many people at the show.”
I memorized Laurel’s words so I could repeat them back to her at an appropriate moment, which turned out to be at 7:48 as we stood at the rear of a darkened theatre looking at the backs of many, many heads. I don’t like to sit close to the screen, but last night our walk down the aisle to the front of the theatre was triumphal for me. I don’t think I ever said “told you so!” Didn’t need to. The looming-ever-larger screen did my speaking for me.
It was great to see so many Salemites out mid-week for this Bush-bashing film. Of course, what else is there to do in the evening in Salem but go to the movies? (Answer: stay at home and watch TV). From our fifth-row seats we enjoyed listening to the frequent laughs and catcalls as Michael Moore exposed some fresh idiocy of George W. and his administration. At the end of the movie there was healthy applause, a good sign for Kerry’s chances I think, as his liberal base certainly is getting fired up from “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
So did our dog. Which led to Laurel tying me in the “told you so!” sweepstakes upon our return to the car. Serena had been left alone in her outdoor fenced kennel for most of the afternoon, so I felt sorry for her and insisted that she’d be happier coming along with us to the movie. Well, more accurately to the parking garage. Before we left Laurel said that it was too warm a day to leave a dog in the car. I assured her that Serena would be just fine in a shadowy parking garage with the windows in our Prius rolled down a inch or so.
And as we walked back to the car I could see, from some distance away, that Serena indeed was fine, if by fine you mean “standing up in the rear compartment, panting with her tongue hanging out of her mouth, a ‘Someone Save Me!’ expression on her face.” Given this admittedly arguable definition of “fine” I guess I could see why Laurel rattled off a few emphatic “told you so!”s when we got the rear hatch unlocked and felt a rush of warm interior air.
Hey, I’ve never had a physics class. How was I supposed to judge the convective balance between the outflowing body heat of a mildly overweight dog and the inflowing air from mildly lowered windows? And after sucking down what was left in a water bottle Laurel had (thankfully) left in the car, Serena’s tongue retracted to its normal non-panting position, none the worse for wear.
I still was plagued by a mild case of guilt, however. And I am the Driver of the Car when Laurel and I travel together (I also am the Remote Control Holder, these two unexalted titles being bones that Laurel throws to my masculine self to chew on, thus helping to disguise the power that she wields over every other aspect of our marriage). So I lowered the left rear window so Serena could stick her head out and inhale the wondrous odors of downtown Salem while further lowering her body temperature.
This was a fatal error, as it broke the tie. As soon as Serena’s nose passed beyond the vertical boundary of the window glass I heard, “Haven’t I told you that it is dangerous to let dogs stick their head out? Stuff can get in their eyes. Do you want me to call the vet and have her talk to you, or do you believe me?” “Yes,” I softly replied, hastily putting the window up to less than dog nose width. “I believe you.”
That’s what I said outwardly. Inside my head the Husband-Wife scoreboard was brightly flashing the evening’s final “told you so!” score: Brian 1, Laurel 2. “Damn! Another loss!” I reviewed my unsuccessful game plan and made mental notes about where scoring opportunities could be found in the future. Tomorrow is another day. Win some, lose some. Well, for me as for most men it’s “win some, lose many.” Women simply play the game too well—not a fair competition at all.