By A.H. Watson

There is a class of acquaintance men have, that fit into no regular spot. Invariably, it is in such situations that man can and will - if left to his own devices - commit strange acts.

Women can never understand these acts - but all men will.

Yesterday I was required to attend a memorial service for a man that I knew faintly. We never played golf, drank, told stories, or even chased women together. Our sole bonding took place at the odd Christmas party for the women's bridge club, or a nodding walk-by at the hardware store or the local nursery.

I knew nothing of his faith, his aspirations, or his political philosophy. Indeed, I did not even know if he loved his wife and children; but I expect he did - surely someone must.

Men, I believe, are always apprehensive about memorial services as they are about hospitals, doctors, and even death itself. Things not discussed cannot happen, or if they do happen, they can, by sheer force of will, be directed towards others.

As most men have, I have found this approach to work. The active act of NOT thinking about a subject may even work to make a marriage manageable.

What other approach would allow most men to stay married year on end? as the "little woman" ground one's rock solid manliness into soft putty.

Women love services of any type, the more arcane occasion - the better. I have known women to go to funerals of people they never met - even to dances sponsored by the Society for the Prevention of Viral Colds.

There is no end to the innate urge of women to be seen and heard.

Men have no such problem, and so it was with this service. As we approached, my wife rattled off the name of the wife, the departed husband, the children, and all of the houseguests.

Still zipping my fly and finishing up with the tie, I nodded toward Leigh, not having heard a word; my mind and "inter self" was, quite properly, walking the sixth golf hole with my regular foursome - some five miles away as the crow flies.

If I maintained an open account in heaven for all the hours wasted by the insistence of "arriving early to get a good seat" by my wife - my life would be limitless.

We arrived forty minutes early - at the same time the bereaved family arrived en mass at the parking lot of the beach chapel.

Like a Lemming my wife headed for the poor woman I trapped - followed.

Here in, is the full and complete transcript.

My wife Leigh, gathering the woman in her arms and said, (I am told, as I was, at the time, looking at the daughters legs)

"Shirley, I have had you on my mind all day, I know you are just worn out, it has been such a trying time for you and the family."

"Shirley, I just know Andy wants to say something to you"...and with that Leigh pleasured me with a sharp elbow.

"Well, of course" I stammered, my mind drawing mud...

"Shirl?How's Tom?"

In good novels they write about time stopping; they fix time in place in such a way that you feel as though one can reach through both time and space seize that moment? frozen - forever yours.

Such was that moment in my mind? then, and now.

A pause? then loud shrieks of broken laughter....

Heads turned - set in time - all looking at me.

A fly did a lazy loop on one slowly beating wing...landed on my nose - seemed to smile, and then, I swear - I heard it murmur? "Oh, fuck."

Later I was to learn that there was no fly; at least not seen. But there I stood, in full season, to take the blame.

I do remember the women, fully drawn, the momentary gasp. The "have you really," and the ever-Southern?"Oh dear!" The men - the real men - grinned and shook their heads. The others - you know the ones - the ones you never liked; the libs, the swish, those not sure of themselves or their station in life... they all harrumphed themselves toward the church.

Time slowly returned again. Heavy of feet, I moved to the church.

Inside there was a light murmur a flutter of muted words as the throng inside begins to share my fame.

Ears burning, head hung low? I sat.

There may have been memorial service for Tom that day, but it wasn't at this church, not at this particular time.

No, this man was the best man that had ever lived, kindly, Godly and all the 12 steps to Scout 'Dom. There has never been a finer man I never got to know. But could this have been Tom?

Well, it mattered little, as the whole crowd was busily learning of my transgressions. Randomly you would hear some wife hiss, "Shush, stop giggling."

This funeral was a three-minister affair, and life was good. Not only did they have Tom to mourn, they had me to look at, and shake their head.

Knowing what was in store for me in the 6.1 miles to my house and the safety of my computer room, each moment began to blur. My last clear picture, before we fled to the car, was the family leaving the church as everyone waited in their pew...then they waited and waited ...they, damn their souls, were waiting for me!

I didn't remember all my wife's words in the first tenth of a mile home, but I do remember her first...

"That is the last fucking time you will embarrass me in public, you ass."

"Well, honey - yelling 'fucking', in the parking lot of the church, may give you your OWN little warm spot in the heart of choir? but I doubt that it will insure your desired place in the vestry power structure," I had weakly retorted.

Let me say, it may have taken that Swede longer to reach the South Pole or Perry to fake his.... But it did not take them longer in perceived time, than the remaining six miles to safety for me.

Leigh still comes by the computer room from time to time to yell progressively more disjointed words and thoughts - always ending with? " Oh! The embarrassment of it all."

It may be the vodka.... or hell it could be as she says, "an accumulation of my shit," of which she was tired.

Who knows what lurks in the breast of women these days?

I sneaked a call into Shirley a short while ago, and she said she never laughed so damn hard in her life. That when everybody came by to kick back a few after the service, they all agreed that Tom would have loved it - that it was the best one liner they had ever heard.

Shirley had gone on to say that it took the edge off of the whole, otherwise maudlin affair, and how much they appreciated it ? that it took a brave and secure person to fun around at a time like that. Sam evidently thought it was one of my better traits!

Needless to say I didn't bother to correct her misunderstanding. I told her to tell Leigh what she had just told me, if she got a chance.

Shirley said, that she had told Leigh that last night ? when Leigh had called to apologize for having married such a beast ? then turn him loose on the public!

You just can't beat women at their own game...whoever said that you could? was surely never married.

2007 A.H. Watson, all rights reserved.

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