Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All you need is Love, A Trifle

“Sally Ann, do you have any idea how much I love you? . . . Sally? . . . could you put that book down and listen? . . . the apple too?”

“Must I, Sidney,” she said without putting anything down?  In fact, one of her eyebrows went up.

“Come on Sal.  This is important.  I want your undivided attention.”

“Before I give that to you, I’d like some assurance you are going to be more explicit than the last time we had this phenomenon.”

Sidney threw up his hands in exasperation. 

“Don’t do that, Sidney.  I’m not a dumb blond.”

“I never thought you were – far, far from it as everyone knows.”

“Then don’t do that.  I’m not a bimbo either.”

“Good grief, Sal.  What would put such an idea in your mind?  It was never in mine.  I came home full of love for my gorgeous wife and you are breaking the spell.  If I weren’t so excited and full of explanation, I wouldn’t be able to go on.”

“Are you fuller than the last time, because last time you were more drunk than explanatory?”

“I’ve only had two little drinks, and I’m far below .08% which is the legal driving limit.  If I’m good enough to drive, I’m good enough to tell my wife I love her.”

“Very well.  I’m listening,” Sally said, going back to her book.

“What happened to the hot and fiery Sally Ann I married six years ago?”

“I don’t know.  Is she the one you are going to express your love to or is it this one here with the book in her lap,” she asked, smiling up at him around the apple she held in her teeth?

Sidney shook his head and walked over to the liquor cabinet.  “I’m going to have a scotch and water.  Do you want something?”

“Maybe.  What wine goes with apple?”

“Oh I don’t know.  Madeira or Port ought to go pretty well, or maybe one of your Greek wines -- Retsina maybe.”

“Okay, bring me a glass of Retsina.”

“We don’t have any.”

“Well, why offer it to me?”

“I didn’t.  You asked what wine went with apple, and I don’t really know.  We don’t have any Port or Madeira either.  We’ve got some Sherry.  Do you want some of that?”

“Oh Sidney!  Just let me eat my apple and read my book.  I don’t want anything to drink.”

“Nor to hear how much I love you, I take it.”

“Sidney, Sidney,” she said, turning a page.  “You don’t know how much you love me.”

“Of course I do.”

“Then why did you ask me?”

“That question was rhetorical as you know perfectly well,” he said testily.

“Is that a bit of anger I hear, dear Sidney,” she asked turning toward him with eyes wide in mock horror?

“Disappointment, Sally Ann – that your mood doesn’t match mine.”

“What do you expect?  It’s two, going on three scotch and waters shy.”

“The scotch has nothing to do with my moods as you well know.”

“Oh, I know, Sidney.  Calm down.  But your depressive moods seem a little easier to handle than your manic ones.”

“Come on, Sally.  Be nice.   I’m not manic-depressive and you know it.  I’m just a devoted husband who loves his wife.”

“His bimbo wife.”

“Not true.”

“His trophy wife?”

“I might agree to that.”

“Well there you go then.  One does not love a trophy. One possesses it.  You win it and put it on the mantle or hang it on the wall.  See there, you say to your friend.  That was my last duchess, and then you go on to tell him how you had her killed.”

“That’s not an example I would use.  I prefer “How shall I love thee, let me count the ways . . .”

“I’ll bet that’s all you know.  You don’t know a single way that she loved her husband, do you?  If you had to write that poem you would write ‘do you know how many ways I love thee’ and hope I came up with a few.”

“You are being exasperating, Sally Ann.”

“Okay that’s one.  Keep going.”

Sidney shook his head and then brightened.  “Is Jimmy asleep?”

“Okay, that’s another.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your asking if our son is asleep implies rather obviously that you love me in bed.  That’s another.  Keep going.”

Sidney shook his head again.  “You know there was a time I could have had my pick of bimbos.  Why did I have to pick one with brains?”

“Ah.  That’s bad: a step backward.  Two steps forward and one step back.  I think Lenin wrote a pamphlet with that title.”

“Maybe I’ll go see if there’s a ball game or a boxing match on.  This conversation isn’t at all going the way I wanted it to.”

“Maybe I was the one who married a bimbo, Sid.  You are awfully cute, especially when you’re mad: that neat little blond haircut suits you really well.  And I love that little mustache of yours, and that crinkly-eyes smile you do when you are smiling, which doesn’t happen to be now.  And those dreamy eyelashes. . . .”

“Are you counting the ways?”

“Why not?  You seem to have run down.  In fact you are going backwards.  I thought I might as well start on a list of my own . . . which by the way is longer than yours.”

“But you don’t want to go to bed now?”

“I never said that.  You did.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Who just announced he was going into the other room to watch a boxing match – or some other mindless male sports drivel?”

“Only because you weren’t in the mood.”

“In the mood to count ways?  Sure I am.”

“In the mood to go to bed.”

“Ah.  Now it comes out.  That ‘do you know how much I love you’ was baloney – a pretense – a primitive excuse for foreplay – in short, a lie.”

“It wasn’t a lie.”

“Oh no?  Let’s roll this conversation back to the beginning then.  You have just walked in.  Your face is ruddy from two scotch and waters and you produce your momentous cliché, ‘do you know how much I love you’?  You ask me that despite my well-known hatred of clichés, but let’s skip past that and whatever I actually did say and start over.  I bat my eyelashes at you fetchingly and say, ‘no, Sidney.  How much do you love me?  And you say . . . that’s your cue, Sid.  You say . . . .”

“I say you are sounding a bit like Elizabeth Taylor at the moment.”

“Good.  Then here’s your chance to sound like Richard Burton.”

“Did they end up in bed in that movie?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then I’ll pass.”

“Would you rather be witty and clever or make love?”

“Make love.”


“Philistines need loving too.”

“Not Philistines who use clichés.”

“Everyone uses clichés.”

“Not when trying to tell your trophy wife how much you like seeing her hanging on the wall.”

“I never meant you were merely a trophy wife.  You require far more attention than an ordinary trophy wife would.”

“Ouch.  Another step backward.  Unless I’ve missed count that’s two steps forward and four steps back.  Next time you’re in such a loving mood, you might consider staying late for work, or perhaps having two less scotch and waters.”

“I only had two.”


Sidney threw his head back and sighed.  Then he leaned forward and asked, “how was your day at the University.”

“Not good.  No one is interested in the classics anymore.  They don’t know the difference between Salamis and Salami, Boeotia and baloney.  They think it’s all baloney.”

“Ah ha.  You had a bad day.”

“Of course I had a bad day.  Any normally sensitive husband could have sensed that rather than rattling on out of his scotch and waters.  Every day is a bad day if you’re trying to interest modern air-heads in something that happened prior to Elvis.  They are interested in the latest music and the latest clothes.  The only people they care about are singers, actresses and actors.  No one would have signed up for my class if they didn’t think I was hot.”

“Greeks loved beauty.”

“That’s a fallacy my dear Sidney.”

“How so?”

“The Greeks loved beauty.  My air-heads loved beauty.  Therefore my air-heads are in some way like the Greeks.  They aren’t.”

“Come on, Sally.  The Greeks weren’t like the Greeks.”

“She gave him a withering look.  “That statement is vacuous.”
“Only a tiny percentage did anything worthwhile.  The rest were farmers, hoplites or pulled an oar on some trireme.”

That argument won’t wash Sid.  Not everyone in the Elizabethan period was a Shakespeare, but they flocked to the Globe to watch his plays.  That is why we call it a period.  The same is true of Periclean Greece.   Also, those Spartans had something that is sadly missing in this modern age where no one believes in anything.”

“Spartans plural?  Don’t you mean a few like Leonidas?”

“No I don’t.  Leonidas wasn’t by himself at Thermopylae.  There were 299 others with him.”



“I Read that two of the 300 were sick so Leonidas made them stay in Sparta.”

“So what, Sid,” she said, raising her voice?

“Nothing.  Nothing at all.  You seemed to be in a mood for being accurate.  I thought you would appreciate the correction.”

“Well I don’t.  It is what they did not whether there were exactly 300 or not.  Even when the Persians started killing them off they were referred to as the 300.  That was a magnificent time: from the Persian war all the way through the Peloponnesian war and beyond.  It wasn’t until Alexander full of scotch and water set about outdoing Philip that everything was ruined, well not totally  ruined.  A lot was saved.  We have quite a lot from that period and we can learn from it.  We ought to be willing to learn.”

She got a beautifully sad expression on her face.  Sidney couldn’t resist sitting down and putting his arm around her.  She nestled her head in his shoulder and cried.   When she finally subsided, he whispered, “want to go to bed?”

She bit his ear gently and whispered back, “I thought you’d never ask.”

“Isn’t that a cliché, dear,” he asked?

She socked him on the shoulder -- but not too hard.

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