Friday, December 17, 1999
about wives' unanswerable questions: Practice, practice
practice and still fail
By DAVID EPPS
My wife and I had just attended the funeral of someone we had known for years. The person died unexpectedly and, when something like that happens, the people left behind often begin to ponder the great questions of life.
I suppose that's what was happening with my wife when she turned to me in the car on the way home and said, David, if something happened to me, would you remarry?
Now, there are some questions for which there is no right answer. No matter what answer you give, you are doomed. This was one of those times.
Cindy and I have been married over 28 years. I was 20 and she was 19 when we walked the green mile together. Not one of our friends or family members ever thought we'd make it past the first five years. We struggled against great odds and, somehow, prevailed. I can't imagine life without her, so I never think about the question she asked in the car that day.
The question had been asked before through the years and I had, as people of dim wit are prone to do, attempted to answer the unanswerable question. In the past, I had answered, No, honey, I can't imagine being married to anyone else. That is not the correct answer.
Well, why not? Is marriage to me so bad that you're soured on the whole concept? Strike one.
I should add, at this point, that, after 28 years of marriage, I'm just as confused about women as I was when I had my first date and did and said all the wrong things. Women are like God. They are knowable yet remain largely unknown. Their ways are not your ways. Women, like God, remain a mystery.
An elderly man once confided in me, Son, it takes at least 20 years for men to learn the rules. And then, after 20 years, I'll be danged if they don't go and change the rules!
Later, when the question was asked again, believing myself to be older and wiser, my response was, You know, I've thought about that question and after due consideration, I think I would probably remarry if something happened to you. Again, that is not the correct answer.
So, says she, you've been thinking about being with someone else for the rest of your life... got anybody in mind? Strike two.
So, here the question was again. But this time, I had considered the question for years, searching for the right answer should the question arise again.
You, know honey, I began, life with you has been so wonderful, so grand, that, if something happened to you, I would probably consider remarriage at some point in time, if for no other reason, to recapture some of the joy that we have shared.
She was quiet a moment and I knew that a follow-up question was coming. In fact, I was so certain that I knew what the question would be that I had already formed the answer. And what kind of person do you think you'd marry? she asked sweetly.
Why, dear, I would marry a person that was just like the first girl I married.
She smiled ever so briefly, then inquired, And what kind of person would that be?
Why, I replied, I'd marry a 19-year-old. After all, I reasoned, it worked so well the first time, why not try it again?
The warm day began to grow icy cold and the storm clouds began to roll in.
Oh, really, she said slowly, her voice laced with just the slightest bit of venom. And you think you could get a 19-year-old to marry YOU?
Well, let's consider the facts, I said. When you were 19, I had no steady job, no education, no home, no car, no money, no career, no future, and no stability. You married me anyway. Now I have a career, a house, a couple of degrees, some money in the bank, a good car, a good reputation, a great future and I have some measure of stability. So, yeah, I think probably a 19-year-old would marry me. Heck, it would probably be easy!
Strike three, end of inning, end of game, season over.
Now, I know what you're thinking. What a moron! But you see, when you keep getting the unanswerable questions, and you finally realize there are no right answers, you may as well have some fun when giving the wrong answers. And, if you're lucky, if your answer is wrong enough, maybe just maybe the unanswerable question will not come up again.
[Father David Epps is rector of Christ the King Charismatic Episcopal Church which meets at 10 a.m. Sundays in the Carmichael-Hemperley chapel on Ga. Highway 74 in Peachtree City. He may be contacted online at FatherDavidEpps@aol.com.]