If my column isn’t particularly funny this week, I have no one to blame but my wife. I have always depended on Mary Ellen to in some way annoy, befuddle, confound or mock me, thus leading me to my inevitable outburst: “That’s my next column.”Mary Ellen has been a trooper. She has complained about my napping, my sense of direction and my messiness. She’s told me how scatter-brained I am, and how sloppy. Every week I depend on her. She is my rock. She is the well I go to when I need an idea.
But this week, the well dried up.I thought there was potential the other day when we were deciding on a movie to watch on Netflix later in the evening. “Oh, this will be rich,” I said to myself. She’s going to pick out a chick flick and she’ll make me sit through it with her. Just think of the possibilities. The column was half written in my head when she said “How about this one, Dick? ‘Caddyshack’.”“What are you talking about? That’s a horrible selection. How about a movie with all character and no plot? Or subtitles? Maybe a documentary on where they film ‘Downton Abbey’? Or a film that has exquisite cinematography and absolutely nothing happens for the first two hours?”“No, let’s go with Caddyshack. We’ll both enjoy that one.”“No, no we won’t. It will ruin everything. I’ve got a deadline.”I panicked at first, but the evening was young. We still hadn’t made a decision about where to have dinner. My wife usually steers clear of fast food, but I like it, because I’m pretty tight with a buck. Then she calls me cheap. Great columns are made from this very conflict.“Okay, Dick. Let’s grab a bite.”“Yes, I’m starving. How about Steak ‘n Shake?”“Sounds good. I’m in the mood for a burger.”“No, no you’re not in the mood for a burger. You’re in the mood for a good steak, or a market-priced lobster. Come on. Work with me. Call me a tightwad. I’ve got a column due in the morning.”“Nah, a burger sounds fine. But first, I need to stop at DSW for a few minutes and get a pair of snow boots. It won’t take long.”Saved! This would take her at least two hours. I could write about being able to fill out my entire 2014 tax return while she shopped for shoes. Oh, this had the potential for some really funny stuff.“Hi, Dick, I’m back.”“You’ve only been gone 10 minutes. You’re killing me.”“I know. I saw exactly what I wanted as soon as I walked in the door.”“No, no. You have to try on lots of shoes. Then you’ll come out to the car with four pairs and when we get home you’ll try them all on and ask which ones I like and you won’t pay any attention to my opinion, anyway. Please, help me out here.”“You know, Dick. I’m on to you. You want me to behave in a certain way so you’ll have an idea for a column. Without me, you are an empty shell, a man devoid of original ideas, a writer without a thought in your head.”“Oh, thank you, thank you. I was afraid I was never going to make that deadline.”