In the 1970s, I visited a friend of mine who was married and who had two infant children. I was a little in awe of him that he could start a household so young.
While we sat talking in his living room, the phone rang.
“That’s for me,” said his wife, springing to her feet and dashing to the next room to answer the call.
“Hello?” I heard her say. “Hi, Flash, this is Skipper. I’m getting discouraged. I need a pep talk. Okay.”
My friend’s wife was not named “Skipper.” I gave my friend a quizzical look.
“She’s playing ‘Airplane,’” my friend said, explaining quite frankly that this was a pyramid scheme wherein the “players” sold first seats, then sections, then entire flights on an imaginary airplane — but had to buy those seats, sections, and flights first. At the end, when you had assembled a “flight,” you were supposed to receive a tremendous payoff from all the prior players. Huge checks were supposed to start arriving in the mail.
“Airplane,” it turns out, had swept Southern California at about that time and had even been the subject of a number of newspaper reports. I wondered at my friend’s wife’s participation. Pyramid schemes were illegal. And I knew they couldn’t afford to pay out money they’d never see again.
To that point, my friend said, the game had cost them $600. My friend’s wife knew full well it was illegal — that’s why the pseudonyms for game players — but had bought in anyway. She had also bought the con, a fact my friend, who was a newspaper reporter himself, knew all too well.
“Why don’t you stop her?” I asked.
My friend explained to me that when you were married, there were certain things you did not do.
THIS STORY CAME TO MIND because, while we were cleaning up dinner leavings the other night, I heard my wife explaining to our son Bud what the secret was of having a good marriage.
“You have to learn how to say, ‘Yes, dear,’” she said.
New paint scheme for the living room? “Yes, dear.” “I think I’d like to take up fly fishing”? “Yes, dear.” Dave Barry wrote a whole column about his wife’s forbearance when he decided to take up electric guitar in mid-life. Archie Bunker made a joke out of Edith’s going through menopause, but, if you stay married long enough through the appropriate age, you will find out it’s no joke.
So what is the import of “Yes, dear”? The wedding vows go on about such things as “in sickness and in health,” but you do not really know what that means until, two years after your marriage to a perky young Midwestern girl, she is felled by polio, and must spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. That woman, my mother’s cousin, just died this past spring, almost 80 years old. Her husband had died just a few years before — still her husband.
You say, “Yes, dear” not only to your spouse but to God who dispenses all things and sometimes hands out inexplicable suffering. You say, “Yes, dear” to blessings, like windfall salary increases or lottery winnings, and you share without a thought.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?