Not every wife is interested in her husband’s explanation of why he screwed up, but I say every man deserves a hearing.
Once or twice a year I go to Truckee to visit my son Keaton, who lives and works there, next to a clear, sparkling lake.
Truckee-Tahoe is one of the few areas that can rival Laguna as a beauty spot. It’s “Bonanza” territory, with tall pines, mountain vistas, skiing, snowboarding and the occasional bear. If you visit the area in winter it’s unsettling to see so many sites named after the Donner party, but the landscape is always picturesque.
This time, before I left, Patti Jo asked me to take a new photo of Keaton for our next family Christmas card because he wouldn’t be visiting in time to pose with us. I said I would, but, well, the short version is I forgot.
In my defense, my hotel was across the state border in Reno, so each day I drove back and forth. The camera was in the hotel, in a funny pocket of my suitcase, and the only time I thought of the photo was when I was with the camera and not with Keaton, or when I was with Keaton and not the camera.
When I got home I told Patti Jo all this, but she seemed to tire during my explanation. When I finished she confined herself to two comments: “Wow,” and a remark familiar to every husband:
“I asked you to do one thing ...”
I felt briefly guilty, but then I remembered something I used to do when I was younger and my habits and behavior weren’t all they could be. I used to make a mental list, which I called “Bad things Sherwood doesn’t do.” I don’t recall all the items, but the list included stealing, heroin and going out with married women.
After messing up my photo assignment, I indulged in my pastime again.
I didn’t take the picture. OK. But I also didn’t lose the camera. I didn’t lose my luggage. I didn’t crash the rental car. I didn’t steal, go out with married women or use heroin.
I spent four days up there not doing these things, and while I don’t beg for applause, I think when you add them up they certainly outweigh a missed photo op.
Unfortunately, this is another argument wives are disinclined to listen to.
In fact I’ve never made it to the end of my list before finding myself talking to an empty room. So it does my heart good to get a little of it out here.
Didn’t get drunk, either.
SHERWOOD KIRALY is a Laguna Beach resident. He has written four novels, three of which were critically acclaimed. His novel, “Diminished Capacity,” is now available in bookstores, and the film version will soon be out on DVD.