I decided to try and communicate with my wife about the deteriorating state of our marriage in a way she could understand. After all, I figured, she attends so many community meetings, many of them governmental, I thought she could relate to the use of a flow chart.
I set up an easel with a piece of paper on it, the kind you flip over to the next sheet after you’ve marked it up.
On the paper was a circle representing me, with four smaller circles above connected by lines to the bottom circle (representing me).
She sat down and watched.
“Now,” I said, using a pointer. “This bottom circle is supposed to be me. The four circles above represent my life. This circle (the one on the left) is my love life, this one (the circle in the middle) my work life, the next circle my recreation life, and this one (the circle on the right) my car.”
I took a breath.
“Now, if any one of the four circles above was in good shape instead of wretched, it would make dealing with the other three much much easier.”
I looked at her. She sat, impassive.
“Now, I envision myself as a man of action, a worthy successor to Fletcher Christian as played by Mel Gibson. In fact, I would have been better in the role than Mel. He looks like a handsome Soupy Sales. I need a lot of love.”
I pointed to the circle. I took a crayon and drew an extra line to that circle, a figurative representation of more love.
I really meant more sex, but love to me is sex, and visa versa.
“I refuse to be one of these old people who no longer make love,” I announced.
“Now. This symbol (second circle) is my job. I’m in a position where all I ever hear is how behind I am, how we’re not making goal. Week after week. That I’m barely hanging on to my job. My boss says, “John, some times you seem so smart, and then other times, you …just….don’t…get…it!
This has the impact of wearing you down after awhile,” I explained.
I cleared my throat.
“In the past ten years, I’ve had four days off, three of them at Disneyland, a place I hate, for the sake of my daughter. There, she accused me during a bitter argument of being too chicken to go on one of the rides with her (in truth I was).
This is not conducive to peace of mind,” I added.
The phone rang and my wife answered it. She talked. I waited, my life put on hold.
She returned and I resumed.
“Next, we come to my car. Most men consider the buying of a new car to be a symbolic signpost of achievement, a life-affirming patriotically American milestone. As we know, I have a car that has 296,000 miles on it, and whose continued use I justify under the concocted premise that the car is much like me, kind of heroic—-old and tough.”
My daughter entered the room and interrupted us with a problem. My wife left the room to deal with it.
I packed up the flow chart.