Sam loves his family but hates conventional wisdom.
| It's Only Politically Incorrect
My wife is beautiful, to be sure, and is abundantly radiant in whatever she wears. That’s why I married her. Well, that and she doesn’t use social media--very often. Anyway, she stood before me in the morning sunlight that spilled through the kitchen windows.
With hands expectantly placed on her hips, she asked, “Are you sure these jeans don’t make my butt look big, Sam?”
I casually motioned for her to turn around, pausing to take a bite of my fat-free donut. I assessed with mild-to-moderate internal deliberation. With her back to me, I stealthily let the last three quarters of her idea of a more healthy breakfast fall to the tile floor. Jake, my loyal black Labrador, did the rest, although not so stealthily, as one could imagine. Warm, K-9 saliva landed on my bare foot.
“Hey. I heard that, Sam.”
I went with it. “Sorry. I was famished.”
She shook her head, which is usually how she responds to my humor. Beyond laughing, I think.
Finally, I exhaled a short burst of air, signifying I had reached a conclusion based on my extensive appraisal, (which I thoroughly enjoyed).
After taking a swig of coffee to dislodge the substance someone had the gall to call a donut from the roof of my mouth, I replied, “No dear. Not at all.”
She turned and faced me again. “You’re just saying that.”
“You know what, Amber, you’re right. Those jeans don’t make your butt look big, your butt makes those jeans look big.”
Actually, I only thought about saying that. Not because her butt is big, but because I think that kind of answer would be funny. But we’ve been married for over ten years, so I said, “I’m gonna shower.”
I leaned forward and kissed her cheek. “I love you, babe.”
She huffed-out a chuckle.
That’s how she says, ‘I love you, too. And I think you’re funny and brilliant.’
I smiled and nodded in agreement of her silent approval, then left to go shower.
It was a typical Saturday morning and we had agreed that I would stay home with our two wonderful children, Sarah and Sammy J, while Amber went shopping (In a skirt and blouse).
She threw her purse over her shoulder and grabbed the car keys off the entry table.
From the couch that faced the TV, I turned my head and said, “Nice blouse, Amber.”
She replied, “Don’t forget we’re having dinner with Toni and Ray tonight.”
I feigned confusion. "Who?"
She put her hands on her hips. "Toni and Ray."
“I don’t know any Toni and Rays.”
“We met them at the gym, Sam.”
“I don’t remember meeting a gay couple at the gym.”
She exhaled and closed her eyes for several seconds. A Zen-like, tension-release exercise, perhaps.
Our kids are very trying for her.
“Toni is Ray’s wife, Sam.”
“Oh." I shifted on the cushion. "Does she know Ray is gay?”
Amber opened the front door. “I’ll be back, Sam."
“Okay. Love you. Don‘t shop angry.” My smile was charming.
"I know you do." She shut the door behind her.
She totally gets me.
Sarah, our three-year-old, came shuffling into the living room rubbing her eyes. A spout of auburn hair was only half-springing from a rubber band on top of her head.
She yawned as she approached the couch and informed me, “Daddy, it hurts when I do this.”
She grabbed her cheeks with both hands, then squeezed until I could see the bottoms of her eyeballs.
Man, that kid looks just like me.
“Then don’t do that, Sarah.”
“Okay.” She let go of her face.
I looked up to see Sammy J, our five-year-old son, enter the living room.
I pointed at Sarah. “Did you teach her that?”
“No Dad. You did.”
At 6 p.m. Amber and I entered the restaurant, dressed somewhat casually in a matching ensemble hand sewn by my mother-in-law, featuring a vividly stunning Hawaiian pattern.
Totally kidding. We looked good. Not at all like tourists.
We were seated near a window, and we could see the parking lot from our booth.
I folded my hands on the slightly sticky table. “I do love me some Chili’s.”
“Don’t start, Samuel.”
“Should I have worn a tie?” I smoothed the front of my black polo shirt with my hands.
Amber was looking out the window. She pointed discreetly with her elbow.
“Here they come.”
I looked out into the parking lot.
An elderly woman was struggling to push a slumped-over white-haired man in a wheelchair toward the entrance.
“Don’t let them order the chicken, Amber, I don’t know the Heimlich.”
She slapped my shoulder.
“Not them, Sam. There.” She pointed at a thirty-something couple exiting a Toyota Prius.
I perused Ray. He was short, skinny, and dressed what Amber would call, Metro. And Toni, well, she was too skinny and a little mousy. But these are just my opinions.
So, after the pleasantries, Toni slid into the booth across from Amber, and Ray sat across from me. We ordered, handed the waitress (I mean female server, or better yet, Meal Organization and Distribution Associate) our menus, and then the fun began.
Ray studied me through his square black-framed glasses.
“What do you do, Sam?” He took a sip of bottled water.
I’m a shepherd.
I answered, “I manage a company that develops and manufactures oil exploration equipment.”
He paused, then said. “Oh. We drive a Prius.” He gestured toward the parked car.
I nodded, raising my eyebrows in apparent adoration while taking a sip of my Pepsi.
Placing a hand on his wife’s shoulder, he continued. “We do our part to slow global warming.” They both smiled at each other.
Without spitting my Pepsi out, I looked at Amber, not smiling, and she jumped in and asked them how they had met. Her timing always was impeccable. The server interrupted the detailed recollection of ‘When Toni met Raymond,’ and set a salad in front of each of us.
I took advantage of the interruption.
“So, have you ever considered the possibility that global warming is one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated on the American public?”
Amber kicked the side of my shin. Hard.
Toni choked on a gluten-free crouton. (She had brought her own).
Ray looked thoroughly bewildered.
The server, still smiling, asked, “Anything else?”
I continued. “Yes. The reason it has been so universally accepted is a dumbed-down public and a willing media.”
Her smile gone, she replied. “I meant, can I bring you anything else?”
The shake of Amber’s head was almost imperceptible.
I scanned the table, then asked our server, “Is salt still legal?”
She answered, “We don’t keep it on the tables anymore. You have to request it.”
She was smiling again, but it may have been forced.
“Would you like me to bring you some salt, sir?” Her tone had flattened.
I glanced at her name tag. “Do you like salt, Alison?”
Her demeanor changed. Her smile was apologetic.
“I salt everything.”
She glanced at Ray, who’s confusion had turned to disapproval.
I made a circle with my finger. “Bring us each a salt shaker.”
She giggled and walked away.
Ray inquired, “You do know there is a consensus of scientists who agree that man is causing the earth to warm, don’t you Sam?”
Sensing I was nearing the edge of a cliff, I replied, "Yeah, Ray, you're probably right."
I smiled at my lovely wife, who's return smile intimated I had not only fallen off the cliff, but landed head first into a swarming pool of sharks.
I pictured her in a shark suit swimming around me. A see-through shark suit, actually.
Alison, our over-salting server, returned to place our meals before us, obliterating my perfectly crafted mental escape. She set a garden burger in front of me, and when Toni gagged and looked away in horror I knew she had been served my double bacon cheeseburger.
I grimaced. "The bacon's over-cooked?”
Amber, who had been uncharacteristically quiet, kicked the side of my shin again.
Ray and I exchanged the misplaced plates, and we ate in silence. I contemplated saying more, but the knot that was forming on my shin was already throbbing.
In the parking lot, I sat behind the wheel of our over-sized SUV, waiting for Ray to back out of the spot next to us.
Amber said, “Sam, do you have any idea how embarrassed you made me in there? What’s wrong with you?”
I reflected for a moment on the disastrous dinner. “I was a bit of a jerk. Okay, a real jerk. But sometimes I just get fed up with people settling for mis-truths, un-truths, or even half-truths. Especially when they want to mandate it on the rest of us.”
Amber sighed and placed her hand on my arm. “They’re free to believe what they want to believe.”
I quipped, “Like how Bill swears the Clinton Library doesn't have a massage parlor in the basement?"
This time she almost laughed. She did smile.
I tried another one. “Did my approval rating drop below Congress’ tonight?”
She thought for a second, then replied, “Not sure that’s possible, but you came close.”
I pondered that. “Are Jake and I going to be sharing the dog house tonight?”
My beautiful wife clasped both hands affectionately onto my arm and said, “If I held to that theory of punishment, we’d have added a room onto the dog house years ago.”
Her smile was dangerously triumphant.
Dropping the car into reverse, I faced her and replied, “I know a guy who does man-cave additions.“ I began rolling backward, still looking at her. “So if you change your mind-”
A Pruis may get incredible gas mileage but they don’t hold up well to low-speed side impact. I backed right into the driver’s side of Ray’s pride and joy. My heart sank. I slammed the car into drive and pulled forward a few feet. Amber held her head in her hands, not due to injury. I stepped out of our car.
Ray was failing in his attempt to open the driver’s door from the inside, and Toni was breathing into a paper bag. I opened Toni’s door and she flinched when she saw me.
I felt terrible. “Are you guys okay?”
They both stared at me.
I dropped into a squatting position. “I owe you both a huge apology. And I’m very sorry for running into your car, too.”
Neither of them said a word. Toni was getting control of her breathing.
I said, “My insurance will take care of the car, Ray. Again, I’m really sorry about this whole evening. I wish I could start it over with you guys.”
Ray informed me, “I hope we would decline, if it were to start over.”
Toni took the bag from her face. “I think when I get home I’m going to throw up.”
Glancing at the caved-in door, I said with a chuckle, “Be sure and post a picture on Face Book.“
A few freshly awkward seconds passed. Grimmacing, I added, “Oh, of the car, I mean. Not the vomit.”
How do I get here?
We exchanged insurance information and saw them on their way. I informed Amber we would be changing gyms the very next day, so as to avoid any further embarrassment.
To which she replied, “One; they will never be back to our gym, and two; did you say ‘to avoid further embarrassment?’ You?” Now she laughed.
Maybe it’s Jake that gets me.