The Old Ball and Chain




I was out walking with my daughters yesterday. An elderly couple nearby was walking in the same direction, but not side-by-side. The man was ten feet in front of her. A man standing in their path and holding a clipboard asked the husband if he would like to make a donation to some charity. The man abruptly said no. As they passed, the man said, “Okay. Well, have a great night. And by the way, there’s an angel walking behind you.” This was either a line he used all the time, or he intuitively knew a couple, especially an older couple, should walk together.

This was something my mother used to complain about when my dad was alive. He would always be blazing a trail, way up ahead of her. She would say, “Look at him. I could get mugged, abducted, or hit by a bus and he wouldn’t even know.”

Anyway, the old man’s response was, “What? Her? She’s no angel. That’s my warden.”

This could be perceived as a joke. There is often such playful banter between people who have been married a long time. Sometimes it’s just that – playful – but often, probably more often, it’s an indication of deep resentments. As Shakespeare wrote in King Lear, “Many a true word hath been spoken in jest.”

If his wife would have laughed, I would have thought their relationship was healthy and this was just another part of the act old folks develop. I’ve known old couples like this and their comedic repartee was so amazing, I suggested they should “take their show on the road.” This was not such a case. She was not smiling, and obviously embarrassed and saddened by his comment. He looked at me and smiled, expecting support from another male. He didn’t receive it. I now am at risk of having my membership with the men’s club permanently revoked.

You see, I can’t stand men, of any age, who treat their wives like they were somehow forced to get married, and treat their children as if they were also forced upon them. They courted the woman, they asked her to marry him, they had children with her, and yet somehow she becomes “the old ball and chain” as time passes, and the children are even resented for preventing the man from doing whatever it is he thinks he would be doing if he were alone. It’s the worst kind of victim mentality.

Sure, things can go a little sour. That’s life. But real men don’t whine, they adapt. They don’t verbally abuse, they stay or they leave. And if they stay, they don’t allow their character to become worse. They don’t blame the people they chose to be with, or the children they willingly created, for their own unhappiness. Of course, the truth is the flaw was there all along. It didn’t begin after the wedding.

This is especially pathetic with old people, like this man, who was grossly overweight, by the way. I mention his weight because my first thought after his comment about his wife was, “What would you be doing if you weren’t with her? Are women throwing themselves at you constantly, and you can’t act upon it because of your wife?”

Maybe I’m out of touch. Maybe mean, old, fat guys are the new hotties.

Men are something else. Always imagining that life would be better if they were single. I didn’t get married until late in life, partly because of all the negative programming from married men who would say things to me like “enjoy your freedom while you can.”

Freedom. And what’s the opposite of freedom? Slavery and prison. That’s what I began to associate marriage with. Men are wolves, but to be happy, to find peace, we must become sheep. Not wimps. Soft. Sensitive. Loving. The lone wolf out in the wilderness may be romantic at twenty, but it’s pathetic after forty. Our hearts must soften, and if we let them, a wife and children are the best ways for this to happen.

The old man’s comment, “That’s no angel, that’s my warden” was true. He just had the roles reversed.

Finally! The Solution to Middle East Conflict.


The say the problems in the Middle East are unsolvable. The solution, however, is simple.

The thing that makes men happiest is looking at women. God designed it that way. It’s how the human race has perpetuated itself this long despite a whole lot of violence and misery. 

However, most women in the Middle East are covered from head to toe. The lucky ones are allowed to show their faces but many can’t even do that. They’re forced to walk around in 120 degree heat wearing black curtains called abaya’s. This makes the women miserable, which is never a good thing. As western men know, a happy wife makes a happy life.

Covering up the wonderment that is women also makes Muslim men miserable because they are depriving themselves of their greatest joy – the aforementioned ogling. Those poor slobs.

So the solution, it seems to me, is to get rid of the hijab’s and abaya’s and chador’s and jilbab’s and niqab’s and burqa’s and shalwar kameez’s. When they’re all gone and Muslim women are allowed to run around in daisy duke’s and bikini tops, they’ll be happier (and cooler), men will be MUCH happier, and even radical Muslims will be too busy being hypnotized by T&A to make bombs.

Turn those burqa’s into burqini’s! End of theory.

What is the Higher Response?


There’s a lot of talk about “tolerance” on Martin Luther King Day, but I’ve always considered that to be a negative word. To “tolerate” someone implies that they’re getting on your nerves and you should just bite your lip and do your best to ignore it. I prefer the word “celebration” – celebration of the fact that Americans of all colors and faiths are living, working and playing together wonderfully. (Unfortunately, the 2% who can’t get along with anyone get all the attention on the news.) Celebration of all we’ve conquered to bring us to where we are. Whites who took part in civil rights marches with Dr. King got bitten by dogs and cracked in the head by batons along with blacks, too. The abuses that civil rights leaders fought to end, and even slavery, could still be a reality if nobody ever fought and bled to end them.

Here’s a story about another kind of tolerance – toward someone who is difficult, different and potentially dangerous. It was published in the book Chicken Soup for the Soul – The Power of Positive. It’s called What is the Higher Response? I hope you enjoy it.