Written by: Frank Cormier
It was late and his wife, half asleep, was laying prone on the leather couch with a Woman’s Day magazine splayed open on her stomach and her hands folded on her chest, when his epiphany struck. Why these thoughts came to him when it was time for him to rest was a mystery he’ll have to solve once he finished with the explanation on his mind presently regarding perfection. He tried his best to bridle his enthusiasm at such a late hour but needed someone to talk to about his answer.
“Honey?” he asked in a whispered voice, “Honey, are you awake?”
“Kind of, why?” she groggily replied.
“Who has the perfect golf swing of all time?”
She arched an eyebrow, “Ian Woosman,” she replied.
“Ian Woosman!? It’s Craig Stadler.”
“Okay, then it’s Craig Stadler.”
“Seriously, it is Craig. I recall reading an article in one of my science magazines a few months ago and these two inventors were going to design a machine that could generate the perfect golf swing, and then try to sell it as a training aid,” he said assuredly, “So after they designed it; they compared it to all the golfers on tour, past and present, you know Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Daly and so on; and only Craig Stadler’s swing matched!”
“That’s fascinating, dear; by the way it’s John Daly. Are you ready for bed?” she asked through a yawn.
He knew he should not have engaged in a deep conversation with her at such a late hour and it was too late now to un-ask the question. The outcome was going to be the same; she’ll hurriedly agree with him just to get him to go to bed and nothing will have been accomplished. There were so many other examples he could have started off with that would have reeled her in for a meaningful discussion. Why did he start with golf? He believed that he might be able to salvage this conversation with a better question.
“Who would you say had the most perfect wedding?” he asked next.
She propped her head up on her elbow as she turned on her side so that she could see him better. He was sitting in the middle of the parlor floor with a bunch of books, magazines, and note paper littered around him. He had a pen in his right hand while another one was stuck behind his left ear and his left hand worked the laptop computer.
“Ours, dear,” she said and smiled.
“No, I mean seriously. Wouldn’t you say it was Prince Charles and Diane?”
“Well why not? It was a storybook wedding! Every little girl wants to be the princess marrying a prince; right?”
“Where are you going with all of this ‘my prince’?”
They had been married over seventeen years and he still fell into these traps. It was more like diving in head first with his eyes closed. Anytime he wanted to discuss something of importance to him, she always twisted it around to search for an underlying message. He thought he was swimming with good ideas in a placid sitting pool and she comes along and generates a tsunami.
“I’m just pointing out the fact that theirs was a ‘storybook’ wedding, that’s all,” he answered dejectedly.
“Well it was on the surface, but we all know by now that it wasn’t a storybook marriage. And it was so unfortunate how it all ended so sadly for her.”
“Okay, you’re right,” he conceded. “Well then who do you think has the perfect marriage?”
It was too late; the words were out there. The question was asked and he could not get a “do over” like he used to shout out when he was a child. His mouth was in motion before his brain could tell him to be quiet and let the question pass. God how he missed being a kid at times! No worries other than there being enough neighbor kids around to get a baseball game going or some other sport. If there was ever a questionable call made on the field during play, everyone would shout “do over!” and the call was ignored no matter what happened and the game played on. “I’ll change the rules,” he thought.
“I want a do over!” he said before she could answer.
“A ‘do over’? How old are you?”
“Yeah, a ‘do over’. It’s not what I meant to ask.”
“All right then, what did you intend to ask?” she asked, now sitting up, her arms crossed at her chest.
“My intention was to ask if you could think of other marriages, besides our own, that you would say have the quality of perfection,” he said while mentally patting himself on the back and cheering “kick save!”
Now it was her turn to pause and consider her words. She studied his features. She always admired the way his nose intersected with his eyes and forehead. A “perfect” bridge came to mind. His eyes were also fascinating. They had the color of blue steel, cobalt to be exact, and they were deep set and very large. Whenever he was excited, he would open his eyes so wide that they looked like two starch white china saucers with two of the largest blueberries the world has ever witnessed. His eyes were now wide open. She stood up before offering her response.
“First of all, I’m not certain what your definition of perfection is and how you would apply it to both a marriage and a golf swing,” she said with careful consideration. “Secondly, it is impossible for me to answer your question because what is perfect for one couple may not be perfect for the next. Remember, those other marriages you are questioning all happen behind closed doors, and couples have a public face and a private one just like we do.”
“Oh. Well if you had to guess based on what you see in public, who would you pick?” he asked, his brow now creased.
“Well ‘if I must guess,’ then I would say my sister and her husband.”
“Really? You think they have a perfect marriage?” he asked surprisingly.
“Yes. You asked me to pick one so I did.”
“But she’s on her second marriage. How can that be perfect?”
“I guess she learned a lot from the failure of the first one.”
“I suppose. Are you happy?”
“Yes, and I am also tired. Are you ready for bed?” she asked as she pointed to the items strewn about the floor.
“In a minute. I still haven’t shared with you my idea of perfection.”
“If you must…”
He had a sad look on his face now. She knew the words hurt him and that was not her intention. “I’m sorry for answering you in that tone. It’s not an excuse, but I am tired,” she lovingly said.
“It’s okay honey. You would think after all of this time together we could read each other’s minds.”
“Well my mind is blank right now waiting to hear your theses.”
“I’ve been doing a lot of research, as you can tell,” he said, as he waved his hand like that of a game show host over the books and magazines, “and I found an area in life that I think I can make better… well more perfect.”
She smiled and nodded at him to continue.
“What is perfect? It’s just a word, an adjective to be exact. We give it definition, life, meaning,” he continued with enthusiasm, “And as I learned more about different people’s ideas how they use it to describe their lives, no one used it to described death!”
“Um, okay. How do you think….” She cut herself off. “I’m sorry, go ahead dear.”
“My idea is to start a movement; a revolution if you will, with the people who make the headstones for cemeteries and ask them to replace ‘R.I.P.’ with ‘P.A.L.’”
“Yeah. It stands for ‘Perfection At Last,’” he enthusiastically said, “or ‘Peace At Last’ depending on the departed’s last wishes and all. And it sounds friendlier than Rest In Peace.”
“I get the peace one; but what does perfection have to do with death?”
“Think about it for a moment. Death is perfection. You no longer have to worry about paying taxes, bad drivers, typos, and a slew of other maladies that plague our existence. In death, there are no worries! It’s perfect!” he bubbled, barely able to contain his excitement. “So why not go out with those words on your gravestone and let the world know!?”
“I see. I guess I can’t argue with your logic. You found the perfect use for that word; no pun intended.”
“So, you agree with me?” he said, now puzzled. It wasn’t often she agreed with any of his ideas, so this must be a homerun he thought.
“Yes,” she replied, “Your idea is well thought out and your intentions are noble. What’s not to agree with?”
“Thanks honey! I love you.”
“I love you too, dear,” she responded in kind, ruffling his hair. “Are you ready for bed?”
Copyright (C) 2016 by Frank Cormier. All rights reserved.