Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Language of Love...?

My wife speaks "pronoun." For the uninitiated and unmarried, speaking pronoun is the peculiar ability, attained by wives immediately upon the last "I do," to carry on entire conversations, alone or in the company of other wives, without specifying the identity of any person of thing they are talking about. Everything comes in pronouns. By some clairvoyant means, the other wives present seem to inherently understand the subject of the conversation without having to ask. They are equally adept at picking up and continuing the conversation in the same language. They all speak "pronoun."
Naturally, husbands are genetically indisposed to this ability. The average husband sits by wondrously clueless as his beloved carries on with numerous "he's," "she,s" and "its" to the utter bewilderment of the English language.
My wife's favorite ploy is to step into the middle of a thought she has been keeping to herself until she erupts with a statement, like "Did you see or talk to them today?"
This leaves me to wonder whom among the nine hundred, sixty-four people I've met today that I've chosen to both see and talk to.
"Uh, sure," I answer, not wanting my wife to think I've been neglectful of meeting and speaking to at least someone; and hoping for some hint or clue to know who she is talking about.
No luck. "Well, it's about time, " she answers, "You haven't talked to them in the last two days, and I saw her out in the yard yesterday."
Not only am I clueless, I am also guilty. And I don't even know who the victim is.
But this is only the beginning. My wife has mastered the art of speaking pronoun while switching subjects from one conversation to another, and almost in mid sentence. As a result, "he" and "she" may refer alternately to one of two conversations either coming or going. About the time I have "their" identity figured out, my wife will triumphantly announce, "Oh, I'm not talking about them. I've changed subjects."
Thanks for the warning.
The oddest thing about all this is that after more than thirty-four years of marriage, I find myself beginning to make sense of what my wife is saying. Scary. I think it has something to do with being familiar with our habits, interests and most common subjects for discussion.
This can produce some truly odd conversations for those who care to eavesdrop. For example, suppose the phone rings and I answer. The conversation goes something like this:
"It's her again."
"Have you seen her in the past two days? Oh, and is he up yet?"
"Yep. Talked to her this morning. He was on the loose again. And yes, he's up but he's still in the basement."
The forgoing mythical conversation is about three people in two entirely different situations. I promise, if I showed my wife the dialog, she would know who I am talking about.
What does all this mean? That two people who spend their lives together can develop a kind of unwritten, unspecified communication. They are so close, they do not need a lot of detail - like names and places - to make sense with one another. They can speak in "pronoun" and still understand one another. It comes with long marriages. It comes with intimacy. It's a sure sign they know how to communicate.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


As my church and most of my friends know, I've been employed in a part time job for the past year as a "support staff" worker for a funeral home. I gave up that job yesterday. The combination of trying to keep up with my church duties plus caring for my family finally proved to be too much. I can't do everything. Or as I put it to one of my former fellow employees, "I can do everything poorly."
I was not quite prepared for the hasty exit I was given. No sooner had I submitted my resignation, than the general manager immediately sent through the paperwork for my release. "Well," said the surprised supervisor, "I guess you're through!"
The manager probably did me a favor whether she meant to or not. The fact is, I recognize that my church and my family need my attention much more than a part-time job does. And if the church cannot continue to grow, the part-time job is meaningless anyway.
Pastors of small churches need moments like this. When attendance is down and offerings are low, looking for a quick solution is an easy temptation to give in to. Not that I was looking for a quick answer. I had prayed much before finding and accepting the job. Still, my first and only calling is to be a pastor and preach the gospel. The way to succeed at that is not by means of working another job. I need to pay attention to the real job - the one God gave me first.
So now I'm officially disconnected from the funeral home and better off for it. There will be more time for study, for prayer, for writing, for visiting and for being a pastor. The more attention I pay to this job, the less I will need any other. What could be better than that?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Just One More Thing"

Those who are following this blog know my wife is currently recovering from serious surgery. Everyone will be pleased to know my wife is making splendid progress at whipping me into shape even as she makes her way through therapy. I am becoming a first rate nurse. Not the "Nurse Cratchet" variety, mind you. More like the male "gopher" of the species, as in "Honey, could you get -?"
My wife's preferred method for husband training has evolved into a simple request that follows the same pattern with earnest repetition. It's a phrase she has learned to attach to every task and it works with amazing proficiency. Each time I return from fetching or finding, she responds with a smile and "Just one more thing ..."
And there is always "just one more thing." Nothing major, of course, and that is why she has no hesitation to add it.
Being an average guy, I tend to major on efficiency especially when climbing our staircase for yet one more item. The stairs are long - fifteen steps - and steep, much too steep for Mrs. B to try them after only two weeks out of surgery. I call it the "Staircase of Doom," and the nurse quickly killed any notion of my wife climbing it.
That means I have to make the trip, and I'm determined to climb the steps only as often as necessary. I try to assemble of list of things to pick up and bring them all at one time. Trouble is, while I've gone to the mountain, my wife is still thinking. So as soon as I return with an armload, believing the job is done, she says, "Just one more thing."
She's consistent. There will always be at least "one more thing" for everything I do. Now I know why nurses wear those clubby looking athletic shoes on the job. The shoes are good for racing after "just one more thing."
Is there an up side to this? Yes. I'm getting good exercise while running upstairs. I hope to lose a few pounds until my wife fully recovers. I should do well as long as I don't have to go for ice cream too often.