I spent time recently reading my wife’s daily journals, a set of diaries dating back more than 50 years to the day we married. Without going into detail, I have to say we award-winning journalists must occasionally resort to this type of devious activity in order to capture more prizes and get a passing grade in mass communication classes.
Along about l976 in her notes, I came across this entry: “l5 Maxims to Live By.”
I read in awe, because here was the secret to Marilyn’s instant wit and wisdom. I’m talking about her little one-liners that often snapped me to attention, made my legs wobble, and caused me to wake in the middle of the night screaming, “Run for your lives! It’s an avalanche!”
Yes, these simple axioms were her smart-alecky remarks handed down mother to daughter, generation to generation, over boiling pots of pasole. I sometimes heard her mother mutter the same adages as she ground her teeth and worked over a hot stove. Invariably they popped up at the supper table (the rules, not the mother-in-law) when my opinions got too frisky.
Sometimes Marilyn’s aim was so good she’d zap me right behind the ear with a quick retort and lay me out like a wet washrag, like when I said, “I’m going to write a column about (the president, the economy, no smoking signs, politicians, pompous people — choose one.)”
She’d reply, “Well, keep your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them again.”
That was Maxim No. 1 on her dictum list. The rest went like this:
2. In case you die on Page 100, don’t read books that will reveal your depravity.
3. Slow down. It’s not just cars that can be recalled by their maker.
4. For breakfast have sardines (or leftover pizza, anchovies, half a dozen donuts, two cigars, or nine cups of coffee,) and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
5. If you can’t be nice, at least have the decency to be vague.
6. If you loan a friend $20 and never see him again, it’s probably worth it.
7. It may be your simple purpose in life to serve as a warning to others.
8. Never buy a car you can’t push after saying, “Don’t worry, we have plenty of gas.”
9. Don’t put both feet in your mouth — you’ll be left without a leg to stand on.
10. It’s true the early bird gets the worm, but it’s the early worm that gets eaten.
11. If everything seems to be coming your way, you’re probably going the wrong way on a one-way street.
12. Birthdays are good things, because the more you have, the longer you live.
13. Folks who are late are always more jovial than folks who have to wait for them.
14. If ignorance is bliss, how come you’re so sad?
15. Don’t moan and groan because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
As you can see I had to put up with a lot in our marriage, but I developed a little list of my own. You’ll note that my remarks don’t carry the biting wit found in Marilyn’s, because I was born with a lower IQ. Here they are:
1. God made wives as the only persons who know where the scotch tape is.
2. God made wives just like guys only with parts that are more fun.
3. God made wives from clouds then crocheted them with barbed wire.
4. I was 60 years old before I realized my name wasn’t “Hush Up.”
5. A bossy wife was a bossy little girl.
6. A good wife doesn’t squeal on a guy for sleeping at weddings.
7. A good guy says NO to booze and YES to chores, if he wants to eat.
8. A girl marries only when she figures it’s too late to do much else.
9. A bride should know a guy’s surname before she marries him.
10. Mothers-in-law always kid around by saying their daughters forgot to put on their thinking caps when they decided to marry.
11. My wife says she’s reluctant to be boss as she starches my shorts.
12. The difference between guys and their wives is guys go to work while wives spend the day making lists of chores so when guys come home they have to go to work.
13. Wives are superior to guys in one area — they have an innate ability to boss kids around without threatening them.
14. Guys are taller and stronger, but wives have all the power. Kids learn that right away. They know who to ask if they want to sleep over with their friends.
15. If you’re married by a judge, insist on a jury.
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales.