Shell Shocked: The fifty-year confession
A Sanibel couple was celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. After a celebratory evening at a local restaurant with family and friends, they made their way home for a final sip of cognac before hitting the sack.
The husband said to his wife, “Dear, we’ve been blessed. We’ve had a wonderful life. We have a terrific family and lots of friends. You and I both did well professionally and we have all the money we’ll ever need. We’ve had fifty incredible years of marriage. What else could we ask for?”
The wife said, “I’ll drink to that, dear. To a glorious fifty years.”
And she clicked glasses with her husband and had another sip of cognac. There then came a few moments of silence as each was lost in memories and wedded bliss.
Finally, the wife said: “What are you thinking, dear?”
Another pause and the husband said, “We’ve always been so honest with each other. But every person has secrets, things he or she just never told anyone else. Do you have any secrets that you never shared with me?
The wife thought about this and said: “Dear, I’ve always been an open book. I have no secrets.”
The husband lowered his head, afraid to look his wife of fifty years in the eye.
“I need to ask you about an event that happened many years ago. Please don’t be angry with me but I need to know.
The wife sighed. “Dear, I have no idea what secret you think I may have been harboring all these years but ask away. I will tell you the God’s honest truth.”
The husband took another sip of cognac and said, “Do you remember that afternoon forty years ago when I came home a lot earlier than usual? I drove up to the house and could swear I heard some commotion within. When I got to the door and called out your name you came running down the stairs and appeared disheveled. Although I didn’t find anyone else in the house, to this day I still have the sense that someone was there and that you were fooling around. I never raised the subject again until now. Were you fooling around and if so with whom?”
“Why would you ask me that now after so many years? Well, okay, here goes. Yes, I did fool around that day. He went out the window when we heard your car in the driveway. Is that what you want me to say? I never wanted to hurt you but got caught up in the moment.”
The husband said, “I knew it. You looked so satisfied when I came in the door, as though you had just consumed a banana split. But I know now that you really did have your cake and ate it too. Who was it, by the way? Wait, let me guess. Was it the pool guy?”
“No,” she said. “The pool guy wasn’t particularly attractive.”
“Was it the gardener?”
“No, he wasn’t around that day.”
“No,” she said. “At least give me the benefit of trading up not down. Stop guessing. I’ll tell you. It was the encyclopedia salesman.”
“Say what?” said the husband.
“Yes, the encyclopedia salesman. He made frequent calls on homes in the neighborhood. He was very attractive and everything seemed to click. We looked at each other and knew that we were treading into uncharted waters.”
The husband was distraught. “And that’s when it happened?”
“Yes,” she said. “He taught me how to use an encyclopedia.”
“Did you take him upstairs to our bedroom?” he asked hesitantly.
“No,” she responded. “We never left the kitchen. He taught me how to use the encyclopedia. Period. We were up to the letter ‘l’ when we heard your car in the driveway. That’s the day I learned to appreciate you and our marriage even more so.”
He was stymied. “Are you saying that you didn’t fool around?”
“Fool around? If becoming better educated means fooling around then yes, I was fooling around.”
The husband heaved a sigh of relief. “And all these years I thought that you had been naughty that day. I do apologize for my distrust. I hope you forgive me for even thinking such stray thoughts.”
The wife said, “You mean that all these years you’ve been carrying around the notion that I had been unfaithful? I wouldn’t have ever considered doing such a terrible thing. My love for you prevented me from even thinking about it.”
They touched glasses again and the growing tension seemed to ease immediately.
The husband asked, “So what else did you learn from the encyclopedia salesman that day?”
She said, “Well, I told him I already owned several other encyclopedias but he insisted on selling me yet another one. So I killed him and buried him in the cellar.”
Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.