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Shell Shocked: Grounds for annulment

By Staff | Nov 19, 2019

Art Stevens

Bob got hoodwinked into getting married. He hadn’t planned on getting married. In fact, he was perfectly content dating Sally and would have continued doing so without proposing for a long time to come. If he had had knee surgery much earlier, he’d still be single today.

Bob had torn a ligament in his knee in a sports accident but preferred living in pain rather than going through knee surgery. His orthopedic surgeon warned him that he’d continue to have severe pain if he didn’t have surgery. The surgeon made the case that virtually all professional and amateur athletes had surgery immediately following such an injury; and that the damage done would not heal by itself.

But Bob had ominous thoughts about surgery. He had deep fears about being in a hospital and the daunting rehab process that followed. He preferred to gut it out.

One day he was in Sally’s home watching TV. He hadn’t even told Sally about his injury. He didn’t want her feeling sorry for him and nagging him to get that surgery done. They were sitting on a couch together and he felt the need to use the john.

He got up slowly and tenderly, trying to hold his grimace in. It was painful standing up. Sally asked him where he was going. To respond he had to turn around and face Sally. Just as he turned he felt a sharp pain in his wobbly knee and found it collapsing under his weight. He went down on his bad knee while the rest of him was still upright.

Sally lit into a smile. She said, “Why, Bob, you’re making me so happy. You don’t even have to say a single word. The answer is yes.”

Bob remained in the position he was in because he couldn’t straighten out his bad knee. “Sally, whatever do you mean?”

She said “Oh, Bob. Please don’t play coy with me. No one gets down on one knee unless he’s proposing marriage. I get it. And I know how shy you are about saying such things. But your gesture says it all. Yes, Bob, I will marry you.”

To say the least, Bob was stuck for words. And he was in a quandary. He didn’t want Sally to know about the pain he felt in his injured knee. On the other hand, he couldn’t think of any explanation for being down on one knee.

What could he say? What excuse or explanation could he offer? Should he say that he wanted to try walking across the room on his knees as a new form of exercise? Could he say that he was practicing to play Al Jolson in a community musical production? Sally probably had never heard of Al Jolson.

Could he say that he was monitoring the rapid approach of a cockroach? None of these explanations would make any sense. He was stuck, and he knew it. He could only sigh deeply and say “yes, Sally, I’m proposing to you. Will you marry me?”

Oh, Bob, his alter ego yelled inside his head. You are such a dummy. How could you have possibly gotten yourself into such a fix. Now you can’t renege on your proposal. You have no choice. You must marry Sally now.

Years later, after Bob and Sally were married and then divorced, Bob hurt his other knee. Of course, the pain he had endured in the knee that had forced him to marry Sally had gotten so intense that he had had no choice but to go through that darned surgery after all. And, naturally, as a divorced man, he was now dating a new lady that he didn’t anticipate marrying although she was urging him to.

This time around he didn’t hesitate for a moment. He scheduled knee surgery on his new bad knee immediately lest he mistakenly would get down on one knee again. But Bob got his wish. He remained a bachelor for the rest of his life.