April 24, 2013

Publisher's Notebook: Doing stupid things with the family vehicle

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Communication is essential to any successful marriage. It is the foundation that keeps the relationship strong. Lack of communication between couples leads to strife, misunderstandings, fights, and in my case, shards of broken glass.

When the husband is going to be late for supper, he should communicate with his wife instead of just leaving her hanging. “Honey, I’m going to be late so don’t bother cooking for me. Or if you want to wait, we’ll just go out and eat together.”

When the wife blows out the budget while shopping, she should tell her husband, instead of trying to hide it. “Honey, I spent $400 on groceries today and don’t know what I bought. I still have to buy meat. Will we have enough money for the car payment?”

These are good examples of essential communication critical to a marriage. I’ve found another one:

“Honey, when my Explorer is chained to a satellite dish, please don’t get in it without looking and drive off.”

I’ve dodged questions about why the back window of my Explorer was broken out, primarily because, as Jack Nicholson says, I can’t handle the truth.

I formulated several reasonable explanations that would shield me from embarrassment. I backed into a post. I was playing catch with the grandkids and knocked it out with a baseball. My wife broke out the window with a golf club.

But I nixed the last explanation, because it didn’t work out too well for the last guy who used it.

So, I’ll have to go with the truth. It was caused by a rogue satellite dish. Not the small ones that are latched to a roof or porch. This one was an old 10-foot wide Skybird that was cemented in place. It had been in my yard since about 1983.

I tried several times to remove it over the years, but came to the conclusion I needed to hire someone with a blow torch to cut it off and remove it.

With free junk removal month underway in the city, I took another stab at taking it down last weekend. I painstakenly started sawing through the bolts that held the huge dish in place. When I got down to the last few bolts, I felt I needed something to anchor the dish to keep it from getting loose and rolling into the car lot at the bottom of the hill, causing untold damage.

Men find interesting ways to use the family vehicle. They tie lumber to the top of it. They pull out tree stumps with it. I was going to use mine as an anchor. So, I pulled the Explorer into the yard and attached it to the Skybird with a chain.

The last bolt was stubborn and it was getting dark, so I left everything in place and decided to finish up the next day. But I failed to communicate the plan to my wife.

The next morning, I was out in Mary’s vehicle and got a call from her on my cell phone. She was hysterical. I thought the dog had been hit by a car. It took her several minutes to get the story out: She got in my car to go to the grocery, it wouldn’t go forward, something pulled it backwards and now the back window is broken out.

Then, a lot of communicating between husband and wife took place: “Honey, didn’t you see it was chained to the satellite dish?” “Why in the hell was it chained to the satellite dish?” “Why are you going to the grocery now, when you haven’t went all week?” “Why are you trying to take that dish down anyway? It’s only been sitting out there for 30 years.” “Why don’t you pay attention?” “Why don’t you kiss my …?”

We went back and forth on who was to blame for the fiasco. I didn’t tell her she couldn’t drive my vehicle. She didn’t tell me she was going to grocery, which she always does because she will ask if I need anything. It was a simple lack of communication, and the insurance agent was called. Fortunately, there’s no deductible on broken glass in a vehicle, so the Explorer was fixed in a couple of days. The satellite dish is gone, finally, but its metal stand is still there, dotted with bits of broken glass. I’m thinking about attaching a chain to it and pulling it out of the ground with the Explorer.

I learned a valuable lesson. Better communication in a marriage is essential to preventing problems when the husband tries to do something stupid with the family vehicle.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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