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Comedy Stories

Golden Repair

I’m not going to say another word.

There’s really no point. We go round and round and round. It’s just so tedious.

Of course this is a waste of time—and money. But I’ve found that in almost thirty years of marriage to her, she is an expert at doing both—often simultaneously. She could teach classes on how to waste her time and my money to make herself feel better.

Does she want me to be happier? Then she should just let me be me.

She remembers me, right? Same guy she’s known for decades. I’m not that hard to figure out.

I work. I come home. I watch a little television. I drink a half dozen beers. On the weekends, I cut the grass and make sure the cars have their oil changed every 3000 miles. On Sunday, I might play a little golf with my friends and drink a dozen beers.

We’re fine.

I don’t need to come here and empty my spleen in this claustrophobic room painted in soothing pastels with cheery motivational posters of an eagle soaring.

I don’t need to sit here with Mr. Cardigan and his “safe space” to talk about things better left unsaid.

Let sleeping dogs lie, all right?

We’re fine.

Mr. Cardigan talks to us about Japan—for $275/hour. “Say kintsugi with me,” he coos. Why do I repeat it along with her, like a dope, like we are watching Romper Room? Mr. Cardigan explains how kintsugi refers to the Japanese tradition of repairing cracks of broken pottery with gold. “The Japanese do it to show how we should embrace flaws and imperfections.”

Exactly.

She should stop trying to fix me. At my age, I’m not changing. She can fill in whatever flaws or imperfections I have with whatever she wants, which seems to be a litany of complaints about shit I’ve always done wrong since the day we met.

And what if I don’t change?

What is she going to do—leave me?

I’ll help her pack.

She’s right, though. I do stay at the office too late and take the long way home.

Why should I hurry home? To get browbeaten? I’d rather drive to a couple of hardware stores to find a lightbulb we don’t need. Anything to get out the house with her eyerolls and disgusted sighs.

But I’m not going to be treated like I’ve been her life’s biggest disappointment.

And the things she accuses me of. Just grossly unfair.

If I were going to talk, which I’m not, I would say—yeah, I look at other women. And it might shock her to find out that sometimes they look back.

Are there cracks in the foundation of my marriage? C’mon. It’s been thirty years, Mr. Cardigan. We don’t have cracks; we’ve got fissures.

The Japanese got it right, though. Those cracks are ours. Maybe that keeps us together—that we’re perfectly imperfect.

But you know what? I don’t even care. I’m just going to sit here.

I’m not going to say another word.

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He’s just going to sit there and not say another word.

That’s not the point of marriage counseling. I can go round and round and round by myself. It’s just so lonely.

Doesn’t he want to feel better about our marriage? Then he should let Mr. Cardigan do his job.

He remembers me, right? Same girl he’s known for decades. I’m not that hard to figure out. I work. I take care of the kids. I watch a little television. I eat a half pint of ice cream. On the weekends, I do all of the housework while he plays golf with his friends.

It’s not fine.

It would be nice if he quit treating me like the help. Maybe he could be as charming to me as he is to the receptionist at his office.

I like Mr. Cardigan trying to give him the communication tools he needs to fix whatever chasm has opened up between us. Maybe he will learn to ask for what he needs.

What does he need from me these days? Anything? All he wants is to be left alone.

After our youngest left for college, it just seemed our family was over.

Suddenly, I was roommates with a stranger—a stranger who has said some shockingly cruel things over the years.

Maybe I should let bygones be bygones, right?

We’re not fine.

Mr. Cardigan has us repeat the word kintsugi together. Surprisingly, he and I both repeat it at the same time. Perhaps he is paying attention after all? Maybe he likes the concept of non-attachment, the acceptance of change. Maybe he’ll stop being so closed off—so much more since his father passed. Mr. Cardigan says: “The Japanese show us how we should embrace flaws and imperfections.”

Exactly.

We both can change. I’ve been working on myself, trying to improve.

But what if he doesn’t change?

What am I going to do—leave him?

Maybe I should help him pack.

He stays at the office too late and takes the long way home.

Do I want him to hurry home? To be ignored in person? I’d rather binge a Netflix series or disappear into a book. Anything to avoid him avoiding me.

I’m not going to be treated like I’ve been his life’s biggest disappointment.

And the things he accuses me of. Just grossly unfair.

Are there cracks in the foundation of my marriage? It’s been thirty years, Mr. Cardigan. We don’t have cracks; we’ve got fissures.

The Japanese got it right, though. Those cracks are ours. Maybe that keeps us together—that we’re perfectly imperfect.

But I’m not going to sit here in silence.

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These two again. Instead of focusing on the communication skills I’ve taught them, she’s mastered criticism and defensiveness, while he’s even better at stonewalling and showing contempt.

Next session I am going to have them repeat shoganai. Maybe they need to learn a little Japanese stoicism. Most times, life’s outcomes are not in our control.

But these two? They’d be better off in a cage match.

Above all, I hope their check clears.

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