At some point during my first year of marriage, I originated a exciting coping technique, which I call “conversation retire.” (I know: it needs tuning. Let me know if you can think of something better). "Conversation retire" works pretty much like it sounds. Once a certain conversation topic has come up a certain number of times (43), without in any way drawing close to a resolution, either one of us is allowed to declare that that topic is, from that day forward, banned from public consumption. It has been “retired.” We could think about it; we just couldn’t talk about it.
Almost immediately, it proved a hit. Gone for good were the most emotionally agitating (and dialectically unsatisfying) of our conversations. For example: Angelina Jolie. My wife, as it turns out, has a LOT of anger towards Angelina Jolie. Probably, she should. I don’t know. But I have now heard about the many faces of Angelina Jolie’s evil enough times to be able to recite them all by heart. Even worse, despite how frequently it comes up, the subject STILL sends my wife into something approaching a frenzy. So, in the interest of the common good, I’ve had to have it banned.
Other topics that we’ve decided to ban include: Oprah Winfrey (Who, Even Though She May Not Be As Evil As A********* J****, Is, in Reality, MUCH Worse than Certain Naïve Unknowing Husbands Might Suspect); Felipe, Our Ex-Housepainter, And How Stupid We Were Not To Have Done A Last Inspection Of Our In-Fact-Badly-Painted House Before We Paid Him; The Unbelievable Gall of Certain Friends of My Wife Who Never Bought Us A Wedding Present (Despite The Fact That Some Were Actually Members of The BRIDAL PARTY); Jon and Kate Gosselin, Relationship and Parenting Skills Thereof; Hugh Hefner, Relationship and Business Acumen Thereof; and, finally, above all else, THE TOPIC—the one for which the whole idea of ‘retiring’ conversations was originated…Michael Vick. More specifically: How Michael Vick, As Punishment For His Crimes, Deserves the Death Penalty.
Ok, now understand. I don’t like Michael Vick. I didn’t like him before the dogfighting stuff came out. I like him less now. He’s a terrible person, and deserves to be permanently banned from public life. But I don’t think he should be put to death. And my wife, hyperbole aside, actually did. And does.
This ended up becoming a long-running debate. Her side of the argument was that after he got out of jail, he would re-sign with another team, make a lot of money playing football and eventually be totally rehabilitated. In a few years, it would all be forgotten; therefore to make sure that didn't happen, he should be executed. Really.
My argument was that it wasn't necessary. Even before the dogfighting stuff, Vick was on the way down. He was never better than a second-tier quarterback. He couldn’t pass; he wasn’t a great leader; he wasn’t well-liked. Add to that the massive public outcry that would greet any team crazy enough to sign him, and there was no way—NO WAY, I explained (in the Knowledgeable, Man-Who-Understands Sports voice I trot out from time to time)—that he would ever play again in the NFL.
You all know what happened. Somehow—stunningly—my vast insight into the mechanisms of pro football has proven insufficient. Vick’s been given one more chance. My wife, it saddens me to say, was totally 100% right. (Which suggests, by the way, that Angelina Jolie lives entirely on the blood of slaughtered kittens). It makes me sad. It makes me angry. It makes me want to root against the Eagles.
I started this thinking I’d write a funny post about the travails of marriage. Now, though, I’ve become upset. I was grouchy (well, grouchier) all last week because the Bink was going through some sort of unhappy emotional phase (it manifested itself in a lot of mean-spirited growling and excess barking). Literally 1/3 of my waking involves me worrying in some way about his happiness. And I don’t even like animals! Meanwhile, Michael Vick is charging money so people can come watch dogs fight to the death!? I mean…what the bleep is that?
I guess no one deserves to be punished forever, but somehow this seems to have all gone away so fast. I just feel like somehow there is something deeply wrong with Vick. Anyone who would willingly inflict pain upon something innocent and helpless is profoundly broken. And two years in jail is not enough. The death penalty may be too much. But this.... This is not enough. It can't be. It just can't.
What a great guy!