It seems like I've been just that much too late for every great invention of the past century. They invented the automatic dishwasher just after I'd discovered the joy of paper plates, large-screen TV's just after I deemed there was nothing worth watching, and now that I'm stuck in this marriage with Long Suffering, they come up with the idea for the Exploratory Committee. It seems as if no one is actually running for the job of President of the United States, they're busy exploring the job with committees. Why didn't I think of that?
It happens every year. I'll be walking out of church full of the joy of the Lord and Ellen Morrison will catch me in mid-handshake to ask me if I'll be chairman of the fellowship committee. True, the fellowship committee does nothing. I mean, either we like each other or we don't, and no committee's gonna make much headway to improve or detract from 40 years of just living with each other. And that's exactly what makes the job so frustrating....creating opportunities for fellowship among folks who've already make up their minds to dislike each other.
But Ellen knows that I can't stop in the middle of "the handshake of peace" and say no to fellowship, so I'm always stuck. If I'd only have known about the advantage enjoyed by our presidential candidates and simply said, "Ellen, I can't give you an answer to that question right now. I must first form an exploratory committee." And I mean, after all, the woman's a Methodist. How could she possibly disagree with forming a committee?
East Jaysus Junior Cadets always knock on my door this time of year to sell me their cookies. I have nothing against Juniors or Cadets or even door knocking, but the last thing a couple of elderly, artery-clogged, old poops need is a carton of sugar, fat and chemical additives. I swear that they pick the cutest little waif in town to knock on my door. She looks up at me with those pleading eyes that seem to imply that her puppy will die if I don't buy her Hoody-Ho's and I'm hooked. Throw them away, you say? I've got all the willpower of a congressman on a junket to Honolulu, hons. Like a bad replay of the movie "Field of Dreams," build the cookie and I will come and eat it.
If only I'd have known about The Committee. "Honey, I'd love to buy your Peanut Butter Patooties but the economy and my health being what they are, I'm afraid that I'll first have to form an Exploratory Cookie Committee. Check back with me next week."
I might even put it on my answering machine. "If you are calling with gossip, press 1 and I will answer immediately. For prayer chain requests, please press 2 and I'll drop to my knees. If you are trying to sell me something, press 3 and speak to my exploratory committee. And don't expect a fast response. It takes a very long time to explore jerks and idiots."
Here I've spent all these years being put into tight situations with my learning disability (I'm a soft touch) when all I really had to do was take the chicken-hearted way out and claim to be forming a search committee. Oh, the agony I could have avoided so easily.
The Presidential Exploratory Committee is actually just a harkening back to the days of the candidates' high school proms. Any teen worth his aftershave knows that you don't just come out and ask a girl to prom. You explore the territory first before offering the official invitation. You ask a friend of a friend if he'd ask her friend if maybe she might want to sort of go to the prom with you. Anything to avoid the shame of rejection. Like a presidential candidate, you form your own private exploratory committee whose sole purpose is to find out "Does anyone like me?"
Which brings me back to Long Suffering. The reasons for our matrimony are lost in the wicked mists of history and poor circulation, but I'm sure that if I'd have known then what I know now that I'd be living in a condo on Maui with someone who can make a longer sentence than "Uh-huh" and "Sure, whatever." Long Suffering would now be blessed with a wife who likes to cook and thought that breaking ice for two hours a day was just pure bliss.