LAST HURRAH: Love Is…

Asking your wife—nicely—not to leave her car out in a hailstorm.

Normally this space is filled with claptrap that never quite delivers the laughs we all wish it would. Not this month. This month I have actual reader service to impart, something you can use. I am going to tell you how to have a happy, long-lasting marriage. And because studies have shown that people absorb information better when it is presented anecdotally, I am going to tell you a story.

The other day it hailed in our part of town, near White Rock Lake. Nothing apocalyptic, just the pea-size stuff that can make your car less attractive to people who prefer smooth, clean lines, thereby forcing you to file an insurance claim to repair the car if you don’t have a lot of ready cash on hand and if you have hopes of ever selling the car. I got caught in the hailstorm on the way home from work but found refuge under a church’s porte-cochere. Lucky me.

Imagine my shock and awe, however, when I arrived home to find My Fair Lady’s car parked in the driveway, clearly having just been hailed upon and clearly sitting a mere five feet from our clearly wide-open garage. An important aside: as you’ve gathered, we are a two-car family. Perhaps you, too, have two cars and a wife and a house someplace in Texas. Perfect. This reader service is tailored to meet the needs of someone with exactly that demographic profile.

I don’t know how you operate the motor pool at your house, but at our house, My Fair Lady drives the “magic car.” That’s what our 6-year-old boy calls our Audi A4, on account of its electric retractable rear sun shade. The magic car, despite being practically brand-new, also has bald tires that need replacing because My Fair Lady refuses to keep them properly inflated.

I drive “Dad’s car.” It is a Volkswagen Jetta with nearly 100,000 miles on it. Our automobile assignments were made this way because My Fair Lady ferries around the boy more than I do, and the Audi has side airbags. Theoretically, it is a safer car. Though that initial assessment did not account for underinflated, bald tires.

Back to the anecdote: I parked Dad’s car. By then, the rain had stopped. I examined the magic car, crouching to scan the contour of its fine German-made hood. I didn’t see any damage. But that wasn’t the point. The point was, it could have been damaged. I pushed through the kitchen door, seeking an explanation.

“Tell me you didn’t leave the magic car out in a hailstorm, just five feet from our open garage,” I said. And because women have small ears that make it difficult for them to hear, I said it loudly.

“I was afraid of getting hurt,” she said. “I heard the hail and looked outside, but I didn’t think it was safe to get the car. People have been killed.”

Here’s where I really shone as a husband and father. “What?” I said. “Are you serious? You can’t possibly be serious. You thought it would kill you? To death? Have you ever heard that force equals mass times acceleration? Is that equation news to you? Those hailstones were pea-size. The only way they were going to kill you was if you had walked outside and stared up at the sky with your mouth open. Maybe—maybe—you could have choked to death. Depends on how quickly hail melts in your mouth.”

I went on to explain the concept of kinetic energy and speculate how many joules, roughly, a pea-size hailstone could generate. I also cited precedent, reminding her that even in 1995, when softball-size hailstones slammed into thousands of Mayfesters in Fort Worth, no one was killed. It was a lot of information for My Fair Lady to take in all at once. She left the house to reflect on it.

The boy was in the kitchen, too. So he got an early lesson on both physics and meteorology. It’s the sort of reader service he’ll remember fondly when he’s older.

By now the key to having a happy, long-lasting marriage should be clear to you. Just to be sure, I’ll state it plainly: you should marry a woman like My Fair Lady, who is terrified of cockroaches and who cannot possibly live without an in-house exterminator, no matter how big an insensitive ass he is.

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