Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Key

I suppose it is possible that what originally appears to be completely ludicrous, idiotic and just plain dumb, in retrospect, can make perfect sense.  It turns out that one person can believe that another person's actions are completely nonsensical and ridiculous when, in reality, they are highly intelligent and useful.  I am saying this because, yesterday, something I have been ridiculing for many years turned out to be the very thing that kept a huge mistake on my part from becoming a catastrophe.

The thing I am talking about, the thing I have belittled and laughed at for eons, is my husband - or, rather, a particular practice he has persisted in with no regard for my repeated criticism and disapproval.  I have even gone as far as mocking him publicly, making him the subject of my sometimes sarcastic and scornful comedy act.  I was so certain that I, being far more clever and intelligent, had an indisputably superior understanding of, well, of everything.

So, here's the deal:

This thing my husband does, this thing that, to me, has never made even a smidgen of sense, is that he keeps our spare car keys in our car.  I have, from the day I met the man, spouted innumerable flaws in this practice.  For instance, if you lock your primary set of keys in your car - then all your  keys will be locked inside your car - defeating the purpose of the spare key.  Another example - say some no-account hoodlum, out looking for trouble,  were rifling through that car, late at night, hoping to find some spare change, a neglected i-pod, or a G.PS., but instead came across the keys to that very car.  I can almost hear his uncontrollable giggling while driving away - and who could blame him?

Well, with disregard to my unwavering logic,  ignoring all of my mocking and jeering - he remained steadfast.  He provided no explanation, remained quiet in his resolve, and simply, unassumingly, refused to change his ways.  It was as if he somehow knew that, in time, his wisdom would become apparent.  He had some mystical, psychic foreknowledge that the time would come when his stubborn, senseless insistence on keeping the one extra set of keys in the car would be essential in salvaging a potentially disastrous situation - a situation caused by me - by a blunder for which I must take full responsibility.

The Story:

Some friends of ours were going out of town for several weeks, and asked us to come to their house twice a day to take care for their very sweet and much beloved dog.  They gave us the key to their house, and I, acting with great brilliance and trustworthiness,  put the key onto our own keyring so that it would not get lost.  Yesterday was the first day of our dog guardianship.  Because we care about our friends, and know how sorrowful they would be if anything tragic happened to their darling pet, we felt a great sense of responsibility.  Therefore my son, Elijah, and I very prudently drove to the house in the morning,  letting the dog out into the yard. As instructed, we returned in the evening to fill his both his food and water, sit with him to stave off his loneliness, and bring him safely into the house for the evening.  We were feeling quite admirable about our superior performance, and, with an arrogant sense of pride, we locked the doors and departed.

Unfortunately, we had overlooked one tiny detail.  You see, before fulfilling our promise to our friends, we had been visiting my mother at her house.  When the time came to care for the dog, I chose to use my mother's car instead of my own.  I did remember, however, to take my keys so that we would be able to let ourselves into the house.  Upon completion of the job, we returned to my mother's house to retrieve the remainder of our family and our car.  We walked into the house, swaggering with the pride of a job well done.  Suddenly, it hit me - .I had overlooked one exceedingly significant detail.  We had let ourselves into the house with the key - the key that I had attached to our car keys - the key that was now sitting on the counter of the house - the house that we had so carefully and deliberately locked.

I was momentarily overwhelmed by the implications of my grave error.  That poor dog, the treasured companion of our good friends, was locked in a house, his family gone for weeks, with only a modest amount of food and water, sad and alone - and there was no access to him.  Magnifying the problem, my own house was locked - my own pets in danger of loneliness and starvation as well.  My car was sitting right there in front of my mothers house, but without keys it was rendered immovable - we were all stranded.  Foremost in my mind, however, was the image of the sorrowful faces of our friends when they returned to find their dog - the dog they had entrusted to me - lying on the floor starved and neglected, locked away in the prison that my neglectfulness had created.  But then - I remembered - I had a vision of hope - a single happy idea entered my mind - could that darling idiot of a husband of mine have actually been right all along?

With optimism, humbleness and sweetness, I asked,  "Milan, do you still have those spare keys hidden in our car?"

He gazed at me with understanding and empathy, and in his mild and unassuming manner, he simply answered "Yes."

He, without boasting, without displaying signs of bravado, without gloating or bragging, calmly retrieved the keys that had become a symbol of our differing views.  The keys that had made him the object of my derision and degradation for so many years.  Then, with a quiet sense of assuredness about him, he drove me back to to the house of our friends, quickly discovered an accessible entryway, and valiantly recovered the forgotten keys.

I thought of the many times I had  taunted this man and demeaned him - always laughing gleefully.  In the end, however, the very thing that I had scorned had come to my rescue.  I gazed over at my husband, feeling sheepish. He, however, did not utter one word of condescension or superiority.  He sent not even one haughty glance in my direction.  He remained steady and tranquil - like the farmer from Babe.

So - I must now accept that there may be times when I am wrong - when something that seems completely ridiculous to me may be perfectly sensible from another's standpoint.  I now admit to the possibility of wisdom in acts that initially appear nonsensical and laughable.  I have been humbled by this occurrence, and, in the future, I will remember that other's ideas, while not easily understood, may be based on reasons both sound and intelligent.

So, at least for today, I cannot say, with my usual conviction, that my husband is an idiot. However,  I feel I must add that not being able to call him an idiot makes him more annoying than ever!

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