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The Guise
By John Hunt

It has well been said that there are very few certainties in life. In fact, if you ask some people, they would tell you that there are really none at all – that everything that occurs in life is the result of a sequence of obscure, unreliable anomalies.

On the other hand, others may assert that each and every moment in life is a kind of predestined certainty, if you will; that occurrences are all a result of precedent phenomena that can in no way be prevented.

If you were to ask Benjamin Franklin, he would say that there are two certainties in life – death and taxes. While those are definitely two irrefutable certainties, if you ask me, I say there are a few more. Among them, there’s the faithful return of the swallows to Capistrano, the annual migration of retirees to Florida, and the radioactive constant of Uranium-235. And, of course, there’s the appearance, within every marriage, of The Honeydo List.

Any man that has been married for more than five minutes is familiar with The List. Its nefarious appearance in the midst of marital bliss is inevitable. The name itself seems innocuous enough, even palatable to the casual observer, but the stark truth of the matter is that the list – ascribed by this seemingly benign euphemism – is pure evil, and if found in time, must be burned.

For those not familiar with the list, let me surmise. The female subject, i.e. the wife, whilst going about her daily business, begins to annotate all of the various and sundry – how shall we say – preoccupations that she feels obliged to compel her husband to do. By preoccupations, I mean chores, tasks, capricious fancies, whims, etcetera. By compel, I mean to coerce, force, or strongly suggest under threat of serious harm to his golf clubs or his all-too-precious spectator-sports viewing apparatus (television). Then, at the most unpropitious moment – such as when the husband has golf clubs in hand on his way out to the car, or while he is relaxing with a cold beverage, watching the Big Game, she suddenly and with catlike precision pummels upon him with the list. The hapless lad’s plans now thwarted, he is forthwith subjugated to a weekend of servitude.

It was a warm, bright sunny day that day – the day I first learned about the list. I was looking forward to a day out with the fellas, possibly golfing or fishing, or some other activity; when suddenly, my beloved hastily intercepted my plans. Bushwhacked, bamboozled and hoodwinked, I soon found myself knee-deep in a variety of chores and activities that were completely unexpected on my part. Naturally, I would like to say that this was an isolated occasion, but alas, the occurrence repeated itself on multiple instances throughout the remainder of that year.

Now, it isn’t as if my wife is some sort of matrimonial killjoy, mind you, or that she is purposefully trying to ruin what would otherwise be a perfectly planned weekend; she simply can’t help herself. After all, it’s against her very nature to stand by idly while her husband lies on the couch watching NASCAR all day, or spends the day golfing while the grass is taller than the fence. In a sense, it’s as if the list writes itself.

We males, however, are not without resources (albeit covert ones) to combat the perils of the list. There is an ancient dark secret that operates within the lives of millions of men throughout the world – a secret that is so insidious that few individuals, particularly women, even know of its existence. I myself learned of this secret many years ago, and have thus far been constrained from revealing it. Only now am I compelled to expose it, but only with a great deal of trepidation. I’m not talking about the Trilateral Commission, or the Bilderberg Group, or even Skulls and Bones. What I am referring to is something that is much more far-reaching.

The secret of which I speak is one that has been passed down from generation to generation, from father to son, and from brother to brother. It is a secret that has been so well kept, so protected, that it has eluded discovery by the female gender for centuries. Oh, I know that I will probably be exiled for revealing it, banished forever from the order of the Brotherhood, but my wife is holding my golf clubs hostage until I reveal it, so fellas, from here on out, you’re on your own.

If the average citizen were aware of just how deceptive this secret could be, he or she would be shocked. Why, the ancient dark practice itself – an art form that can only be described as a kind of self-defense – doesn’t even have a name. So, henceforth I will simply refer to it as The Guise. Notice, that’s guise, not guys (pun intended).

I don’t recall my father ever actually teaching me the ancient dark art of The Guise; he was a man of few words. Make no mistake, though, he was a Grand Master. Everything I learned – all the rudimentary maneuvers and subtle explanatory vernacular – I gleaned from his example. Little did I know that my apprenticeship would be tasked upon my first year of marriage.

No one had to tell me to use the guise that infamous day. Nor did anyone warn me about its addictive power. Nonetheless, my indoctrination into the ancient dark practice occurred almost predictably and without reservation. I was performing the mundane, elementary task of changing a light bulb that evening, when I suddenly and with reckless abandon blurted out, "The monofilament capacitor malfunctioned. I have to run to the hardware store."

Did I say that? I was shocked at the words that came from my mouth. Like the nearly instinctual moves of a Special Forces field operative, or the catlike reflexes of a professional tennis player, I had performed the ancient dark art of The Guise. Now, I could have stopped there, quit cold turkey while I was ahead, but once the power of The Guise is unleashed, it is hard to resist. Soon, on such weekends whenever my wife produced the list, I found myself hanging out with the guys at the hardware store, chewing the fat with the fellas at the power tool rental shop, and swapping tales with the mechanics at the nearby auto repair shop. With practice, I had perfected my craft – from the finely-tuned facial expressions – like the blank expression stating I don’t know why you wouldn’t believe that it takes this long or the determined, this is the most difficult thing in the world to do look – to the professional jargon associated with the art, such as "the carbon inscribing device malfunctioned (broken lead on a pencil)" or, my personal favorite, "the self-contained, portable direct current facilitator is depleted" (the batteries are dead). My weekend life, in essence, had methodically become one colossal ruse.

I am happy to say that I am now a reformed Guise-aholic, thanks to the Blood of Jesus’ One Step Program – hence the point of this exposé. While it may seem innocuous on occasion to perform The Guise, the practice itself is a form of deception, which is a sin. Leviticus 19:11 tells us not to lie or deal falsely one to another. Additionally, Proverbs 12:22 says that lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but they that deal truly are his delight. You see, once the lie is unleashed, you have to nurture it. You then tell lies to cover your lies, and soon you become a slave to your sin. The old rhyme holds true. Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive. Through it all, there is only one hope.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 KJV)

So, the next time you are heading out the door with golf clubs in hand, and your wife intercepts you with the dreaded list, try inviting her for a round, or two. It could buy you a reprieve from the list. And, who knows? She might just give you your clubs back.
John Hunt is a husband, author, and extraordinarily mediocre golfer who lives near Chicago, Illinois with his wife of ten years and three children. He is the author of the novel, In The Image of the Beast and the children’s book, The Mistaken Stone, both of which are awaiting publication.

LIFE LESSONS FROM 2004:
I've learned my twelve-year-old daughter is sometimes right. I am not always right. Oh, darn! (Joanne Malley)



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