As New Year’s resolutions go, Brenda had a very strange one indeed. Unlike many of her friends, she didn’t need to lose weight, not even a few pounds. She didn’t need to floss her teeth more often or read more self-help books or make a greater effort to stay awake in church. She didn’t have any serious addictions she needed to quit: she didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, didn’t manage a farm on Facebook. But she did want to quit something –- and that’s what her resolution was all about. She wanted to quit calling her husband a moron.
Brenda and Ron had been married for 20 years, and Brenda couldn’t remember a time when Ron hadn’t given her a reason to call him a moron –- or at least think he was one. She loved him, of course –- loved him as much as she loved Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. But that didn’t change the fact that she often wondered if his mother had dropped him on his head when he was a baby.
Poor Ron had actually gotten used to it -– being called a moron. It started on their wedding night –- at least that’s what he thought when he heard her screaming, “More Ron! More Ron!” He immediately stopped what he was doing and tried something else: turning on the TV. And soon they were in a state of bliss, watching an episode of “Baywatch.”
Two weeks later, Brenda called him a moron for real. It was one of those nights when she returned home late from her job at the pharmacy. He had offered to make dinner for her, but had left the frozen pizza in the oven for too long. “Sorry, I was distracted by the football game,” he said. “It’s a good thing the plastic wrapping didn’t melt.”
Brenda didn’t want to call him a moron, but as she stared at the plastic stuck to the melted cheese, she couldn’t think of a more appropriate term. And she soon found herself using it with regularity. There was the time that Ron took her bottle of Pantene Pro-V from the bathroom and used it to shampoo the living room carpet. There was the time he brought the wrong baby home from the daycare and wondered why it kept asking for “Mami” and “Papi.” And there was the time he put laundry detergent in the automatic dishwasher, just so he could throw in a few dishcloths.
Ron was so used to being called a moron that it hardly even bothered him anymore. She might as well have been saying “honey” or “sweetheart.” It had almost become a special thing between them. No one else could call him a moron and get away with it.
But Brenda often felt guilty about it. After all, he wasn’t really a moron. That’s what Brenda’s mom said. “He’s not a moron,” she said. “He’s just a man. Men don’t always use their brains. They use it for football and fixing the car, but then they shut it off. They give it a break. That’s why they need women.”
It was true: Ron did need Brenda. And she certainly needed him. That’s why their marriage had lasted so long. Sure, Ron didn’t always use his brain, but he was a good husband in all the important ways. He didn’t cheat on her or hit her or even raise his voice at her –- unless she walked in front of the TV during the football game.
Brenda was determined not to call him a moron anymore. It was her only New Year’s resolution and it lasted all the way until 9 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Brenda awoke to find Ron making breakfast for her. He had already made the eggs, hash browns and sausages, and was working on the pancakes. There he was, standing in front of the stove, wearing an apron, whistling happily as he tried to flip the pancakes with the fly swatter.
“You’re such a moron,” Brenda said. “How much did you drink last night, anyway?”
Then, realizing all the trouble he had gone through, she put her arm around him and added, “Did I call you a moron? I was using the acronym MORON. It stands for ‘Man of Remarkably Outstanding Nature.’”
Melvin Durai’s humourous novel “Bala Takes the Plunge” is now available in North America through McNallyRobinson.com It’s also available at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. Read the latest reviews here.