Daze of My Life/I Was an April Fool
by Kenneth B. Lourie
You would think that after 25 years of marriage and 18 premarital months associating with one another, I wouldn’t be so totally clueless as to my wife, Dina’s, intentions, when she called me on APRIL 1 at 9:50 in the morning, on her way in to work, to tell me that she had a flat tire a mere 10 minutes from our house. Too far, unfortunately, to risk driving home; not close enough to any service station to patch the tire if possible; two hours away from an AAA rescue - due to the weather and timing of the call, she said they said; and pouring down rain to make any car-related breakdown more unpleasant. Thankfully, Dina had a cell-phone to make her calls, or at least that was my initial reaction, a reaction that lasted about five excruciating minutes, for me anyhow.
As it happened, I was sitting at my desk in McLean, finally, after a worse-than-usual 75-minute a.m. commute, when my cell-phone rang and I heard Dina’s voice. “How’s it going?” I asked.
“I got a flat tire,” she said.
“Where?” I inquired.
“Near Briggs Chaney Road.”
“Oy.” (That was me.) “Did you call AAA?”
“Yeah,” Dina answered, “but they can’t get here for two hours, and I have to get to work. Can you come and change the tire?” Groan.
“But I just got here myself. I have things to do. If I come home now (a reverse commute and another 75-minutes drive) to change your tire, I can’t come back to work - again. It doesn’t make any sense. Besides, I need to go to Potomac later in the day for something, and then I was going to Gaithersburg to visit my father in the hospital and... I just don’t know how I can...”
“Very nice, Dina. You got me.” Click.
I should have known. But a man’s wife or child or parent calling for help, specifically car-related, is certainly in the realm of plausibility, so I had no reason to suspect that the story I was hearing was a setup.
But I was “set up like a bowling pin, knocked down against the where I’ve been... “ Dina played me like a Stradivarius, appealing to my sense of spousal responsibility and husbandly duty. She knows that I believe I’m supposed to come to her rescue, as I have in the past. In fact, that was me changing her car’s flat tire on Aspen Road Northwest, adjacent to Walter Reed Army Hospital, when she last flattened out, in the rain, again. So not only was Dina in distress now, she was in a type of distress in which a similar call had been made previously and responded to by yours truly in the manner in which she was requesting. So she had me. It was simply a matter of how long she was going to let me squirm before...
Five minutes. That’s how long, approximately, our conversation lasted, with me thinking out loud and examining all my travel/appointment/work options, and with Dina listening and responding to my dilemma, before she finally took pity on my soul and uttered those two day-saving words.
I wasn’t mad at her, too much. I was more mad at myself. How could I be so duped? How could I be so oblivious to my wife’s ploy? Does April 1 mean so little to me? Have I never pulled a prank on someone on April Fool’s Day and watched him suffer before relieving his or her pain by calling out “April Fool?”
But Dina, I should have known better. April 1 is one of her favorite days. Well, it won’t happen again, at least that I’ll openly admit and write about, anyway. I don’t have much of an ego, but I do have my pride.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, I’m a sap.
Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.