February 2014
Through the Fence

Marital Miscommunication

The key to a successful marriage is good communication. You’d think after 25 years of marriage, my husband and I would have it down pat. In fact, we’ve been married so long and been through so much together that we shouldn’t even have to speak at all. Surely hand gestures, eye contact and mental telepathy should be sufficient. Au contraire!Too many disagreements have begun with the words, "I thought …" and "You said …." Well, it does give me some twisted sense of satisfaction that after many years together, other couples still have verbal train wrecks.

One of my friends’ parents had a major marital miscommunication after they’d been married a few decades. My friend Kristi was a teenager at the time. Her dad Roy Don was just coming in from feeding the livestock. He was pulling his muddy rubber boots off on the back porch when he spied a big black snake coiled under the downspout on the corner of the house. He didn’t want to take a chance on the snake being gone if he went in after his gun. So he hollered at his wife Linda to bring his .410. She was busy making chicken gravy in a big wrought iron skillet on the stove. I know from years of making this wonderful concoction that you can’t be interrupted while cooking it. So she ignored her husband and kept on stirring and adding milk until the consistency was just right, and then slid the skillet off the burner.

When she didn’t come right away, Roy Don hollered at her again to please bring the .410 shotgun. He was of the opinion that the only good snake was a dead one, and he just needed her to bring it to him right away. Kristi and her little sister were sitting on the sofa in the living room watching and listening as the situation unfolded. They were just surprised and relieved that he hadn’t asked one of them to fetch the gun, since they were usually the ones dispatched for such chores.

They were even more surprised when their mama stormed through the dining room right past the gun cabinet and into the garage. The two teenage girls just looked at each other and shrugged. They heard the sound of drawers and cabinets being opened and shut and rifled through, and the muffled sound of their mother muttering something about always having to drop whatever she was doing and come tend to him.

Finally, she emerged and burst out the back door to where her husband was waiting rather impatiently.

"Here ya go!" she said in an aggravated voice as she thrust a can of WD-40 into his hands.

He was dumbfounded.

"What the heck?" he asked her along with a few more colorfully worded rhetorical questions.

"I asked for my .410 shotgun so I could shoot that snake over there. What am I supposed to do with this?" he spluttered. "Grease him to death?"

When it dawned on her the whole ridiculousness of the situation, she burst out laughing.

"Well, Roy Don, I could hardly hear you over the noise of the kitchen vent. I didn’t know why you needed me to stop what I was doing to bring that to you at that very instant."

Her husband couldn’t stifle his laughter but still wasn’t going to be deterred from his mission.

"You stand right here," he said, "and I’ll be right back."

In a few minutes, the snake had been shot and hauled off to the pasture, and the happy couple was able to get to the table while the gravy was still hot.

Lisa Hamblen Hood lives near Priddy, Texas, where she teaches English, Art and Spanish. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..