ENID, Okla. —
A marriage is supposed to be based on trust, on knowing, in your heart of hearts, that you can trust your spouse implicitly (except, perhaps, when it comes to not leaving the toilet seat up or not squeezing the toothpaste from the middle of the tube).
You don’t inveigle one another, you don’t mislead, trick or prevaricate. Except when it comes to that age-old question, “Honey, does this make me look fat?” I ask that all the time.
That seed of trust is planted when you decide to spend the rest of your lives together, and it grows as the years go on. Trust is part and parcel of the love and sense of devotion couples feel for one another, or at least it should be.
My bride and I have been married for 37 years, and have been a couple for 38. Until recently, I would have trusted her with my life.
I have been betrayed, bamboozled, deceived, deluded, duped, flim-flammed, scammed, spoofed and storied to.
The sweet woman I married has gone behind my back and over my head. She has looked me in the eye and told untruths. She has performed an act of chicanery on me such that you wouldn’t believe.
But let me digress. One late September day marked the anniversary of my birth. Much to my chagrin, it has yet to be declared a holiday or a day of public celebration, but hope springs eternal.
At any rate, as the date approached, I came to work, only to find my desk swathed in gew-gaws and flotsam commemorating my 60th birthday. It was wrapped in crime scene tape, black streamers and banners containing the number 60 hung from the ceiling, a plastic skull with flashing eyes sat on my desk, while a wheelchair bearing the upper torso and skull of a skeleton sat where I normally do.
That afternoon, my bride arrived, bringing with her pizza, cake and pop for me and my fellow newsroom denizens, and we had a fine old time neglecting our work (but only for a few minutes, boss).
In the interest of full disclosure, this came not on my birthdate, but several days before. Still, it was a pleasant celebration of my advancing age.
Likewise, in the interest of full disclosure, I had casually mentioned (OK, I whined) several weeks earlier that it would be nice if I had a birthday party.
So, I thought, that was that.
The following Saturday evening, we were scheduled to attend a Sunday school party at our church. It was to be pot-luck, with food and fellowship, followed by games.
So off we went, salad in hand, but upon driving up to the church, noticed many more cars than should have been present for a Sunday school soiree.
“Why are there so many cars here?” my bride asked.
I fretted that our use of the family life center had been trumped by another group, but my bride assured me that our fete was on the calendar.
“Maybe it’s a wedding rehearsal, or a wedding,” she said as we pulled into a parking space.
It was then that we noticed the van of some friends, who have no affiliation with the church. The wife was helping her husband, who uses a walker, out of the van.
“What are they doing here?” I wondered aloud, then added, “This doesn’t make any sense.”
As we passed, my bride asked what they were doing there, and they couldn’t come up with a good answer. So we walked into the church, puzzled.
Then we passed a table containing a basket filled with cards and a guest book, topped by a balloon reading “Happy Birthday.”
As we walked through the door into the family life center, a whole bunch of people stood up and said “surprise,” and “happy birthday,” and the like.
And my mouth first fell open, then curled up into a stupid grin I wore the rest of the evening. The room was filled with friends and family members, some I haven’t seen in many years. I hadn’t laid eyes on Dale Kelso, a former News & Eagle colleague, since sometime in the 1980s. Another N&E expatriate, columnist Brian Painter of the Daily Oklahoman, was on hand. He began his career here as a part-time sports writer. My college roommate and his wife were there. Oh, the stories he could tell, but I’m grateful he didn’t.
There was food, there was entertainment, there was far too little time to even wave to everyone in attendance.
It was a great evening, one I’m sure I’ll never forget.
But neither will I forget that I can no longer trust my bride. She began planning the event in February, it seems, and she had been plotting, planning, conspiring and scheming all that time.
She sneaked around and stockpiled ingredients and decorations for months on end. As soon as I left for the office, she would go to work on the party planning, and would put everything away before I came home.
I wondered why she was so tired all the time and why the dinners she fixed were becoming simpler by the day.
It was all part of her clever plot, her elaborate ruse, her delicious deception, which resulted in me being bilked, buffaloed, cozened, deluded, ensnared, entrapped, fooled, outwitted and tricked.
And I loved every minute of it, and her, bless her sneaky little heart.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at email@example.com.