The Three Monkeys

Marge looked at the three bronze monkeys her husband brought home and shook her head. “Just where are you going to put those?”

“In the living room?” Tiller had hope.

“Over my dead body,” Marge said, and she meant it. Ten years she’d been married to this fool and it was always the same. He’d find some piece of junk, bring it home and end up tossing it out because there was no way Marge was going to let the damn thing into her house. Just once, she wished he’d ask her first.

The thing was that this was one of the things she loved about Tiller. His attraction to odd ball things. Curioddities, she called them. Unfortunately, the curioddities were not something a woman would want in her house.

“But I paid good money for them.” Tiller thought he was using logic on Marge.

Marge wasn’t buying. “Get your money back.”

“I can’t. It was a no return policy. You buy it, you keep it.”

“Figures,” Marge said and went back into her kitchen.

She was baking bread, and the aroma of the bread eased out to the living room. Tiller loved Marge’s bread. Nobody could make bread the way Marge did. He sneaked up behind his wife as she was checking the bread and put his arms around her.

“Get out of here.” She turned and pushed him away. “You get rid of those monkeys or there’s no bread or anything else from Marge, you hear?”

Of course, he heard. He always heard. Just once why wouldn’t she give in?

Marge went back to her baking while Tiller lingered for a few minutes. Her back told him she meant everything she said.

But he wanted those monkeys. He wanted to keep them bad. What to do?

Tiller was not a man to give up on his dreams. That was how he’d gotten Marge to marry him. He’d wore her down with his persistence.

He went back into the living room, took another look at the monkeys and shook his head. Something must be done. That was when he made up his mind to do what he’d been thinking about for quite some time. It would be the perfect solution. He would have his bread and eat it too.

He went over to the front door and opened it. He stuck a chair under its knob to hold it into place. Then he walked over and picked up the first monkey. Damn, it was heavy. He lugged Monkey See out the front door. Then it was back for Monkey Hear and Monkey Speak. He carried them into the garage and closed the garage door.

Later in the day, Marge heard some banging from the back yard. She walked out onto the porch. Tiller was building something over in the corner of the yard. What was he building? A shed. Damn fool, she said to herself.

Marge was having none of this either. She hurried over and tapped Tiller on the shoulder. Her husband turned around to face his wife. She said, “Not in my back yard.” She went to turn but Tiller stopped her.

“It’s not in your back yard,” he said with a big smile on his face.

“What do you mean,” she said. There was no smile on her face.

“I mean it’s not in your back yard.”

“Of course, it’s my back yard.”

“No, it’s my back yard.”

Marge couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “What?”

“I bought the house behind us. And the shed is in my back yard.”

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: Italy in the Spring

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is “Enchanted April” (1992):

Remember “Gilligan’s Island”. “Enchanted April” (1992) is not a three-hour tour. It is not a shipwreck. It is not “Gilligan’s Island”. It isn’t even “Survivor”. It could pass for “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Like that movie, it is a leisurely stroll through an Italian landscape that only be described as paradise.

How did four English women find themselves in Italy? A small ad in the newspaper. The newspaper was the 1920s version of the internet. For a small price, a person could see the world laid out before them.

Adapted from Elizabeth von Armin’s novel, the movie begins with two married women, Lottie Wilkins (Josie Lawrence) and Rose Arbuthnot (Miranda Richardson). They are stuck in England with some really lousy Spring weather. They see an advertisement offer to stay in medieval castle for the month of April. Not only do they get a castle, they get Italy on the Mediterranean.

When they see the ad, they say, “What fun.” At least, Lottie does. After some persistence, Rose is persuaded. Each has their own reason to get away from her husband for a month. Alfred Molina (of “Frida” fame) and Jim Broadbent (from “Topsy Turvy”) are the husbands Lottie and Rose leave behind.

Since it’s a bit expensive, the two of them ask two more to come along. Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright) is an older woman with her nose stuck in the air. Then she breaths in the Italian air and she is changed along with her three companions. Lady Caroline Dester (Polly Walker) is an attractive young aristocrat who is searching for direction.

Unfortunately, the Italian weather isn’t cooperating when Lottie and Rose arrive. But the next morning everything has changed. April is April and Italy is Italy. “Were you ever so happy?” Lottie asks Rose. Then the two come across Mrs. Fisher who speaks an “an ancient Italian, the Italian of Dante” and Lady Caroline who speaks “the kind of Italian the cooks understand”. I would say that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. But you’ll have to find out for yourself.

And what happens when the men show up.

If you are partial to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, this one is for you.

Charlie’s Hobby

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

June loved Charlie, and June knew Charlie loved her. But June believed Charlie loved the beach more. Early every Sunday morning for the last ten years or so, he picked up his paints, his easel and his canvas and took off for the beach. Five days a week he traded stocks with a large brokerage. Saturday he spent with June and the boys. Sunday was his.

After doing that for almost a year, June became suspicious of her husband. His disappearance on Sunday bothered her. From time to time, she thought Charlie might be having an affair.

June hired a detective. The detective watched Charlie from sun up to sundown and more. For a month he did this.

“Nothing,” he told June. “Your Charlie is one the best husbands I’ve ever seen. He loves you as much as George loved Gracie and Rickie loved Lucy” So June went back to trusting.

For five more years, Charlie did his Sundays. The completed canvases were backing up in the garage. There were over a thousand.

Then one Sunday morning, June woke up late and there was Charlie beside her. Usually by the time she woke, he was gone. She woke him up and asked, “Are you sick?”

“No,” Charlie answered.

June worried about this all week long. She figured it was a one-time thing, so she let it alone. But he stayed at home the next Sunday, and the Sunday after that. All those years of Charlie going to the beach. She had gotten used to it. It had become such a routine. And now it was over.

This went on for two months and it was driving June crazy. Not the concern about Charlie and the beach kind of crazy. The kind of crazy from worry that something bad was getting ready to happen. That kind of crazy.

Everything was the same as it had been for years. Charlie went off to his job every Monday through Friday. Sunday nights and Wednesday nights he took out the garbage. Thursdays were poker night. Fridays were their date night, then sex afterward. All day Saturday, Charlie was helping out at the house or going with June to do this or that or the other. Nothing had changed. Except Sundays.

Finally June suggested Charlie go to see a therapist. Her friend, Ellen, suggested a Dr. Reid. Ellen knew everything about therapists. There wasn’t a mental illness she had not had over the years. Some woman on tv had depression, Ellen had depression. Some man had schizophrenia, Ellen had schizophrenia. Then she’d go to Dr. Reid, and he’d perform a miracle. They’d cure her. It was her hobby.

Charlie, being an agreeable man, acquiesced to the suggestion. If therapy would make his wife happy, he would go to therapy. She made an appointment for him the next Wednesday. It would give him a break from the tedium of his job. Besides a little therapy couldn’t hurt.

He walked into Dr. Reid’s office. The therapist pointed to the couch. “So why are you here, Charlie?” Dr. Reid asked.

Charlie explained that he came at June’s urging. Then he went on to tell the therapist about her concerns.

“So why did you make the change? Stop going to the beach and painting? Why didn’t you change to another location?”

“Doc,” Charlie called the therapist Doc, “I love my wife. She is the only woman I’ve ever loved. I am a routine kind of guy. I like my routines. After a year of marriage, I noticed June getting antsy. Bored, you know. She needed some variety in her life. And I am not Mr. Variety. After giving it some thought, I came up with a solution. I would give her something to worry about. So I went off to the beach. The painting gave me something to do.”

“So why did you quit going to the beach?”

“Same reason. To keep my wife interested. For years, she had this hobby. Why does Charlie go to the beach and paint? Now she has a new hobby. Why did Charlie quit going to the beach? Just about the time she starts getting real bored with this hobby, I’ll have a new one. Let’s just say it brings some sparkle to our marriage.”

The Mail Order Bride

The farm. Well, it’s not a farm really. It’s where we live. My five children and I. My wife died a year ago when she was having Eleazar. We buried her over by the well house behind that small smattering of trees. Esther was twenty-four. We had been married ten years. I thought about leaving and moving to town, but this here farm is our livelihood and our life.

This farm which I inherited from Papa. Papa’s brother, my Uncle Elisha, said that I needed a new bride—a wife for me and a mother for the children, a woman to keep my loins warm.

I found this here Mail Order Bride Catalog at the General Store, looked through it, found myself a good woman—someone who looked like she could hold up through the winter—and I sent for her.

Tomorrow she arrives on the train from St. Louis. Me and the children and Uncle Elisha will hitch up the buggy and go into town and meet the noon train. That will give us enough time to get home before dark.

The Preacher will come and marry us next month. Me and my new wife and the kids and the neighbors will have ourselves a picnic to celebrate.

Next month is planting. She said in one of her letters she was raised on a farm. She knows all about farms. She is sixteen and seems plenty eager for a husband and children.

Before we leave for town, I visit Ruth’s grave as I do every Sunday. I thank her for the life she gave me in this here wilderness and tell her I miss her and tell her that she will never be replaced in my affections by another. She will always be my first love. I tell her of this new woman, how it was Uncle Elisha’s idea, how she will be my bride and the children’s other mother. I tell her that the children need a mother and hope she understands.

Then we hitch up the horse to the buggy and head on in to town.

The View

Manny and Hazel are a couple who have been married for 35 years. They are touring Europe for the first time. They are in Berlin and standing at the top in the dome of a government building. Hazel loves the view.

Manny, this is some view.

It ought to be. They spent a fortune on it.

C’mon, Manny, don’t be a spoil sport.

Who? Me? A spoil sport? I’m just pointing out the facts.

Why don’t you just enjoy the view?

We liberate these people from the Nazis. Spend a fortune. It’s cost us I don’t know how many lives. And they don’t pay us back.

Now, Manny, these Germans are nice people.

Under all those nice clothes we’re seeing are people that still owe us money.

Geez. Sometimes, Manny, I don’t know why I do it.

Do what?

Drag you along on these excursions. You’re nothing but a sourpuss. You know that?

Yes, Mrs. Sunshine. You never ever rain on my parade.

When do I rain on your parade? Tell me?

When I go play golf.

You know golf is such a stupid game. Now bridge, that’s a game.

Is not. It don’t take no skills to sit on your butt and play cards. Any doofus could do it.

You try it and see if it takes no skill. You’ll see.

I am not going to play bridge. I don’t care what you say. Oh, look. I can see where the Wall used to be. I bet I can see Russia from here too.

See. I told you it was a nice view.

Manny smiles and takes his wife’s hand.