Derwood J. Throckmorton lived in the hen-pecked husband world of oblivion. He figured it was easier to march to the beat of Gertie’s drum than pay the price for getting out of step with her agenda. On his fiftieth birthday that famous proverbial straw landed on the metaphorical camel. Derwood's bossy wife’s backseat ride through his gentle life took a new turn; one she never saw coming. It all started with yet one more instance of her rabid animosity to almost anything, written or spoken.
“Harrumph!” she hissed as they sat at the breakfast table eating overcooked eggs and burnt toast.
Derwood looked up from the section of newspaper she had given him, waiting for part two of her usual angry response to the nebulous world of they.
“Why do they call workers, who aren’t in management, blue collar? What if a CEO wears a blue shirt? Does his collar have to be white? It’s just so silly!”
Poor Derwood had learned to make vaguely appropriate and barely audible replies in the midst of her outbursts. This time, not content to rant without his confirmation, she kicked it up a notch.
“Well?” she yelled, red-faced and fuming.
“Well what, Gertie?”
“Don’t you think calling people blue collar workers is stupid?”
Before he could answer she shot off on a tangent.
“For that matter, I doubt if Bluebeard’s facial hair was blue and I know I’ve never seen a blue moon. Why can’t they say what they mean? Besides, I HATE blue!”
She fixed her glaring eyes on him as if he were king of the lexicon planet and could take to task the world of they. He cleared his throat to comment but his fast talking wife saw no need to pause. As she galloped on like a wild runaway horse Derwood slipped into that private place in his mind where she could not follow.
“Would you, for once, just disengage your motor-mouth, Gertrude?” he yelled in silence. “There are lots of blue things that make sense; pie, birds, suede shoes.”
Her lips were moving but all he heard was blah, blah, blah. All he saw was a cartoonish character with stringy hair and a ratty old bathrobe held together with a clothespin. All he felt was a deep sadness that he had let things deteriorate from their hopeful beginning, had lost his compass, and had put up with a nagging, spiteful woman. Today was a milestone in his life and here he sat, browbeaten to a pulp. A tear rolled down his once handsome face. Gertie stopped mid-sentence and sneered.
“What’s wrong with you?”
He looked at her as if seeing her for the first time. “I guess I’m just blue, Gertie.”
True to form, she felt obligated to challenge his choice of words.
“You may be a color, but it’s certainly not blue. You didn’t fall into a vat of grapes like Lucy. You’re getting oxygen and still breathing aren’t you?”
The Gertie-missile would shoot down any lame answer so he walked outside to sit in the sun. Something strange seemed to be happening to his insides. He put his face in his work-worn hands and moaned, “Dear God, help.”
The back door opened and the slap-slap sound of Gertie’s old rundown slippers headed in his direction. She bellowed as she waved a letter, “Mama needs surgery so I’m leaving on the afternoon bus.”
Long-suffering Derwood arose with a surprising new strength and energy.
“I have something to say, Gertie, and you’re going to listen.”
She blinked, stunned.
“Go to your ailing mother but don’t come back unless you’re willing to shape up and act like somebody with manners and kindness. Today the foolishness stops!”
Gertrude Throckmorton, queen of nastiness, boarded the 4:15 and did not look back.
A year later Gertie showed up again. She looked and acted totally made-over. Derwood was the soul of forgiveness and hospitality. He offered her some tea and waited. There was an audible gasp when she espied their wedding picture on the mantle. He pretended he hadn’t heard.
“Are you planning to stay for a while, Gert?”
She fiddled with her teacup and looked down. He went over and took her hand and pulled her to her feet. After his loving embrace she gazed up at him through tears.
“I see you painted the house, Derwood. It looks real nice…kind of like the sky.”
He smiled and thanked God for making a way when there seemed to be no way.
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