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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Communication Breakdown (12/16/10)

TITLE: The Stepford Clergyman
By Gregory Kane


I reach out and give my wife an affectionate tap on the backside as she glides past me down the aisle. She doesn't protest but I can tell from the skip in her step that she appreciates the attention.

My wife is a changed woman. Passionate in the bedroom, courteous in polite company, fastidious around the house, concerned for my every need. A far cry from the sorry mess we found ourselves in only eighteen months ago. Being a clergyman, divorce is not something I would ever have considered lightly. But, were it not for the grace of God and the ministrations of Dale Coba, I have no doubt that Sandy and I would have gone our separate ways.

As I watch her taking her seat in front of the Willis pipe organ, it's hard to recall the woman she used to be. My sermons were never good enough, my suit hung on me like a crumpled sack, I invariably sang off-key, my handshake was limp and my greetings banal. In her eyes I was a disappointment as a minister, as a husband, as a lover, and as a man.

My appointment to the Stepford Episcopalian Church was a last-ditch attempt to hold our marriage together. The setting in rural Connecticut was idyllic, far from the pressures and expectations of big city life. Everyone seemed so genuinely happy, the schools were well run, the crime rate was low, and (the thing that most attracted me to Stepford) the town hadn't seen a divorce in twenty years.

I loved the place from the day I arrived. Dale dragged me along to the Men's Association and I instantly felt at home. My backhand improved no end as did my golf handicap. And I thoroughly enjoyed the sense of camaraderie as we men played cards together or simply nursed our glasses of brandy. I had never had so many male friends before. Churches tend to attract women, that's just a fact. Those few husbands who found their way to our table for Sunday lunch were often insipid, browbeaten specimens of the male species.

Sandra's reaction to Stepford was completely different. She loathed the other woman with their fascination for flower-arranging, basket-weaving and every aspect of housework. What irked her the most was that no one would criticise their husbands. Every time she began to whinge about one of my shortcomings, one of the other wives would immediately tell her off for gossiping.

Three months after we arrived, Sandra was all set to leave. Joanna and Walter Eberhart, our best friends in Stepford, begged her to stay but there was no talking to the woman. Eventually Dale came to see me and explained about the Change. I was appalled at first. Who wouldn't be? But there was no denying the obvious benefits. Two nights later I took Sandra along to the Men's Association and the rest, as they say, is history.

The opening bars to Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor bring me back to my senses. Sandra gives me a gentle nod, reminding me that I need to be getting ready for the processional. The church is reasonably full today. All of the wives are here and most have brought their children with them. It's a delight preaching to such a compliant congregation, knowing that they will drink in my every word and then compliment me for my sermon as we shake hands by the door. A few of the men have joined their wives but not many. I appreciate that it's hard not to feel guilty about what we've done. That's why I tend to preach a lot about man being made in the image of God and the importance of wives submitting to their husbands. God hates divorce, the Bible says so. Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him her Master. I don't honestly believe that the Good Lord is going to blame us for putting things back the way they were meant to be.

Funny enough, I sometimes miss our rows. Sandra and I could scream at one another for an hour at a time. But afterwards we would take ourselves off to bed and remind each other of the extent of our love. These days we never fight. We don't even talk, not really. Sandra constantly tells how much she loves me, but of course she's been programmed to do so. Stepford has blessed me with the perfect wife. What man would choose to have it any other way?


Based on the Stepford Wives by Ira Levin, adapted for the cinema by William Goldman

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This article has been read 564 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sarah Heywood12/23/10
Hmmm - I may need to read this one again to get the full impact of what you're attempting to convey. Very interesting!
Mona Purvis12/23/10
It's been awhile since I saw that movie, never read the book. I found the movie starnge, so it goes to say this is out there as well. The use of the clergyman was pretty abstract, but it got me to thinking.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/27/10
Well done--well done. Indeed, who would want a wife who could think for herself! (However, she sounded at first like she really needed somewhat of an "adjustment.")
Noel Mitaxa 12/27/10
This guy needs to realise that behind every successful man there is

an astounded mother-in-law!
Nice application of the original satire.
Cheryl Harrison12/28/10
If I recall, even though the wives were so compliant, things didn't end well for the men. Communication breakdown on steroids. :o)

Great story-telling here.
Sara Harricharan 12/29/10
Hmmm an interesting twist on this one. You had a unique approach to the topic.
Edmond Ng 12/30/10
I particularly like the part about settling things before going to bed, reminding one another the extent of each other’s love. Yes, we ought always not to let the sun go down on our anger (Ephesians 4:26).

Here’s a thought, however ... is changing our environment good or is taming ourselves to adapt better? As believers, may we in our heart of hearts always seek for the interest of our other half to love and cherish mutually, and never to cross the line in suppressing the other through ‘programming’ to teach obedience.

Interesting read!

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/04/11
You do an outstanding job with your delightful tongue-in- cheek sense of humor. Underneath it all is a wonderful message.