Long ago in a different time I worked at a packinghouse to support my wife’s and kids’ addiction to food, clothing and heat. One day a guy I worked with told me he had joined the ‘Possum Club.
I studied him suspiciously. “You, who won’t buy Girl Scout Cookies from my daughter, joined a benevolent organization to raise money for charity?” I asked.
First of all the ‘Possums are not a benevolent organization,” he said. “They’ll let anyone join—I’m a Methodist, and they don’t care—and it’s not about raising money for charity. It’s about beer and poker.”
“Of course. How could I not see that,” I said. It started to make sense.
“It’s like this,” he explained. “After the meetings they stay at the lodge and drink beer and play poker until the wee hours of the morning. I love drinking beer and playing poker. But if I told my wife that I’m going out to drink beer and play poker until after midnight once a week, she’d yell at me for a half-hour and maybe leave me. I can’t have that. Nobody makes a pecan pie like she does.
“So I tell her I’m going out to raise money for poor, homeless, disease-plagued, handicapped orphans in Africa, and she says, ‘Awwwwe,’ and makes me a pecan pie.
“I’ve got it made. Every Wednesday I have pecan pie for dessert then go out and play poker and drink beer, and I’m a hero in my wife’s eyes.”
I had to admit the guy had a racket going. But it doesn’t work for everyone.
One Friday night my wife came into the living room while I was watching TV. She was carrying what looked like a handwritten copy of War and Peace.
“What you got there, Sweetheart?” I asked.
“It’s your honey-do list for this weekend,” she said. “The other half is up on the kitchen table. I’d like you to start with cleaning out the rain gutters first.”
Right away I knew I had to do something quick, so I borrowed a page from my friend at work.
“Oh, I would just love to get right on that,” I said, putting as much disappointment in my voice as I could manage. “The problem is, the Iowa DNR has just put out a notice that Spirit Lake is overpopulated with walleyes. It’s a dire emergency. If they don’t get some of them out, the entire ecosystem could suffer. I was planning on spending the weekend helping to thin down the population.”
I gave her my best disappointed look. I swear I could see pecan pies disappearing in front of my eyes.
“You’re lying,” she said.
“I AM NOT!” I protested, lying loudly. “Do you want our grandkids to grow up never knowing what a walleye looks like because they went extinct?”
Usually the grandkid card got me something, but this time her face looked as if there was a possibility that our grandkids may never see a pecan pie again.
“I’ll give you two reasons why I don’t believe you,” she said. “First: I’ve never heard of there being too many walleyes in a lake; and second, I’ve seen you fish, and your chances of actually catching a walleye and thinning down the population are about the same as if they needed the mermaid population thinned down.”
So I didn’t get to go fishing. On the bright side, by Monday you could see yourself in bottom of our rain gutters.