April 12th, 2012The Centaur
Sorry to disappoint, she’s not a “cougar” in the traditional sense.
Picture her as a literal cougar, sitting atop a precipice stalking her prey. Crouched, her legs are like springs, waiting for an opportunity to pounce. Her eyes dart from side to side, her tail twitches in anticipation. And then… when her prey stumbles momentarily, her eyes widen, claws retract, and she leaps in for the kill…
Her prey? Any funny story I’m attempting to tell at a cocktail party or social gathering.
And just like a real cougar would, my wife will meticulously stalk a funny story from a hidden vantage point. She will wait for me to stumble in my recantation of the events, and then suddenly… she pounces! My funny story is unsuspecting, and puts up limited resistance to the surprise attack. Inevitably, my wife will snap the story’s neck, and haul the carcass up a tree to gorge on its entrails. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
You see, there are stories I enjoy telling in a group setting that my wife has heard a million times before. And whenever I find myself dispensing mirth in front of a new audience, my wife cannot resist gleefully cross-examining my testimony. She hangs on every word, just hoping, salivating, for a mistake that she can joyfully correct in front of a large audience.
Conversely, when my wife begins to tell a story I have heard before, I simply tune out. Although, to be perfectly honest, I generally tune out most of her first-run, original stories as well.
Not my wife though. Once a crowd has shifted their collective attention to me, she dutifully strives to prevent any embellishments in my storytelling. Unsatisfied with her role as the ombudsman of my narrative, she unfailingly decides that my solo act should really morph into a duet. A husband and wife storytelling duet! The irony, is that for many of my stories, my wife wasn’t there to witness the events firsthand to begin with anyway. Yet somehow, she knows the events of that particular night better than I do. And once she forcibly anoints herself the “co-storyteller” of one of my stories, it is only a matter of time before we are arguing with each other in front of our audience.
I look around, surveying the awkward discomfort of our friends. Nobody wants to make eye contact. I realize the story has been mortally wounded. If anything, I wish I had a blunt instrument nearby to put it out of its misery.
Thankfully, as is often the case, I am my own blunt instrument. As there is no way to win a fight with a hungry cougar, the best course of action is to withdraw. Remember to back away slowly and puff out your jacket or other loose clothing to appear bigger in stature. At a minimum, pop your collar and turn your pockets inside out. Never turn your back to the animal! Banging sticks or dinner plates together can also help provide a distraction for your escape. If possible, tossing a plate of hors d’oeuvres (especially baked brie) on the floor may cause the cougar to divert the attack elsewhere. Following these steps will insure you can live to tell another story someday… And sadly, this is how every cocktail party concludes for Mr. and Mrs. Centaur.
Uh oh. Did you hear that? My wife’s ears just perked up at the sound of me typing this post. Her nostrils flare, as she gathers in the scent of her prey. Be forewarned, I guarantee she will soon begin refuting irrelevant details of this post in the comment section below…