A Monk’s Life

It’s a lifelong commitment of humbling and diligent servitude. There’s a vow of silence involved. There’s also a vow of poverty. There’s even a vow of celibacy. I just wish I could say that I’m referring to joining a monastery. Nope, instead of separate vows of silence, poverty and celibacy, most men just opt for simplicity and kill three birds with one stone by taking wedding vows instead.

The Vow of Silence: As her first act of business, your wife will waste little time in hacking away at the Bill of Rights. There’s no fighting this one, as the recent landmark Supreme Court decision (MR v. The Wife) established that husbands don’t have any Constitutional rights whatsoever. (On a related topic, hiring Andrew Dice Clay as my legal council was a huge mistake.) Anyway, don’t plan on bearing arms or peacefully assembling once you get married. And forget about Habeas Corpus. But most of all, you can kiss your freedom of speech goodbye.

The Vow of Silence takes many shapes. First, you will notice your vocabulary steadily shrinking. Sure, you’ll pick up a few new words like “spoon rest” and “table runner” as a married man. However, this won’t make up for the dramatic loss of personal pronouns you’ll experience. For instance, here’s a partial list of pronouns you will be forced to retranslate as a married man:

The word “I” is now “we.”
And “me” is now “us.”
Also, “my” becomes “our.”
And finally, what was “mine” is now “ours.”

I soon learned that it’s no longer “my” TV. It’s our TV. And that candy bar isn’t “mine.” It’s ours. Of course, there are some exceptions to this retranslation. For example, things can still be “my” fault. And it can still be “my” turn to take out the garbage. Sound confusing? Don’t worry, your wife will correct your speech accordingly until you get it right.

Unfortunately, this process doesn’t work both ways, mainly because I don’t want to stake claim to anything that’s hers. Those Matchbox 20 CD’s? Hers. The curling iron? Hers. The wine coolers in the fridge? Again, hers. So essentially, for those keeping score, what’s mine is ours and what’s hers is hers.

Finally, the Vow of Silence takes one other form. It’s called “the talk,” and it occurs prior to any social gathering where you might be in a position to open your mouth. Your wife understands the danger in letting you speak freely, and she takes it upon herself to use the car ride over to craft a set of talking points and general etiquette for the ensuing evening. During this briefing, she covers all the jokes and stories you’re not allowed to tell, what subjects you can’t bring up, and which opinions you’re not allowed to share. Sadly, it would have been easier for everyone involved if your wife could have just married a ventriloquist’s dummy instead.

But how do you know when you’re not sticking to the script?
1. Your wife is glaring angrily at you as you tell a story about a recent family reunion involving a backbend competition.
2. You’re actually enjoying yourself at a gathering of your wife’s coworkers.
3. You notice your wife instructing the bar staff to not serve you any more alcohol.
4. You just exchanged high fives with someone you met that night.
5. Your wife has gathered her coat and is pulling you towards the exit at 8:30.

And for the most unmistakable sign you didn’t follow the script, read on…

The Vow of Poverty: My wife’s lavish spending habits are well documented on this site, as is my curmudgeonry. I won’t rehash all of that here, I’ll just share the latest chapter…

Call them what you will: Solicitors, carpetbaggers, door-to-door salesmen, gypsies, grifters… The point is: My wife gainfully employs several dozen of them. This is a far cry from my days as a bachelor. Whereas I used to open the door only wide enough for my shotgun barrel to poke out, my wife vacuums the house in anticipation of their visits. This is my wife’s biggest weakness. Apparently, she figures that if someone is willing to go to the trouble to come all the way out to our house to try and sell us something, the least we can do is buy out their entire inventory.

Unfortunately, it’s not just professional salesmen. I started noticing that every Little League kid and Girl Scout in the neighborhood is riding around on a new bike or hovercraft or whatever incentive was offered for pushing 10,000 units of their particular fundraiser. Sure enough, the saltines and baked beans that had previously stocked my bomb shelter have now been replaced by thin mints.

Believe me, I would love to string razor wire around the perimeter of my house and post a giant neon sign over my doorway that reads “NO Solicitors!” Unfortunately, my wife countered that a sign like that might make them feel unwelcome. And therein lies the genesis of the Vow of Poverty.

So, are you selling something mail-order without a return policy? Come on in. No warranty either? That’s ok. And do you look kind of greasy and suspicious as well? As long as a portion of this sale is for a charity she’s never heard of, my wife is interested. Very interested. Put her down for a gross. Is cash Ok?

The Vow of Celibacy: Ah yes… I’d tell you more, but this topic directly falls under the by-laws of the Vow of Silence. Basically, the rule here is, break the Vow of Silence, and your wife gives you the Vow of Celibacy as well.

15 thoughts on “A Monk’s Life”

  1. Cute Matt, real cute. You know you’re going to be asked to take the vow of celibacy very soon for this one.

  2. When you were living at home the first twenty years of your life, what were you observing? You wanted to marry a girl just like your mother? You got an exact clone.

  3. I feel your pain, my friend. I already know the vow of silence very well, and the vow of poverty is quickly taking root. The whole time when we were growing up and noticed our dads out mowing the lawn or working on something in the garage that would never get fixed or take forever to fix, they were actually in their safe haven from these vows (actually the vow of poverty kept them there and not out at the local tavern). Anyhow, I have the Epicurian view in my relationship, which I think is probably best. AVOID PAIN AT ALL COSTS. This seems to work well for me, and my fiance thinks that she is right all of the time, so it works out for both of us.

  4. boy i saw that comment coming jr. good one. that’s some pretty funny stuff mr. does she consider the xbox hers too? or your entire camouflage uniform? tombstone poster? just curious.

  5. JR has it very easy when it comes to issueing you “the Talk.” For those of you that me you can imagine the bible sized list of topics, jokes, and stories that Maleah has to put off limits for me with the talk. I have actually learned to control the vow of celibacy a little. I call this tactic the the sports attack. If I have been issued the vow of celibacy there is no fear of punishment for anything else so I proceed to watch, read, and talk about sports every waking momoent. Soon she will surrender just to end the curling marathon that I have been watching on fox sports northwest for three days straight.

  6. JR, I feel your pain. As you might have heard, I myself once made the mistake of inviting Matt to a social event without first giving Matt “the Talk.” The event in question was my firm’s annual formal event. We’re talking conservative (i.e. anal) consultants in tuxes. Naturally I thought conservative (i.e., a bit anal :) Matt would be a perfect date. Matt had a different idea. Unbeknownst to me, Matt took the invite as a personal challenge to come up with as many creative ways to mortify me in front of my co-workers as possible. Apparently making me cringe in front of senior partners earned extra bonus points.

    Fast forward to the night of the event. Matt begins the evening introducing himself as my awkward teenage brother (a role that many of my coworkers actually seemed to buy) and ended the night telling the senior partners in the firm that he was a male escort I’d found in the Manwhores R Us section of the yellow pages.

    That night, Matt averaged about one laugh to every four horrified gasps. For those of you that know Matt, it’s no shock that he considered these pretty good odds and therefore continued happily on his quest to get me fired from my job. Thanks to Matt, partners in the firm that had never heard of me before definitely knew who I was after that night. So for all of you that might have wondered why I decided to move to my company’s Chicago office – well, now you have a little more insight.

    MR and JR, I hope you come to Chicago to visit me soon. Just don’t count on meeting any of my new co-workers.

  7. Moira,

    Perhaps a confession is in order. First off, all of the above is true. And actually, what you describe is actually “Understated and Reserved Matt.” As soon as you would go to the bathroom or try to get the bar staff to cut me off, that’s when “Zany and Unpredictable Matt” would make an appearance…

    Aside from telling the senior partners in your firm that I was a male escort, here were some other professions I held that evening:

    Exotic Dancer (we met at a bachelorette party.)
    Your therapist.
    Your probation officer.
    The Pool Cleaner at your apartment complex.

    It didn’t end there, I also told people I was a junior in high school and that I was hoping to take you to the prom this spring. Or, I’d yawn and tell people that I was a married man just seeing you on the side.

    Or I’d come up with crazy places where we met: like family reunions or AA meetings. Or I’d tell a story about how your love letters brought me comfort while I was in jail… stuff like that.

    While I tried to say this with a chuckle, most of your coworkers took me seriously. And if they’re gonna be that naive, why even bother setting the record straight?

    Anyway, the fact that I was never invited to another corporate function and that you moved several time zones away did not go unnoticed…


  8. We all know what an exaggeration this is so let’s get real. Your vow of celibacy… I seem to recall you had a similar policy in place before marriage. :) You should consider yourself lucky because you know a jury would annul the whole union the second JR entered a plea of temporary insanity!

    I’ve got Mother Theresa’s corpse on the phone and she wants to know how a hot tub, a 70″ tv, the caviar toothpaste, your diamond-encrusted money belt collection, and all your other ten-thousand luxuries amount to a vow of poverty. Think of it a different way when she is buying things from shady dudes who show up on the door. Think of it as helping a guy like me out. It’s not that far off right? Will the real slim shady please stand up?

    And the vow of silence could also be referred to as time to know when the show is over. The curtain has to come down sometimes or there can never be a second act. I’m reminded of my favorite quote from MacBeth:

    To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
    To the last syllable of recorded time,
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

  9. And with that, Bailes threw on his leather jacket, took a big drag on a hand-rolled cigarette and rode off on his Harley looking for trouble.

  10. Bailes would fit in well with the characters from th Outsiders. Matt the story drom Moira is one I have never heard before. I would of said that my respect for you could never have risen but I was wrong. Way to raise the bar for me once again. I raise a toast to jackassery

  11. i have a question.. allthough monks cant get marreied they can be in love right?
    is there anything worng with a monk being in love? jsut wondering!

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