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You Can't Tell Me I'm Wrong on This One

Posted by Robert Edwards on

(Originally Published 10/27/2014)
     Many years ago when I was in my early 20's I lived in Japan with a couple of guys who were first cousins.  They were pretty good friends, but competed to be better than each other over just about everything.  One day they went out and purchased new wrist watches.  Electronics in Japan were inexpensive back then because of the exchange rate, and they both purchased very nice time pieces.  That's when all the fun began.  For days we kept asking them what time it was because they would both give a different answer and then attack each other maintaining that their watch had the correct time.  This went on for days until one morning we heard a scuffle followed by the cry "You can't tell me I'm wrong on this one, my watch is set to International Time".  I'm not sure what International Time had to do with it, but a fist fight broke out and we had to pull them apart before they killed each other.

     I remember thinking how silly they were to argue over what time it was.  I made a mental note at the time that I would never be so petty when faced with such a situation.  As I've gotten older I've come to understand that their argument had nothing to do with what time it was, and that avoiding those type of situations is easier said than done -- for me anyway.

     The first argument I lost after getting married happened quickly.  We were watching the movie The Sound of Music and about half way through the movie I turned to my new bride and commented on what a great actor Michael Caine was.  She burst out laughing and replied "You mean Christopher Plummer?"  I didn't know who Christopher Plummer was at the time, but I was 100% sure that Michael Caine was the actor that played the father of the von Trapp family in the movie.  Because this was the early 80's we didn't have a laptop or an iphone to quickly verify that information.

     As I was writing this article tonight I asked Siri the question:  "Was the actor Michael Caine in the movie The Sound of Music".  She replied "Sorry, I don't see any movies matching 'Sound of Music' starring Michael Caine."

     I then asked Siri who played Captain von Trapp in the Sound of Music.  She quickly popped up a list of websites with that information.

     In 1982 that type of information was difficult to easily obtain, and so the argument went on much too long.  It wasn't until weeks later when we saw one of them on another show that I had to admit that I was wrong.   Being wrong wasn't my biggest mistake.  Proving to my wife what an idiot I am was the larger crime.  Over the years being wrong has become a talent that I'm actually very good at.

     My in-laws live 800 miles away so we've spent many years driving long miles to attend family functions.  To pass the time we often used to play the Alphabet Game.  In the game you start with A and go to Z by finding the letters of the alphabet in road signs, billboards, license plates, on the side of trucks or anywhere you can find them outside the car.   For example, when you were looking for the letter P and you saw a sign that said "Pass Open" you would shout "P - Pass Open" and the other person couldn't use that letter.
     My wife used to slaughter me in the game until I became so upset one trip that I accused her of cheating.  There was no way she could read the letters when I couldn't even see the signs.   She would call out a letter and about 10 seconds later (at 70mph) I would finally see the sign she was calling out. The only logical explanation for this was obviously that she was cheating.  I just couldn't figure out how she was doing it.   Lamely she tried to explain her way out of the situation by claiming that I needed glasses, which of course was absolutely untrue.  My eyesight was 20/20 and it always would be.
     This went on for months until she challenged me to go get an eye exam and bet me $100 that I needed glasses.  We were still in school and I was dreaming about all of the things I could buy with $100, so I called and scheduled an eye exam.
     I don't know what my wife did with that $100 back then, but I didn't want to know.  In fact I didn't want to talk about it or ever play the alphabet game again.  Especially with someone who was such a big cheater.

     When my children were small we went boating at Willard Bay one weekend.  Towards the end of the day it was too hot on the boat, and the shore was about 200 feet away and I bet my wife that I could swim to shore.  She responded quietly with something like "Sure you can.." and I bragged to everyone on board about what a strong swimmer I was.  I don't remember for sure, but I'm guessing she just rolled her eyes.  I took off my life jacket and jumped in and swam, and swam, and swam. and swam, and swam.  After about what seemed like an eternity I shouted to the boat and asked them how much progress I was making and they responded that I was drifting in the opposite direction.  I finally gave up, started floating on my back and they pulled the boat over and fished me out of the water.

     I tried to explain my failure with some excuse about an undertow,  That was my lame attempt at an explanation anyway.  I don't remember how my wife reacted exactly.  My best recollection is that she mentioned something about being raised on a farm and that she was well aware of the fact that sometimes nature could find a way to cull the weak ones from the herd.

     For years my wife has eaten a much healthier diet than I have.  I have rewarded her efforts by quoting the old Euell Gibbons commercial by holding up her meal and joking that "many parts are edible".    This culminated a few weeks ago when I had tests done and found out that I am allergic to cows milk.  It explained a lot.  My wife had been trying for years to get me to try the soy milk that she had been drinking.  Now I was in a tight spot.   If soy milk didn't taste good, I couldn't have my morning bowl of Corn Chex cereal, and if it tasted good then she was right --- once again.   It turns out that Soy milk is actually delicious.  Given the choice I prefer it over cows milk.  Every time I walk in the kitchen now all I hear is "stick and twigs, sticks and twigs..."

     The problem with being a big tease and trying to prove that you're right all the time is that sometimes it can come back and bite you in the hind quarters -- literally.  When my daughter was having a sleepover with friends one weekend I got the bright idea of sneaking down the stairs in the dark at midnight to scare them.  Instead I slipped on the stairs and broke my back.
     Later I realized that my efforts to scare my daughter may not have been very effective since she and her friends slept through the noise from two fire trucks, an ambulance, and 2 cop cars -- all with sirens and lights blaring, not to mention all the racket they made hauling me out of the house and putting me in the ambulance.  My daughter and her friends slept through it all.
     A few days later my mother-in-law called to check on me.  She asked me how my accident happened.  I couldn't tell her the real story.  That wasn't any fun.  So I made up a story and told her that my wife had pushed me down the stairs.   I waited for my mother-in-laws reaction.  I was expecting her to say something like "My daughter would never do anything like that".  After about 20 seconds of silence I was getting worried.  Before I could explain my lie and tell her the real story she replied very quietly "It's about time!", and we both had a good laugh.

     Back in the 70's there was an episode of the sitcom Happy Days where The Fonz made a mistake and had to admit that he was "Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.........".  He couldn't say the word "wrong" and kept getting stuck on the "R" sound.  Once I realized that staying married meant that I would have many opportunities to apologize to my wife, I quickly adopted the same phrase.  Now when I realize that I'm wrong, or when I don't realize it and need it skillfully pointed out to me, I turn to my wife, smile, and say "I'm sorry, I was Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....."  

My wife is a very forgiving person which explains why we are still married.

Bob Edwards is the Founder and CEO of Comm One LLC which develops and sells Call Accounting Software for tracking telephone calls for business.  You can contact Bob directly at 801-523-9797 or 

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