I recently rose to the defense of Warren St. John, author of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer. Now, I'm not so sure I should have.
This explanation requires a little background, so bear with me here.
I was a fan of "Mad About You" while it was on the air and I watched it on a weekly basis while I was in college. By the end of my first year of law school, I was dating the woman who is now my wife and we used to watch the show together.
Gratuitous Helen Hunt photo.
There was an episode in which Helen Hunt's character discovered that her husband's new boss was a good-looking woman. She became irate with Paul Reiser's character because it struck her as suspicious that he hadn't come home after his first day of work and said, "Oh, by the way, my boss is a strikingly attractive woman."
He countered that, if he had said such a thing, she would have asked, "Why are you telling me this?" A fight then would have ensued, which he had avoided by simply not telling her, which now led to an even bigger fight.
My wife, Susan, and I watched this episode together when it aired for the first time. Afterwards, I made the mistake of saying, "You do know she's crazy, right?"
Susan, in fact, knew no such thing.
She took Helen Hunt's side. I took Paul Reiser's side. We proceeded to have the same argument we had just seen them have on television . . . and I didn't even work for a good-looking lady boss.
This wasn't covered in your book, Paul.
Fastforward about six months. "Mad About You" is now in summer reruns. Susan and I are watching when the repeat of the aforementioned episode airs.
At this point, I should remind you that I am a man and, being a man, I learn nothing.
"Hey," I said, "do you remember when we saw this episode before?" I then proceeded to describe the argument we had had before, once again taking the position that Helen Hunt's character---and, by extension, Susan---had been silly about the whole thing.
We proceeded to have exactly the same argument all over again . . . and I still didn't work with a good-looking woman.
I'm pretty sure this situation was covered in John Gray's book, but I'd have to read it to find out for sure and I have way too much self-respect for that.
Fastforward probably a year or so. Susan and I are married and living in an apartment in Conyers. "Mad About You" is now in syndication. We're watching it one night and, lo and behold, it's the episode about Paul Reiser's and Helen Hunt's argument about whether he should have told her that he worked with a good-looking woman.
Let me remind you again: I am a man; ergo, I learn nothing.
"Hey," I said, "do you remember when we saw this episode the first time?" I then proceeded to describe the first argument and the second argument, once again taking the position that the disagreement had been attributable to Helen Hunt's and her silliness about the whole thing.
We then rehashed the same argument for the third time. To this day, I do not work under the supervision of a good-looking woman.
Thankfully, "Mad About You" isn't on in syndication anymore, as far as I am aware, which may account for why I am happily married.
Earlier today, Warren St. John put me in much the same position as Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt had before.
Not intended for use as a relationship guidebook.
I have been meaning to read Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer and the events of earlier this week inspired me to go to Amazon.com and order it. (I got the hardback edition, by the way.)
The book arrived in the mail yesterday and I began thumbing through it. All right, I'm telling myself I'm just thumbing through it, because I have another book with a bookmark in it in which I have lost interest, but which I technically am still reading, so I couldn't very well take up another book right now, but, truthfully, I started reading Warren's book.
In the introduction to Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is the story of a couple who took their R.V. to every Alabama football game, home and away, for more than 15 years. During that period, they missed their daughter's wedding because she got married on the third Saturday in October, which is the traditional date on which Alabama and Tennessee meet on the gridiron.
Most people, the author noted, thought the couple were mentally unbalanced to choose attending a football game over attending their daughter's wedding. Nevertheless, Warren went on to note:
While I am not as extreme as this particular couple, I am cut from the same cloth.
In 1996, I left a wedding reception and drove directly to Athens, changing clothes in the car along the way, in order to be in Sanford Stadium for my tenth consecutive home opener between the hedges. (That streak now stands at 19 and counting, by the way.)
In 1999, I was in a wedding that took place not only on the day of, but during, the Georgia-L.S.U. game. When not fulfilling my duties as a member of the wedding party (including performing a Scripture reading during the ceremony), I was in the back listening to the game on the radio. When the Bulldogs won, I reported the news to the D.J., who announced the final score at the reception.
In 2001, my wife's younger sister got married on the day of the Georgia-Georgia Tech game. (In her defense, the date was chosen, in part, because it coincided with the week of Thanksgiving, which made it more convenient for the large number of out-of-state guests whose schedules needed to be accommodated.) I arranged for a waiter at the reception to bring me periodic score updates.
In short, I have gone on record with the declaration that people should get married between New Year's Day and Labor Day in order to avoid such scheduling conflicts. There are 52 weeks in a year. Georgia plays football games on approximately a dozen Saturdays every autumn. That gives you 40 weekends within which to get married. Work with me here, people.
My niece, who will be 14 years old next month, has been warned repeatedly by her uncle that, if she wants me to attend her wedding, she needs to look at a football schedule beforehand.
Admittedly, that is an idle threat on my part; if Katie gets married on a day that conflicts with a Georgia game, I will, of course, attend the wedding . . . but I'm hoping to avoid that conflict altogether.
Fortunately, Katie's father and I co-hosted a local television program called "The Dawg Show" for six years and the two of us have been the opening act at a number of South Metro Bulldog Club meetings, so I have every confidence that he will tell her, "If you want me to pay for it, make sure it's during a bye week."
This brings me to why I want to punch Warren St. John in the mouth.
Warren, guess which Drive By Truckers album I'd like to lend you? (Here's a hint: it's the one between "Pizza Deliverance" and "Gangstabilly.")
Earlier today, I was telling Susan about the couple in Warren's book. I was getting to the point about how one out of every four people informally surveyed by the author found the daughter's conduct unconscionable, but, before I could tell her about what I considered the correct reaction, Susan made it clear just how appalled she was by those parents' conduct. By extension, I was in trouble for understanding their behavior, even though I have never duplicated it.
Bear in mind that Susan's and my only child is a son. We don't even have a daughter whose wedding I might miss, not that I'd miss it if we had one, but all that seemed insignificant. (Bear in mind, also, that I got in trouble with my wife---thrice---for not telling her that my boss was a good-looking woman in spite of the fact that I have never had a boss who was a good-looking woman.)
So, Warren, thanks a lot, pal. I've gotten about 15 pages into your book and, already, I'm in trouble with my wife for watching too much football. That's not a criticism I'm used to getting during the week of the vernal equinox. Usually, the worst football-related jabs I take in my household during March are on the order of, "You aren't seriously watching Arena League football, are you?"
Maybe Warren isn't completely to blame, though.
Here's how dumb I am: I made things worse by saying, "This is just like that 'Mad About You' thing."
Anyway, buy Warren's book and read it. Just don't talk to your wife about it.