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By Staff | Feb 11, 2011

As soon as the glossy magazine arrived I snuck it off and squirreled it away in a safe place. My instincts told me that it would be best if my wife didn’t know about this particularly prurient publication.

But alas! Despite my best efforts and innumerable precautions, I was soon caught red-handed.

It was a quiet evening. I was reading and my wife was watching TV when she suddenly turned to me and asked, “What are you trying to hide inside that autobiography of Mark Twain?”

Startled, I hastily closed the hefty tome and replied, “I um nothing!”

“Liar! You got one of those magazines again, didn’t you? Let me see it!”

There seemed to be no choice other than to meekly comply.

“I was just catching up on some new and interesting developments,” I offered as I handed over the dog-eared pamphlet. “A person can learn a lot by reading a publication of this caliber.”

“Ha! I know you! The only thing you were reading was the pictures!”

My guilt was undeniable so I decided to take a new tack, namely, throw myself on the mercy of the court.

“Can you blame me?” I asked. “I’m only human! Just look at the size of those melons! Have you ever seen anything so voluptuous and so luscious?”

“You realize, don’t you, that they probably aren’t real. And even if they are, they’ve been expertly lighted and Photoshopped and airbrushed. All of the supposed perfection in this rag is mostly illusion.”

“Yeah, I know. But, still. Can’t we have some like that? Please? I’ll take real good care of them! I promise!”

She studied me for a moment, then glanced once again at the magazine.At last she sighed and said, “Well, OK. If you’re sure that’s what you want.”

You know it’s been a long, cold winter when this level of marital tension can arise from something as trifling as a seed catalogue.

And it has indeed been a long, cold winter. With the finish line still nowhere in sight, we have to do what we must to endure. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

For instance, my wife and I have taken to watching the Golf Channel. Neither of us golf, nor do we like it, nor do we particularly enjoy watching it. We just want to catch a glimpse of an alternative universe where it’s warm outside.

“What’s all that green stuff covering the ground?” my wife asked recently.

“I believe that substance is known as ‘grass,'” I replied.

“Oh. And what’s up with those big sticks? There seems to be something weird growing on them.”

“They call those sticks trees and the stuff sprouting from them are known as leaves. I seem to recall learning in science class that the leaves have something to do with how the trees make their living.”

Both of us were shocked and alarmed at the sight of folks running around outside without parkas. And we were sorely tempted to call Child Protective Services when we happened to espy kids wearing T-shirts in the gallery of golf aficionados.

When the situation gets bad – and it has often been bad this winter – I’ll trot out a family photo album. There is no need to presort the pictures since we have never taken an outdoor photo during the winter.

“Who are those people?” my wife wondered. “They look vaguely familiar.”

“I’m pretty sure that that’s us. Remember? We went to that picnic in the park last summer.”

“No way! Really? Why do we seem so different? There’s something odd about our appearance.”

“I think it’s because we are wearing neither long johns nor our usual three sweaters.”

“What? How can it be that we’re not wearing long johns? And who took away our sweaters?”

“We didn’t need them because it was warm outside,” I explained patiently. “There’s this season called spring and it’s a whole lot balmier than what we’ve been enduring for the past six months. It’s followed by an even warmer period they call summer.

All that white stuff you see out the window will have melted away by summer. Grass will take its place and our trees will sprout leaves and look a lot like those that we saw on the Golf Channel.”

“Now you’re just being mean!” she accused in a choked voice. “Don’t tease me like this!”

Things had gone from bad to worse, so I sat close beside her on the couch. Or at least as close as our multiple layers of clothing would allow.

“Here’s something that always cheers me up,” I said. “Take a gander at this new magazine! Have you ever seen such a bodacious set of eggplants?”

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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