My buddy Stan has a habit of dropping things off at my house when I am not around.
Last spring, he returned a rotor-tiller that was not mine and I never did find out who it belonged to.
I once returned home to find a bulldozer napping in my yard.
And earlier this month, Stan dropped himself off.
“Daphne kicked me out of the house,” he whined.
“Well, you can’t stay here.”
“Because you are unstable, completely unreliable and utterly untrainable.”
“You really think so?”
“It makes no difference what I think,” I said, “it is what my wife said the last time Daphne kicked you out.”
“I’ll prove her wrong,” he said.
And he did.
I have never seen Stan so considerate, so reliable and so well-mannered. He helped with the cooking. He did the dishes. He made himself useful around the house.
He started by doing all the little chores my wife has been nagging me to do for months. He hung pictures. He cleaned the garage. He fixed a big crack in the sidewalk. He got all of our major and minor appliances humming in perfect harmony.
It was like night and day.
Things got quiet around the house. With all the little things taken care of, there was nothing for my wife to nag me about and the instant she thought of something new, Stan was there willing and able.
It was not natural.
Things got so extreme that Stan started watching The Bachelor with her on Monday nights while I watched Kung Fu movies in the basement.
In desperation, I called Daphne.
“You got to take him back,” I told her.
“Fat chance,” she said.
“Don’t you miss him?”
“It is peaceful here now,” she said.
“But that is just it,” I told her, “it’s peaceful here too and that scares the hell out of me. Our house is becoming like the Hallmark Channel and I fear the worst.”
“That is scary,” she agreed.
“Couples need to crab at each other,” I told her, “they need conflict to balance out their happy times.”
“Uh-huh…” she said, not believing a word.
“Think of it this way,” I said, “happiness is like water, it seeks a certain level. When life becomes too peaceful, take care because there is a tsunami building out there. People are simply incapable of living in peace, it just don’t work like that. It would be like all Ying with no Yang and sooner or later something has got to blow. I know you and Stan, you both need someone to hiss and snarl at.”
“Interesting theory, “she said, “it might explain the calls I keep getting from your wife.”
“She calls twice a day begging me to take him back.”
“I am begging too,” I said.
“All right,” she relented, “just drop him off…”
I thanked her.
“But when you do,” she said, “make sure I am not around.”