Trust and verification
Every New Year's Eve, at the stroke of midnight, I ask my wife, Deborah, if she wants to stay married for another year.
I do it because I believe people should always have a back door, a way out, a clear shot at freedom. She's a nice woman, my wife, and if she's spent the last few months agonizing over pitching me out, I figure I'll give her a guilt-free shot at it on New Year's Eve.
I asked her, and she said she wanted to stay married, which was a great relief since it was only a few degrees above zero that night, and I'd worked a newspaper shift until 8 p.m.
I came home with a 20-ounce bottle of dark beer in a paper bag and two airplane bottles of Irish whiskey in my coat pocket. She'd made bacon-wrapped scallops and shrimp with cocktail sauce.
Deborah should have thrown me out just because I came home with beer and whiskey for myself, but she made a small feast for the two of us. She'd bought liquor, too, two small bottles of prosecco, that light sparkling wine that tastes too much like soda water to be wine, and too much like wine to be soda water. I was lucky because each bottle held only enough prosecco for one glass.
I had my glass, and my shrimp and my scallops.
Deborah fed a little bit of bacon-wrapped scallop to Maggie, the larger of our two cats, a calico with fancy notions. I did not offer any scallops to Jack, our, other, smaller cat, who is gray and wears his fur in a crew cut and, like me, does not take to strange food.
And I asked her if she wanted to stay married for another year, as I promised her I would nine years ago, at a loud New Year's Eve party in a bar.
"Yes," she said.