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Trust and verification

Marc Munroe Dion on

I start the column and I date it "2018," here in the small spare bedroom of a second-floor apartment in a 125-year-old house.

There's a snowstorm trembling in the air tonight. It hasn't started yet, and isn't supposed to start until about 4 a.m. It's 8 p.m. now, but you can taste the snow in the air. You smell rain coming, but you taste snow, like an ice-cold knife blade on your tongue.

For the weary columnist, the first column of the year is a terrible temptation. It would be so easy to write a list of humorous New Year's resolutions for politicians, or to cast back over the disasters of the last year.

"You didn't smell Trump's victory coming," I could write. "You tasted it coming, like the cold body of a dead orange hamster on your tongue."

Poetry?

No.

Or, "The Democrats should resolve to become a political party."

Funny?

No.

A story, then.

Yes.

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.

Some people think the creed of old reporters like me is "Trust, but verify."

In fact, my creed has always been "The hell with trust. Verify."

So, I wanted to be certain that she meant that "yes."

"You sure you mean it?" I asked. "Say the word, I'm gone. No fuss. I could be outta here in three weeks."

"Three weeks?" she said. "That's a long time. If you want somebody to go, you want them out right away."

Still, she didn't take back the "yes," and I opened the whiskey and waited to hear "Auld Lang Syne," happy I hadn't dropped the ball.

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To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "The Land of Trumpin," is a collection of Dion's columns from before, during and after the most recent presidential election. It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and as an eBook for Kindle, Nook, iBooks and GooglePlay.

 

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