Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter will recall that I occasionally post here about Jenny, the elder (and I mean very elder – she’s well into her 18th year) of the two cats who deign to grace Port Swiller Manor with their presence, demanding royal treatment from us house servants.

Well recently ol’ Jenny has started to impress her immense age and failing faculties on us via a distinct uptick in the number of times in which she refuses to avail herself of the litter boxes at her disposal and instead sneaks off to take care of her biznay in remote corners and behind various chairs.

In addition to the distasteful matter of having to clean things up, the smell of apres chat is beginning to become somewhat too pervasive, even for tried old pet-owner campaigners as Mrs. R and self.  As a result, Mrs. R set out to discover a means by which we might persuade Jenny to cease her out-of-bounds latrinal forays.  (A very, very small voice somewhere inside my head suggested pitching the argument that maybe this is the time to start thinking about sending Jenny to “the Farm”, but I have so far not listened to it, nor relayed its whisperings to the Missus.)

Anyhoo, in answer to her requests for suggestions, someone among her vast network of armchair pundits suggested that cats, for whatever reason, hate tinfoil.  Loathe it.  Avoid it at all costs.  Therefore, she ought to lay down squares of the stuff in all the places about the house Jenny has deemed fair to foul.

When Mrs. R relayed this tip to me, my first reaction was to suppose that, even assuming this feline tinfoil aversion to be real, what would stop Jenny, upon discovering the stuff in her usual haunts, from simply shifting operations elsewhere?  Plenty of target zones in this house.  An answering voice in my head said, “Well, Mrs. R would then feel it necessary to lay down more tinfoil in those spots.”  Mulling the thing further, I was suddenly rewarded with a vision of Jenny racing about Port Swiller Manor, a needful look on her face, pursued by Mrs. R frantically waiving a roll of Reynoldswrap, until the floors of the place  were one, vast, gleaming sheet of shiny silver.  At that point, I confess, I started to snigger.

“What?” said Mrs. R.

“Oh, nothing,” I replied.  “Tinfoil.  Sounds good.  Just one thing – be sure to save enough to line your hat! Oh, ha ha ha!”

A gentle lob like that over the net and you think I’m not going to smash it for all it’s worth?  Puh-lease.

“Yes, funny.  But what of chivalry, old boy?  This is your wife, after all,” you might be thinking.

Well, let me tell you a little story apropos the lob metaphor.

Waaaaay back in 1993, a month or two before we were to be married**, Mrs. R and I travelled to The Homestead for the first and only Virginia Bar Association annual meeting I ever attended.   Mrs. R had graduated from Sweet Briar the previous summer where she was, among other things, captain of the varsity tennis team.

I, personally, have never been a tennis player or had much interest in the game, although I took some lessons as a kid.  As a result, I know little technique and almost no strategy.  However, during our courtship, Mrs. R and I would venture out to the courts on a fairly regular basis to play a gentle set or two.  Mrs R, being an infinitely better player than self, would indulge me by confining herself to the tennis equivalent of gentle sparring while I flailed about the court and a good time usually was had by all.

Amongst the extracurricular activities on offer at this Bar meeting was a mixed doubles round-robin.   Taking advantage of my pre-nuptual infatuation, Mrs. R somehow persuaded me to sign up for the thing along with her, assuring me that it would be a lot of fun and that there was no shame to be derived from my uber-novice status.

Well.  I don’t recall anything of the first round or two I played.  All I remember is that at some point I found myself and my partner matched against Mrs. R and hers.  Suffice to say, it was readily observable that there were three real tennis players on that court, and then there was me.  “Oh, well,” I thought to myself naively, “Soon-To-Be Mrs. R knows my weaknesses and limitations and, although she’ll probably worst me, at least she will go fairly easy.”

Ha.

Ya got that?

Ha.  HA.

This woman, who had so recently pledged her troth, who in a few short weeks would promise in the sight of God to love, honor and obey, proceeded on that court to flay me alive.  Knew my weaknesses and limitations?  Oh, yes she did.  And used ’em without mercy.  In particular, I recall that she played cruelly on my inability to deal with shots aimed at my feet.  It was brutal.

Curiously, I believe it wasn’t until we were all shaking hands after I had led my partner to ignominious defeat that Mrs. R even realized who it was she was playing against.  I recall that she gave a curious little double-take, as if to say, “Hullo, what are you doing here?”

Since that day, I have point-blank refused ever to put myself across a net from Mrs. R.  (I believe this is a not-uncommon phenomenon among golfing couples, too.)   Instead, I get in my overhead smashes, such as the one above, on ground of my own choosing.

So there you are.

**Yes, our 20th anniversary is coming up in about three week or so.  More on that when we get there.

 

 

Advertisements