Wendell woke an hour before the alarm was to sound.
“Already?” asked Judy, rolling on her side to face him.
“Can’t sleep.” He jumped out of bed and groped his way to the door.
An hour later he was showered, in a suit and seated at the kitchen table, holding a cup.
He recalled last night practicing eye contact with Judy who in a serious face said, “Wendell, you’ve got kale on your teeth.” She burst into laughter when he ran to the bathroom.
Judy, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with ” I AM NOT A CLOWN, entered the kitchen.
“Don’t spill coffee on yourself–you have a job interview in an hour,” she said.
Wendell raised the cup over his head and titled it. Confetti cascaded from the mug.
They both laughed hard. Without question jokes were key to sustaining 50 years of marriage.
A few hours later Judy met him at the front door.
“How did it go?”
“Was I supposed to be somewhere?”
“The interview, you monkey.” She shrieked , “Your tie!”
“What about it?”
“You spilled coffee—you didn’t get the job!”
“I did. And I got you again,” he said, pulling the clean tie out of his vest pocket.
“Wendell, you are the best gag man in the business.”
“What about a real cup o’ java? That confetti brew sticks to my throat!”
Wendell paced while Judy brewed coffee. He wondered if she was thinking of the next gag–they worked so well together.
Judy slowly poured hot water into the cone. She loved the stunts that had made her husband famous. Now that he was retired and no longer in need of joke material, she enjoyed playing the straight person—the job interview had been her idea. She thought to herself: Who knows how famous he’d had been if I’d been doing this his whole career? But, then, we had three kids and they’ve been the most fun of all.
In the evening in another one of their new routines, they would sit on the front porch bench in silence for a few minutes. Judy would start by saying something profound and Wendell would counter with a punch line.
This time Judy said with moist eyes, “Getting old isn’t for the young.”
Wendell turned to his wife and opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He was caught between passion and comedy. Jokes came quickly to the rescue, but he shooed them away and, instead, kissed her. They rose and went into the house.