I make no pretense to the contrary: I love a clever pun. The groans from the audience are music to my ears. But what’s better than the common, “artificial” puns are the ones hurled at you by actual experience.
We have four cats: Chloe, Zoe, Fluffy, and Uriel. Zoe, a tortoiseshell female, is a thief. Her specialty, until recently, was towels. She loves to snatch washcloths and hand towels, whenver she can reach them, and hide them from us. It’s about as harmless a pastime as a cat can adopt, so we tolerate it with as much grace as we can muster. (After all, we wouldn’t want her to “graduate” to something bigger that might get the attention of the authorities.)
But every now and then, Zoe “branches out:” i.e., she’ll steal some article other than a small sheet of terrycloth. Those thefts can cause a lot of consternation. Yesterday was such a case.
I was shuffling through the contents of my refrigerator, casting about for something to eat for lunch. My hand fell upon a lump of multiply torn and crumpled aluminum foil. When I unwrapped the thing, it revealed a pita left over from dinner two evenings before. It didn’t really constitute a proper lunch all by itself, so I set it by the microwave oven while I went to the pantry for a can of soup.
When I returned to the kitchen no more than three minutes afterward, the pita was gone.
I searched the whole damned house for that lump of starch. I spent more than an hour at it. It was nowhere to be found. Eventually I surrendered and ate my soup pita-lessly.
I told Beth about it when she came home from work. She repeated my search – wives do that, you know; none of them will ever trust a man to do such a thing properly – but with the same negative result. We concluded that at some time in the misty future, we’d stumble upon the remnant of that pita and marvel at how cleverly Zoe had hidden it.
Last night was a difficult one for me. I have numerous problems with my shoulders, the pain from which often impedes my ability to sleep. Last night they gave me a particularly hard time. When I rose, Beth took one look at me and immediately said “It was the pita, wasn’t it?”
“Huh?” I replied in my wittiest Algonquin Club idiom.
“It was the pita that kept you awake all night,” she said. Her deadpan would have elicited the envy of any Borscht Belt comedian. “You couldn’t sleep for thinking about where Zoe might have hidden it.”
And in a blinding flash of the obvious®, what my beloved wife was edging toward became clear to me, so I lunged and snatched it out of her hands.
“Oh, I see,” I said. “The Prince and the Pita, eh?”
She smiled her wickedest smile.
Some marriages are made in heaven. About this one, I’m not so sure.