For a number of years now I have called upon the services of a copy editor to review my column before sending it to the paper. Ordinarily, my copy editor’s role is limited to a much appreciated review for punctuation and grammatical errors, but from time to time she does provide input regarding content, particularly when a column includes one or more references about her.
Yes, my copy editor also happens to be my wife, Yvonne. As longtime readers can attest, she is a good sport, often allowing columns to go to press that copy editor wives of a less humorous persuasion would never permit. However, every now and then I write a column which, for reasons that are always a surprise and mystery to me, Yvonne disapproves and threatens repercussion if I use the column.
Until now the only repercussion I’ve experienced has been banishment to our travel trailer for a week or two. This has proven to be a win-win for me because a) I love camping – even in the backyard, and b) I’ve been able to publish the columns in question.
I say “until now” because the original column I wrote for this week apparently crossed Yvonne’s tolerance line for telling stories about her. The column was titled, “The Great Colonoscopy Caper.” It was (in my opinion) a delightfully humorous account of her preparation for and the conducting of a procedure that involves exploring one of the more sensitive anatomical pathways of the human body.
I thought it was one of the funniest, snort-laughing, belly-busting columns I’ve written in a long time. Strangely, Yvonne did not agree. About three paragraphs into the story she raised her head and gave me a half frown, half glare. She didn’t speak but her eyes said, “Are you crazy?” I didn’t say a word and she kept on reading. Remarkably, she read the rest of the column without so much as a hint of laughter, not even a muffled giggle.
When she finished reading she sat the laptop down and flatly stated, “You are not going to send this to the paper.”
Still thinking she would give in and at most banish me to the travel trailer for a few weeks, I said, “Don’t you think it’s funny; are you sure I can’t use it?”
“No it’s not funny and it’s too descriptive,” she said. “The only part that is even a little bit funny is where you say, while I was still waking up, that you told me I had a baby, and that I said we should name him Prince George.”
“But you really did say that,” I lamented; and then in one last futile attempt to win her over, I said, “I think the readers will understand it is all in good humor.”
“Let me put it this way,” Yvonne said with a serious and deliberate tone to her voice, “If you print this, I will show you what a colonoscopy feels like using a garden hose, and I mean all of it with no happy gas to dull your pain.”
I still had half a notion to send the story it to the paper, but after thinking it through I decided it made no sense to throw away a perfectly good marriage that has lasted nearly 47 years; and besides, I really do believe she would have used the garden hose. “The Great Colonoscopy Caper” will just have to remain the funniest column you will never read.”
George Brown is a freelance writer. He lives in Jackson Township.