NEWS ITEM: SINCE OUR VIEW OF MARRIAGES MAY BE ALTERED THERE HAS BEEN TALK OF DRAFTING A BILL TO CHANGE OUR VOWS FROM “TILL DEATH DO US PART” TO A THREE-YEAR CONTRACT, WITH AN OPTION TO RENEW.
ETHEL: Harold, I’d like to talk to you.
HAROLD: Ethel, I’m watching the rerun of the highlights of Monday night’s game. Can’t it wait?
ETHEL: No, dear. We have to talk right now.
HAROLD: OK. What do you want?
ETHEL: Well, as you may know, we are due for a renewal.
HAROLD: What renewal? Do you mean our renewal for Colliers magazine? I told you I want to cancel our subscription because they’re slow on delivery.
ETHEL: No! I’m talking about our marriage contract. It’s up in three days.
ETHEL: So I want your answer now. Do you intend to renew with me?
HAROLD [brusquely]: Do you expect me to make a major decision like that in a few seconds? Let’s talk about it tonight.
ETHEL: I can’t wait, Harold.
HAROLD: Why not, for heaven’s sake?
ETHEL: Because I’m ordering stationery with my initials on it, and I have to know if I’m keeping the same ones.
HAROLD [getting angrier]: Ethel! Will you leave me alone and lemme watch this little league game?
ETHEL: Well, we could negotiate that, Dearie.
HAROLD: What do you mean, ne-go-ti-ate?
ETHEL [smoothly]: Look. It’s very simple. If you renew with me, for an example, I won’t bug you when you sit around all day doing absolutely nothing around the house besides watching TV.
HAROLD: Hey, that sounds terrific. It’s a deal.
ETHEL [archly]: Just one minute, Sweetheart. In return, we don’t see your mother so frequently, OK?
HAROLD: My mother? I thought she was your cleaning lady. I mean, I’ve never seen the house look so clean. Just kidding. OK, that sounds reasonable. How about promising you’ll never starch my button-down collars?
ETHEL: If you never leave the gas tank empty, Harold.
HAROLD: Gee! This is getting exciting. Will you vow never to make that lousy liver casserole again?
ETHEL: Sure, if you pledge to take me to first-run movies and not gripe about the crowds or the cost, for that matter.
HAROLD: And you will learn to modulate your sweet little voice.
ETHEL: You won’t whistle in the morning before I’ve had my coffee.
HAROLD: You’ll keep your icy feet off my backside at night.
ETHEL: That’s going a little too far, Harold.
HAROLD: Well, at least approach me slowly, OK?
HAROLD: And Ethel, no more yawning when I tell a joke you may have heard once before.
ETHEL: You mean 200 times before. Which reminds me. Promise to learn a new one.
HAROLD: If you won’t interrupt when I tell it.
ETHEL: OK. And remember to let me drive home if you’ve had too much to drink.
HAROLD: Are you implying that I drink too much?
ETHEL: No, I just said if.
HAROLD: Hmm. Fair enough. Well, I guess that takes care of everything. Here, I’ll sign the paper after you. Let’s shake hands.
ETHEL [with airy sweetness]: You are wonderful, darling.
HAROLD: I know. I know. Now, please let me watch the rest of the game in peace.
ETHEL: Certainly, darling.
[A little later]
HAROLD: What is it now, Ethel?
ETHEL [defensively]: How come you never talk to me? It’s always football, baseball, soccer, basketball then football re-runs again.
HAROLD [aghast]: I can’t believe it. I just cannot believe it. We just signed a contract, didn’t we?
HAROLD: I made all those concessions so you would let me watch all my games without interruptions, right?
HAROLD: So why are you bugging me now?
ETHEL: Because, my Darling, all those agreements were for our new contract. We still have three days to go on the old one, and it seems such a pity to waste it. Gee, they had a special on liver today. I think I’ll make a casserole … Harold. Stop it. That’s enough. Oh, geez. You know how I hate to see you cry. I should have mentioned that when we were making a deal. Harold, are you aware that it is a federal crime to rip up and spit on a legal contract? Harold …