Here are some of my previously published stories. These short story humor articles appeared in various newspapers across the county.
“Shake Well Before Use”
By M. Brant Butler
Saturday morning, muffins in the oven, and my wife Alison decided that our front door needed to be painted a maroon-y red mix. Her argument was that people in the big cities are doing it and it adds “flair.” Well, if people in the big cities are doing it then we must do it.
I take the can of paint she gives me and start shaking. After a few shakes I decide that I look like a big goofball with my whole body shaking like a jackhammer around a can of paint so I move away from all windows and go sit down in the living room.
If you’re shaking a can of paint in your living room, where the carpet is off white and less than 6 months old, what do you NOT want to happen? That’s right, you don’t want to drop it, AND you don’t want the lid to pop off. But during a power shake to the right side of my body something terribly bad happened. As this huge can of dark maroon paint was falling toward the carpet everything went into super slow motion. I could see the label spinning towards the ground, I could hear the birds’ wings flapping outside and I even experienced a rather accurate premonition of my wife trying to kill me.
As soon as the can “gently” landed on the carpet about two pints of the dark maroony red mixture of paint gurgled out. I sat there for a second in complete shock. I grabbed some paper towels (as if 5 or 6 paper towels would make a difference) and went to start cleaning. The entire time my wife’s rage is growing like a volcano getting ready to destroy entire villages. She yells a few words that I can’t share with you unless we are on cable TV after dark -- and she then springs into action.
She began working with some real towels, meanwhile telling me to get some hot soapy water (what are we doing, delivering a baby?) and I know there is no way that this will come out. I am a dead man.
After patting, rewetting, patting, rewetting, patting, rubbing, vacuuming, rewetting, patting, vacuuming, and rubbing, she went to where all the cleaners are under the kitchen sink. She reached way back and pulled out some sort of stuff that women must keep secret from men for fear of its power. (You see, if we spill a cup full of tobacco juice they throw a fit and we clean it up. They know that we can get it up so they don’t pull out the big guns to clean it. If we see how easy it is for them to clean it we won’t care so much the next time we spill something, so they want us to think everything we spill is an emergency.)
I guess I will have to super glue the legs of the ottoman over the stain before she would let us have any guests over. But after the secret woman trick and using a razor blade to shave off the top layer of carpet, the stain is smaller – and fainter!
Wait a second, what’s that smell? Is something burning? Uh-oh. THE MUFFINS! As I go running to the kitchen and open the oven a plume of smoke engulfs me, which sets off the smoke alarm. Let’s see, I have a wife with a razor blade cleaning up one red stain (so far), smoke all in the house and a fire alarm going off which could serve to mask my screams as she kill me. I even have a feeling that after she told her story to the judge they would let her go. I rip the battery off the alarm (that is the only way to get one to shut up) and open all the windows to let the smoke billow out. She is now so mad at me she just hangs her head and cleans the carpet. She gets up and told me to add some more of her secret mix, then rub, then vacuum. I do EXACTLY as I was told and guess what, still a stain. Just a faint trace of the stain remains, so faint that you REALLY have to look for it.
After three hours, she is finished. I am not allowed to paint the door, which was the only good thing that came out of this experience.
So if you don’t want to help your wife paint all you have to do is ruin your carpet, simple enough. Just be prepared for your wife to get a tad upset and use some very colorful language. Just in case any of you don’t hear from me in a while, PLEASE call the police. Have them investigate any fresh mounds of dirt in my yard especially.
the family pic
When my wife Alison was laid off from her job recently, daytime television began to ruin our marriage.
One evening she stands in front of my video game and says, “Brant, I need to talk to you.”
I immediately see two problems: she is talking calmly; and she has addressed me by my name—neither good signs. She sits beside me and lowers her glasses.
She: “What are some of your expectations of your wife?” (I laugh, hesitantly.)
Then: “Alison has some real concerns and you need to address them today.” (Why is she referring to herself in 3rd person? Who am I talking to? If she’s going to role-play, why couldn’t she be Pamela Anderson instead of Dr. Phil? I go along to see where this is heading.)
She: “You have emotional constipation . . . your wife has taken a very critical look at the spirit and blah blah blah. . . and life chain. . . blah blah blah. . .” (She didn’t actually say blah blah blah -- that’s just what I heard from that point on.)
I look at her astonished.
She: “You have to name it before you can claim it.” (Awed silence from me.)
She (yelling): “Do what works!”
It’s not her fault – I blame Oprah and Dr. Phil. They are the ones brainwashing our wives. Perhaps sometimes what they say is true, but we men know this “do what works” business is flat dangerous.
Case in point: You and your wife are looking at a lingerie catalog and you say to her, “Hmm, see her uh, legs (you could insert any body part here). THAT WORKS, so maybe we should take a more critical look and set goals for you to look more like that! What do you think?”
I’ll tell you what the next words out of your mouth will be: “HONEY, PUT DOWN THAT BASEBALL BAT!”
Strategy - Always Strategy
CHRONICLES OF A MADMAN
I BLAME OPRAH AND DR. PHIL
When I got married I was under the impression that I was going to marry my wife and only my wife. I admit to not listening that close to the preacher, but I did not, at any time hear him say, “do you Brant, take this woman and Oprah, to have and to hold, to listen to the sound advice of Dr. Phil, till death do you part?” I’m not saying he didn’t say it, because I was in a bit of a hurry to get on with it, but you would think they would point that part out a little more closely. I didn’t even notice a clause like that on the marriage certificate, of course, who actually reads one of those. For all I know that official looking paper could have stated that I have one 10 million dollars or I just became an organ donor. Oh well, my marriage won’t be like that.
Things went well for quite some time. Alison worked all day and so did I. Then she got laid off from her job and was confronted with all of this free time. I knew that if Oprah was on and she had the remote, sooner or later she would find her, I believe that is part of a women’s sixth sense. They have the innate ability to pick out the most estrogen filled tv program at any time. Since Oprah is on at the same time as Jerry Springer and Battle Bots guess who wins the estrogen battle? The last time I watched Oprah was quite some time ago (she was skinny) maybe she has been cancelled.
After about a week I come home from work and sit down and talk to my wife. I spend what I feel is ample time to talk about our day (3 minutes, I even give her the majority of the 3 minutes) and then I go to the back room to play a relaxing video game. After about 30 or 45 minutes my wife comes in and stands in front of the tv and says (in a gentle non confronting tone), “Brant, I need to talk to you for a minute.” I see 2 problems so far. 1, she is talking calmly, normally she would come in a tell me to “turn off that stupid game and listen”. 2nd, she called me by my name, not a good sign. She comes over and sits on the workout bench, lowers her glasses, and this is where things take a turn for the worse.
She starts off with the comment, “what are some of your expectations of your wife?” I kind of laugh and she tells me that “Alison has some real concerns and you need to address them today.” Why is she referring to herself in 3rd person? It seems that I am not talking to my wife, I am talking to my wife’s therapist. All I could think of is if she was going to role-play, why couldn’t she be Pamela Anderson instead of Dr. Phil. I go along for a bit to see where this is heading. Instead of getting better it gets worse. I find out that I have, what therapists and Oprah listeners refer to as, “emotional constipation”. She then says “your wife has taken a very critical look at the spirit, blah, blah, blah…” (She didn’t actually say blah, blah, blah, that’s just what I heard from that point on.) I did pick up on a few key words, such as “life chain”. I have absolutely no idea what that means but it sound interesting. She also told me, “Brant, do what works!” At this point I start getting a little freaked out and think that I need to contact a priest for the exorcism of the Dr. Phil / Oprah demon that has given my wife a psychology degree. This entire time the tv is off and she is making me look at her, I don’t know how much more I could take. I tell her to quit and she tells me to quite what? The straw that broke the camel’s back was “Brant, you have to name it before you can claim it”. What in the world is she talking about? I get up and storm out of the room. I want my normal, (more normal than now) wife back.
After thinking about if for a second, it’s not my wife’s fault. If anything like this happened to any man out there don’t blame your wife, blame Oprah and Dr. Phil. They are the ones brain washing our wives into thinking that everything we do is because we are upset with our marriage because we were spanked as a kid. I’m sure that in some rare cases what the Dr is saying is very true. Women are helpers and menders and they want to fix us and the good Dr is giving them ammo to do so, but a gun in the wrong hands can be dangerous. Let me give you this one example and you tell me that I don’t have a point.
Pretend that you and your wife are looking at a Victoria Secrets lingerie catalog and you see a picture of one of there beauties wearing next to nothing and you say to your wife, “Hmm, see her uh, legs (you could insert any body part here, any one will work). They sure look smooth, shapely, and tan. THAT WORKS, maybe we should take a more critical look at the rest of her body and set goals for you to look more like that! What do you think?” I’ll tell you what the next words out of your mouth will be, “HONEY, SWEATHEART, PUT DOWN THE BASEBALL BAT!”
I thought I struck it big when I got my first article published in the "Whitesboro News-Record"
Christmas is almost here and I, for one, have always looked forward to it --the songs, Santa at the mall, the Christmas shows on television, the church programs, all the festive lights, everything to get you in the mood for Christmas. However, I have recently learned of a few things that has taken a little of the cheer out of me.
A kid’s Christmas worries are few: 1) what do I want for Christmas? 2) what will I get for Christmas? 3) What am I going to get mom for Christmas (with dad’s money)? However, I learned at an early age that, even though I didn’t understand it, Santa had a tight budget. The Christmas shows never showed Santa over his checkbook rubbing his temples asking how was he going to afford to get all the kids their gifts. This is hard for a kid to understand -- did the elves go union or what? Don’t get me wrong, I got great gifts, but it wasn’t the talking robot like the kids on TV got. Once I turned 16, I always expected to have a new truck with a big red bow sitting in the driveway just like the kids that got the robot. At this point I learned another valuable lesson -- I watched too much TV.
Before marriage, with my own money, I would buy gifts for my parents, sister, granddad, a few friends, and that would be about it. Things changed a bit after marriage. Now my money is no longer my money, it’s our money. By that I mean mostly her money. Her money is mostly her money, and by that I mean that her money is all her money. Now we buy gifts for all that I mentioned before, plus her parents, brother, sister, two brothers-in-law, four nieces, three nephews, a few more friends, and each other. (Better not forget that last one or I will be sleeping in the spare bedroom until June.) All of those gifts cost money and before you know it they all pile up. But with my Christmas bonus we came out on top. Until…
Last year I learned that Christmas time meant that I would have a balance of $2.11 on December 26th, and after the 26th I would have -$450. Here’s how that happened. My wife went to exchange one shirt and two pairs of jeans. To every guy out there if your wife plans on going to “exchange” a “few” things at the mall, DON’T let her. Do something -- take the battery out of her car then leave or flatten a tire on every vehicle you own, then lose the jack and if you can lose the spare, do it. Then disconnect the phone line so she can’t call any friends.
If not, this will happen. Your wife could come home with two shirts, one sweater, three pairs of jeans, wind pants, Christmas decorations for next year, Christmas cards for next year, a pair of shoes, three candles, a pizza stone (used three times), the George Foreman grill (which we used once), and a bone for the dog. My math isn’t that good but if she spent more than $2 we are going to be in trouble.
I start griping, which I feel I have the right to, but it does no good. She picked up the sweater and says, “See, this USED to be $130, but I got it for $19. This shirt USED to cost $80 and guess how much I got it for?” I kept saying, “If it cost more than $2 we’re are going to be in trouble.” “I got if for $5.99. Isn’t that a great deal?” She then told me that she “saved” over $400.
I’m a little confused. In my wife’s world, which, according to some guy is Venus, how does this make sense? In my mind it goes back to the $2.11. If we have $2.11, and you spend more than that we go in the hole. Not only did we go in the hole, she grabbed a shovel and started digging. We got out of the hole sometime in April.
So you ask, what am I going to do this year? Simple. The only thing I can do and still remain married, is do nothing. Nothing -- except pray for the biggest ice storm in history, and if that doesn’t work, flatten her tires and run, run far and fast.
The joys of Christmas
Have you ever seen those guys walking around at the stores that are mad at everybody and everything? I have found out why they are that way. Those guys, and I now include myself among their ranks, have been put through an agony that has sucked the holiday spirit out of us and it is all our wives’ fault. A wife will put the pressure on her husband, then like a disease it spreads from house to house. It’s the annual ritual (that I am now a reluctant part of) of putting up the lights on the house. This alone is not that bad. It’s the timing that will get you.
A few weeks ago my wife demanded that I put the lights on the house. Not tomorrow, not during the weekend, tonight. The only problem that I had was that this night was the coldest of the year. The temperature never rose above 40 degrees all day, and when the sun went down the temperature did as well. After much arguing I accepted my fate. I would have to go outside, climb a ladder, fight off hypothermia, fend off some penguins (I told you it was cold), and then clip lights on the house.
Let me give you a hint when preparing things. When laying out the lights on the ground outlining the house, remember where they are. If you don’t and you step on one it will break and that will spark another argument.
If I am not mistaken, the colors of Christmas are red, green, and white. Why, then did my wife buy 7 strands of BLUE lights? Where did blue come from. The only thing that I can think of was a song by Elvis called “Blue Christmas” (he must have put lights up for Pricilla once). After putting up one more argument I then put up the lights. I survived physically unscathed, but mentally scarred.
I used to drive by a house in the summer and notice Christmas lights where still up and I would think to myself, “what a shame. Lazy bums.” Now I understand completely. I would like to be a lazy bum myself. I don’t blame those guys for leaving those lights up at all. I might do it myself, even though my wife will probably have another point of view.
However, I have come up with a plan. If I am forced to take the lights down, then I have a plan for taking them down. I am going to grab one end and run. I feel certain that something will come down, perhaps the lights, perhaps some shingles. At this point I don’t care.
Don’t tell my wife, but I’m about to take the ladder out to my parents’ house and hide it. Kind of hard to take down lights when you can’t reach them right? That should buy me a solid 2 to 3 months. Now I am off to work some overtime to pay for the credit card charges and hopefully have them paid off by October. By that time Christmas would have cost me somewhere near the black market value of a lung or depending on the finance charges, a kidney, and more mental anguish than Bill Gates could afford. Merry Christmas?