The Pendulum Condondrum

When I fall into bed each night my head full is of plans and promises for the morrow – self made promises to exercise more, eat less, finish the curriculum, write a letter of thanks… Then morning comes, reality smacks me in the face, and the plans go sailing away only to return again as I climb into bed at the end of the day. 

Sometimes I think my life reads like an O. Henry short story,The Pendulum, in particular.  In case you are unfamiliar with said story, it is the tale of John Perkins who leads a monotonous life and retires to his flat each evening where his newly-wedded wife Katy awaits.  Unfortunately, he must spend the evening listening to his noisy neighbors. 

John Perkins knew these things would happen. And he knew that at a quarter past eight he would summon his nerve and reach for his hat, and that his wife would deliver this speech in a querulous tone:

"Now, where are you going, I’d like to know, John Perkins?"

"Thought I’d drop up to McCloskey’s," he would answer, "and play a game or two of pool with the fellows."

Of late such had been John Perkins’s habit. At ten or eleven he would return. Sometimes Katy would be asleep; sometimes waiting up, ready to melt in the crucible of her ire a little more gold plating from the wrought steel chains of matrimony.

Only one night , he comes home and his wife isn’t there with her usual warm greeting.  In her place is an apartment littered with her belongings and a note saying that she’s gone to visit her mother who has taken ill.

The distraught husband walks around the apartment in a confused haze.  He longingly lingers over her possessions and begins to realize how much his wife means to him and how sorry he is for the way he has mistreated her.  He eats his dinner in silence and swears that he will be a different man and make it up to her.  Just as his eyes fill with tears, in walks his bride.  She begins telling him about her day but he only returns her chatter with a stare.  And then…

John Perkins looked at the clock. It was 8.15. He reached for his hat and walked to the door.

"Now, where are you going, I’d like to know, John Perkins?" asked Katy, in a querulous tone.

"Thought I’d drop up to McCloskey’s," said John, "and play a game or two of pool with the fellows."


 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
– Romans 7:19

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