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Liar Liar… Pants on Fire

October 1, 2010

When couples have lived together for a number of years, they either retreat into separate closets, divorce, or learn to read and understand each other. Sometimes they even stay in love.

Understanding each other is rarely a balanced equation. My wife says she can read me like a book, and she can, whereas I have no idea what’s going on inside that gorgeous, intelligent, talented head of hers.

Click here to see more cartoons by W.B. Park on Cartoonbank.com.

Years ago, my parents invited a couple over for dinner. After a drink or two, the man told them his wife occasionally used to go into a kind of trance. She would sit motionless for long periods of time, staring off into the distance, and he was fascinated. He said he speculated for years on what sort of deep, challenging ideas she was thinking through. He said he finally decided she wasn’t thinking at all; she was just sitting there.

Now, had he had the brain of a blowfish, he would have known better than to tell that little anecdote, even if he was only trying for a cheap laugh. I’ll bet he didn’t laugh much when she got him home.

Women certainly do show an uncanny ability to see through most of the flimsy, ill-thought-out excuses their spouses bring up for getting away with something. It is instructive to look back several centuries to see an example of the male mind working at subterfuge on an impressively large scale. So creative was this attempt, it actually worked. For a while.

Ephesus was a magnificent city on the west coast of Asia Minor, with a history stretching back into the mists of the Neolithic Age. By the Roman era, Ephesus’ population was exceeded only by that of Rome. There were impressive temples, statues, a huge amphitheater, and one of the fabled seven churches of Asia recorded in the Book of Revelation. The social life was so robust, several of the main streets were kept ablaze with torches far into each night.

One of the most fascinating buildings in the city was the library of Celsus, which once housed nearly 12,000 scrolls. Part of the ornate façade still stands, several layers of columns high. For decades, the library was the favorite gathering place of the men of Ephesus. Every night after dinner, men left their homes and headed for the library.

The women of Ephesus found this behavior puzzling, but welcomed it. Not only did this give them quiet evenings to themselves, but they much preferred their men to be reading rather than spending their time in the various taverns and other drinking establishments, swilling wine and flirting with the loud and familiar waitresses of these places. Many of the men were illiterate, being ordinary soldiers and laborers, but there were also politicians, philosophers, and other learned types who enjoyed spending time at the library. This could not help but improve them, whatever their station in life. So reasoned the women of Ephesus for many years.

Finally, truth found its torch-lit way into the sundry homes of the city:

The special feature which attracted so much of the male population to the library was a secret tunnel. It began at the bottom of a hidden marble stair in the floor of this famous seat of learning, and led surreptitiously across the street to a learning center of quite a different sort, coming up in the anteroom of the most lavishly decorated, notorious brothel in the Roman Empire.

Rumor has it the library was destroyed by an irate throng of townswomen, shortly after this perfidious arrangement of the Ephesian men was laid bare for all to see.

Now look at my cartoon. Imagine a Roman toga on the portly little man and him having just said, “Dear, think I’ll stroll down to the library and study a bit, okay?”

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2 Comments
  1. stepwilk permalink
    October 14, 2010 3:03 pm

    This really comes under the heading of “You learn something every day.” Well, maybe not -every- days, but let’s say once a week.

    I will never look at the Cornwall, New York, Public Library, which I frequent, in the same way, particularly since I’ve never ventured through the door marked “Friends of the Library only.”

    • October 14, 2010 4:05 pm

      Thanks, Steve. If you by chance see marble steps and a tunnel, you might learn even more. Will

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