This Ain't No "Gift of the Magi"

This Ain't No "Gift of the Magi"
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2008

It's the age old story: boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy visits brothel, boy finds girl working in brothel, girl divorces boy.

If I had a dollar for every time that happened, I'd have, well, a dollar.

According to a Reuters news story, it happened to a Polish man this past January. He was visiting a local brothel when he found his wife was working there. And not at the snack stand, if you know what I mean. She had told her husband she was working at a store in another town, when in truth she was peddling her wares a little closer to home.

Apparently, the hickeys and smell of cheap vodka and shame weren't a tip-off that something was wrong. He wasn't too quick on the uptake either.

The Polish tabloid Super Express said the woman had been working at the house of ill-repute to make a little money on the side. (Or on her back if you want to get technical about it.)

All of which resulted in a slew of jokes that end with "that was no prostitute, that was my wife."

"I was dumbfounded. I thought I was dreaming," the unnamed man told Super Express. "And not the good kind either, where my wife turns into Carmen Electra."

This is what's known as a Catch-22. They needed the extra money, because he kept spending it on prostitutes. She became a prostitute to earn extra money, which he promptly spent on more prostitutes.

It reminds me, in some twisted way, of the O. Henry "Gift of the Magi" Christmas story.

"I sold my father's pocket watch to buy some tortoise-shell combs for your beautiful hair," he said.

"But I sold my hair to a wig maker to buy a platinum fob for your pocket watch," she said.

"That's just great. Your hair will grow back, but where the heck am I going to get another pocket watch?"

You have to wonder how this guy even found her. Did they pass in the hallway and try to pretend they didn't recognize each other? Or did they get matched up through a malicious quirk of fate? Did he have to pay the full price, or did he get a discount? Makes you wonder why they didn't just skip the middle-madam altogether and go home.

Unfortunately Reuters and Super Express were less than helpful answering these questions, so this is how I think it went.

Husband: What are you doing here?

Wife: I could ask you the same thing.

Husband: Don't change the subject. What the f&#! are you doing here?

Wife: I think you just answered your own question. So why are you here? And why do all my co-workers know you by name?

Husband: Uh, would you believe I'm a health inspector?

Wife: No, because you're a welder.

Husband: Researching a book?

Wife: You barely graduated high school.

Husband: Yeah, well what about you? You told me you were working at the Gas and Gulp in Parzniew, and instead I find you here.

Wife: I had to earn some extra money to support us. We've been falling short $100 every week, so I had to start working here to make up the difference.

Husband: Well, I'd better run, I left the oven on.

Wife: Wait a minute, I make $100 a week here. You son of a--!

So who's to blame for all of this? The husband, who apparently made a habit of visiting brothels and paying for his adultery? Or the wife who actually profited from it?

Like most stupid families, I think they can equally share the blame If he hadn't been paying for sex, they wouldn't have needed the extra money. On the other hand, there are plenty of jobs that don't involve having sex with strangers. Like animal carcass remover for the highway department, septic tank inspector, or telemarketer, just without the dignity and self-respect.

Understandably, the couple is getting a divorce after 14 years of marriage. And I bet the wife is the only one who can afford a divorce lawyer, since she's got better earning potential than he does. But how do you even explain it to your friends and family?

"Sheila and I are getting a divorce because I found her working in a brothel."

"Bob and I are getting a divorce because he was visiting a brothel."

It's the answer to the next question that will be a little harder to explain.

"That's awful! How did you find out?"

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