The Scorecard

by Marguerite Murer



As the movie came to an end, the room filled with chatter. The warm fire, twinkling Christmas lights and laughter from family brought a contented smile to my face. 
The minute Mom said, "Who wants…" 
The room emptied quicker than the stands at a losing football game.

My boyfriend, Todd and I were the only ones left. With a bewildered look on his face, he asked me what just happened. 
Catching the laughter on my mom's face, I said to Todd, "We are going to go put gas in my mom's car."
He quickly replied, "It's freezing out there and it's almost 11.30 p.m." 
Smiling, I said, "Then you better put on your coat and gloves."

After hurriedly chipping the frost off the windshield, we bundled into the car. On the way to the gas station, Todd asked me to explain why in the world we were going to get my mom gas so late at night. 
Chuckling, I said, "When my siblings and I come home for the holidays, we help my dad get gas for my mom. It has turned into a game with all of us. We can tell when my mom is going to ask and the last one in the room has to go."
"You have got to be kidding me!" Todd responded.
"There is no getting out of it." I said.

While pumping the gas, we clapped our hands and jumped around to stay warm. 
"I still don't get it. Why doesn't your mom put the gas in the car herself?" Todd asked.
With mirth in my eyes, I said, "I know it sounds insane, but let me explain. My mom has not pumped gas in over two decades. My dad always pumps gas for her." 
With a confused look, Todd asked if my dad was ever annoyed with having to pump gas for his wife all the time. 
Shaking my head, I simply said, "No, he has never complained."
"That's crazy." Todd quickly replied.
"No, not really." I explained patiently.

"When I came home for the holidays during my sophomore year in college, I thought I knew everything. I was on this big female independence kick.”

“One evening, my mom and I were wrapping presents and I told her that when I get married, my husband is going to help clean, do laundry, cook, the whole bit. Then I asked her if she ever got tired of doing the laundry and dishes. She calmly told me it did not bother her. This was difficult for me to believe. I began to give her a lecture about this being the nineties and equality between the sexes."

“Mom listened patiently. Then, after setting the ribbon aside, she looked me square in the eyes and said, 'Someday, dear, you will understand.'”

"This only irritated me more. I didn't understand one bit. And so I demanded more of an explanation. Mom smiled, and began to explain, ‘In a marriage, there are some things you like to do and some things you don't. So, together, you figure out what little things you are willing to do for each other. You share the responsibilities. I really don't mind doing the laundry. Sure, it takes some time, but it is something I do for your dad. On the other hand, I do not like to pump gas. The smell of the fumes bothers me. And I don't like to stand out in the freezing cold. So, your dad always puts gas in my car. Your dad grocery shops and I cook. Your dad mows the grass, and I clean. I could go on and on.'”

“'You see,' my mother continued, 'in marriage, there is no scorecard. You do little things for each other to make the other's life easier. If you think of it as helping the person you love, you don't become annoyed with doing the laundry or cooking, or any task, because you're doing it out of love.'”

"Over the years, I have often reflected on what my mom said. She has a great perspective on marriage. I like how my mom and dad take care of each other. And you know what? One day, when I'm married, I don't want to have a scorecard either."

Todd was unusually quiet on the rest of the way home. After he shut off the engine, he turned to me and took my hands in his with a warm smile and a twinkle in his eye.

"Anytime you want," he said in a soft voice, "I'll pump gas for you."