Master and Commander

Descending the staircase long after Mr. Henry and his noble hound Pepper have risen, like a Prius on a downhill glide Mrs. Henry gains momentum silently. By the time the kitchen floorboards meet her little feet, she is captain in command of the bridge, issuing morning orders, sharp and firm.

Should Mr. Henry have neglected to water a plant or deposit a check, taking as examples two recently cited violations, Mrs. Henry may be forced to narrow her gaze and deliver her prepared remarks in clipped, crisp military tones.

Like any commander, her leadership apparatus seems to enjoy these little jolts. Once in a while when she looks a little sluggish, Mr. Henry will deliberately leave something in the wrong place or otherwise violate well-established rules. On cue, she erupts.

One good grouse in the morning and she’s right as rain for the whole day.


During the skirmish Little Henry heads directly for the front door, foregoing the covert gulp of Dad’s coffee. With sure survival instinct Pepper takes a defensive position under the dining room table.

In high-risk engagements like these, Mr. Henry’s finds his best course of action is not to engage. His fallback tactic is to feign deafness. Of course, this doesn’t really work, and perhaps never did, but it always buys a little time, perhaps enough to change the subject or be stricken by what insurance underwriters call “an act of God.”

After years of battlefield experience he knows better than to ask a question. Each question of his will be met by a question of hers slightly off subject. Another round of question-meeting-question leads the discussion deeper into a thicket. When she draws attention to her sainted forbearance and long-suffering patience, Mr. Henry may be tempted to toss off an Oscar Wildean witticism about how remarkably short her long-suffering can be. But he refrains. He hopes to live a long and fruitful life, thanks to having found his rightful place in the chain of command.

And did he mention that she is an angel in human form? Well, he can be neglectful.

5 Responses to “Master and Commander”

  1. Elisabeth August 3, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Thank you, Mr. Henry for a pleasant little jolt.
    And now some coffee, please.
    Leave while still able.

  2. marvel August 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    My 5 yr old has recently been watching old Charlie Brown specials on DVD. The following exchange ensued:

    Daughter: Mommy, why is Lucy so bossy?
    Me: I don’t know, Sweetie, sometimes people are just born bossy.
    Daughter: Were you born bossy, Mommy?
    Me: Um, I don’t know, Sweetie, do you think I’m bossy?
    Daughter: No, you’re not bossy. (Pause) Well, sometimes you boss Daddy.

  3. Ann August 4, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    Oddly enough, I just borrowed Master and Commander from the library. I doubt it will help me achieve tactical superiority in my own household, though. Perhaps Mrs. Henry gives seminars?

  4. spackler August 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    Mr. Henry is wise beyond his years to understand the secret of perfect domestic harmony.

  5. DarkEmpress August 12, 2010 at 12:46 am #

    If you enjoy Mad Men, I would encourage you to start a Mad Men blog. I have not found one that I like, but I am sure that you could write one that many would love!