Doing the Math

If we, men, imagined marriage as a non-profit enterprise, in which pleasure and happiness are a highly-valuable commodity―more valuable than currency itself―and then put pen to paper to work on a mathematical equation to calculate our equity, we would see that the balance is not always positive. The woman is the variable in this equation.


Ernesto wanted to buy a snooker table to put in the garage. Before talking it over with his wife, he went to stores to research prices so he could return home with a dozen estimates and a strategic plan in mind.

Dalva was washing the dishes, so Ernesto proceeded to implementing the first part of his plan: Seduction. He embraced her from behind and kissed her neck, showing her some affection. He then promptly started to dry the recently-washed dishes.

“Hmmm,” Dalva muttered suspiciously. “You must really want something.”

“What? Me... No, nothing.”

“Don't try to pull one on me, Neto. Last time you decided to help me with household chores was when you wanted to buy a new TV. Go ahead, spill the beans.

“Well, I... I was thinking about buying a snooker table.”

“Don't even think about it!”

“But, honey, it will be cool! I can call Cláudio once in a while to come and play while you and his wife are gossiping.”

“Now you're calling me a gossip?”

“Honey, let's face the facts. Besides, you'll have the TV all to yourself while I'm playing.”

“But, Neto, how much will it cost us?”

“Well, I've been researching it and the one I wanted is $1,600. Marble finish, hardwood body... It even comes with the set of balls and cues. It's wonderful!”

“$1,600?! No, Neto, no way. We're saving for a new car, as you know well.”

He knew it. And he was ready with a comeback.

“Do the math with me,” he started. “How long did it take us to save $1,600?”

“Three months.”

“Exactly, three months. How long will it still take us to buy a car?”

“Two years.”

“That's it, two years. So, think with me: I would rather wait another three months on top of the two years to buy a car and have my snooker table now, instead of waiting to buy the table only after we get the car, which would take us two years and three months.”

“Yeah, good logic,” Dalva agreed. “So...”


“So, if we follow your logic, we could use this money to buy a dryer, which is something we need more than a pool table.”

“How come WE need it? I don't do the laundry!”

“And I don't play snooker!”

“But you could start. I guarantee that with just a little practice you can even beat Rui Chapéu.”

“And you could start putting the clothes on the clothesline. I guarantee with just a little practice your back will hurt just as much as mine.”

He wasn't ready for that, but he wouldn't give up so easily.

“I'll quit smoking,” he lied. He knew that, as soon as he bought the table, he wouldn't cue the first ball without a cigarette in the corner of this mouth.

“Will you, really?”

“Of course I will! Look, I spend $100 a month in cigarettes. So, if I quit smoking and buy the table now, it will be paid off in sixteen months with the money I'll save going without cigarettes.”

“Great idea! Quit smoking and we can buy the dryer.”

“God, no! I won't make sacrifices to buy a dryer! You can make the sacrifice. I don't know... Stop going to the hair salon.”

“Neto, we're not getting a snooker table, and that's it! Actually, if you want to buy it, sell your old car. This way, we'll have more room in the garage for the new car.”

“Sell my old Opala? Yeah, right!”

“So no snooker table.”

He would have to take action and be a Man. Yes, with a capital “M.” It was all or nothing.

“Know what? I'm buying the table. Case closed!”

“Okay. If you buy it, no more sex.”

“That's low, woman!”

Ernesto, defeated and crestfallen, sat down on the couch with his beer in hand and started thinking about divorce. What would be so bad about the single life? He could drink and smoke as he pleased. He wouldn't have a curfew. He could drop off his clothes at the laundry, and it would go without saying that his snooker table would be in the middle of the living room, not in the garage. Sex? He wasn't that ugly and could get a one-night stand once in awhile. Besides, there would always be prostitutes. He only had to get in the car and... Ah, the car! The good old Opala '87. He had been the one and only owner and the car was immaculate, without one single scratch... But, the car was in her name! If he asked for the divorce, he would have to part ways with the Opala.

“You know, honey? Come to think of it, you do need a dryer...”

Gustavo Pierobom was born in Pelotas, State of Rio Grande do Sul. He was going to Business School college, but decided to quit before getting his degree, and now works as a salesperson in Florianópolis, State of Santa Catarina. 

He writes a little bit of everything, from humorous chronicles that depict every-day life in Brazil, to police, horror, and drama stories. However, he flirts with western themes, which in a literary sense aren't approached as much as they used to—he would actually like to publish a novel on the theme. Also, he prefers giving not-so-happy ends to his characters. 

To read some of his writings, check out his blog Contos e Crônicas do Guga” [Guga's Short Stories and Chronicles]