Mary Ellen and I were at the opticians picking out a new pair of glasses for me that were a bit pricey. I often lose my specs, making such a purchase a poor investment. In addition, our beagle chews anything he can get his jaws on. I decided to share this problem with the salesperson. "You know, these are very nice, but I'm afraid Toby might chew them. Toby is..."

With that, my wife burst into laughter. "That's very funny," she said.

"What's funny?"

"Well, you were about to say 'Toby is our son.' Very humorous, and you allowed just enough pause to make the joke work."

"Wait a second, how did you know I was going to say that?"

"You were, weren't you?"

"Okay, I was-but I should have had the fun of saying it myself."

Then, later that week, we attended a church service. Afterwards, one of the members of the congregation invited us to their home for dinner. "That's so nice of you, Noelle," said my wife.

"Yes," said Noelle, "we really would love to have you guys over. But I have to ask: are either of you allergic to cats?"

My wife whispered in my ear, "Very funny."

"What is?" I whispered back.

"Aren't you going to say 'No, we're not, but we'd prefer beef or chicken?' That would be very clever. A little gross, but still clever. B+."

Honestly, I wish I had thought of saying that. And I am starting to get worried. I'm supposed to be the witty one in this marriage. Not only that: Mary Ellen is starting to give my ad libs a grade. I don't care what the context is, wives should not rate their hubby's performance. (I've gotten a few gentlemen's C's before.)

The other day, Mary Ellen was on her way to the dentist. As I walked over to the door to kiss her goodbye, she said to me, "I am not really looking forward to this." Then before I could say anything, she said: "That is not amusing."

"What's not?"

"After I said I was dreading this, you were going to say, 'Well, then let's just make it a friendly hug.' You were shifting the frame of reference between my going to the dentist and kissing you, giving the listener-in this case me-a temporary incongruity to solve. Good in theory, but totally predictable. B minus."

Oh no. Not only is she anticipating my jokes and grading them, but she is analyzing them, too. I told her how depressed this all made me-the fact she is more clever and intelligent than I am.

"It's no big deal, Dick. Come on, let's forget about it. I am planning a nice dinner for the two of us."

"Let me guess: Baked chicken, coleslaw and homemade three-bean salad."

"That's exactly right. How did you know that? You are pretty good at analysis and prediction, yourself. That's what I call intuition."

"No, that's what I call leftovers."

Dick Wolfsie is a TV personality, who was watched a staple on WISH-TV with his faithful dog, Barney, for years.

He is a columnist whose work usually appears Mondays in The Paper of Montgomery County.

He is also a book author.