Free Friday: The Antelope in the Living Room

Excerpt from The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle.

Dr. Seuss once said, “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”


And that’s nice and all.

But then you get married and reality isn’t always that great because maybe somebody snores or is kind of weird about “staying within the household budget,” and your dreams start to look pretty good by comparison. Because marriage can be the biggest blessing and the most significant challenge two people ever take on.

It’s the joy of knowing there is someone to share in your sorrows and triumphs and the challenge of living with someone who thinks it’s a good idea to hang a giant antelope on your living room wall.

The days are filled with laughter and compromise. And then there are days filled with silence and anger. But at the end of it all, you’re two people God has joined to journey through life together. For better or for worse. In hunting season and in health.

A few weeks ago, I spent most of the day at my best friend Gulley’s house. It was one of those rare, gorgeous Saturdays in Texas when the weather is absolutely perfect. We’d spent our time catching up on life while the kids ran around the yard and did their best to see if there was a way one of them could end up in the ER before nightfall. It’s like their hobby to see which of them can make us yell first, “WHY DID YOU DO THAT? YOU’RE GOING TO KILL YOURSELF!”

As day turned to evening, Gulley invited us to stay for dinner. So I called Perry to let him know that was the plan, and he said he’d meet us at Gulley’s in the next hour or so to help with the grilling of the meat. Because nothing really brings men together like building a fire and cooking on it. I’m pretty sure that’s in the book of Proverbs.

And since it was after five o’clock by that point, and since nothing wears you out quite like watching your children try to push each other off a trampoline, Gulley and I sat out on the swing in her backyard and began to reflect on life in that way you do with your best friend.

The past week had been full of various political rants in the news, and seeing as we’d already covered our latest thoughts on The Bachelor and how we felt about colored skinny jeans, our conversation turned to these controversial topics. I was feeling pretty good about life and began a whole discourse on how all we need is love. Just like the Beatles told us in 1967.

I said I felt like maybe I’d been too harsh in the past. Too black and white. Too quick to judge someone before thinking about how they might feel or what they’ve been through. I’m sure by this time I was waving my hands wildly in that way I do when I feel strongly about something, and I concluded this whole diatribe by saying, “I want my next forty years to be about love. If I err, then let me err on the side of love. May it be said of me that I always erred on the side of love.”

Gulley nodded and we toasted to erring on the side of love, feeling pretty good about ourselves and our new magnanimous take on life. Then I looked up and saw that Perry had arrived. So we made our way back into the house to figure out what we needed to do to get dinner started.

I kissed him on the cheek as I walked into the living room, and he asked, “What were y’all talking about out there on the swing?” Feeling good about my new resolution, I replied, “I was telling Gulley that I’ve decided maybe I’ve been too hard on people in the past. From now on, I’m going to err on the side of love.”

(Please picture me saying that like I’m Ghandi. I felt like I’d never been more profound.)

Perry looked right and me and without missing a beat said, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Well, I bet no one ever talked like that to Ghandi.

But that’s marriage. You are two very different people who aren’t going to agree on everything. There are times you might feel like the person you married is dead inside because they want to quote the apostle Paul after you’ve just declared that you want to err on the side of love. And sometimes those moments will lead to a fight in the middle of your best friend’s living room that causes her and her husband to find an excuse to leave the room.

Hypothetically speaking.

Marriage is a constant push and pull of thoughts and ideas and values and arguing over whether $100 is too much to pray for a pair of jeans. (It’s not.) But it’s also the most literal example of how iron sharpens iron.

When I look back on sixteen years Perry and I have been married, I can see the places where we’ve made each other better. There are parts of us etched into each other like the rings in the trunk of a tree.

We’ve grown, we’ve changed, we’ve been forever marked. And ultimately, we are so much better together than either of us would be on our own.

Sometime we err on the side of love, and sometimes we think that’s a dumb idea. But we are in this thing together for the rest of our lives—not just for better or for worse, but for better AND worse. No one else drives me crazier, makes me laugh louder, or causes me to fall in love all over again when I least expect it.

And that’s what this book is about. The times that brought us together and the time we were falling apart. The days that we wouldn’t trade for anything in this world, and the days that he hung an antelope on my wall.

Welcome to my story of a real marriage. Dead animals and all.

We’re giving away three copies of Melanie’s new book, The Antelope in the Living Room! To enter, leave a comment telling us the most ridiculous/silly/random item your husband has ever brought home (like the antelope’s head in Melanie’s story).

By entering today’s giveaway, you acknowledge LifeWay Christian Resource’s official promotion rulesToday’s giveaway starts at the posting time of this blog and ends next Tuesday (2/25/13) at 11:59 p.m. CST. You must be 18 to enter, and you may only enter once. The winner will be selected at random. For questions about the rules and regulations of this giveaway, please contact Bud Harlan at One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-140.


  1. says

    I never knew my husband had a love for toy tractors when we married. (1/16 scale only!!) When we built our first house, I noticed he had included some (a lot) of shelves in the den area. I was thrilled hoping to fill these with books and glassware but when we moved in, I discovered it was for John Deere Tractors…lots of them…including cotton pickers and combines. It was not what I wanted on the shelves but they stayed. I found myself explaining to visitors the value of these toys….oh the joy of marriage.

  2. Carrie S says

    An industrial size metal mixing bowl. The kind middle school cafeteria workers use. Cuz we were a family of 4. FOUR.

  3. Lisa Brown says

    A six pack of full size snickers bars and a pair of workout capris ; – ) It was a very confusing Valentines Day gift…

  4. says

    My husband loves going to auctions and is always surprising me with his “finds” – He has really picked up some great bargains, I’ve kept some and resold others. He came home one day with a truckload of concrete garden figurines – turtles, a hen and her 3 chicks, planters, a fish, a boy and girl fishing, – all cute and small trinkets for the garden…Oh did I fail to mention his bargain included a naked venus de milo lady statue look a like??? Yep – his idea of “fine art” – righto sweetie… – here we are living out in the country – forgetting that his 21 year old son and friend had been visiting us a lot, and he had been witnessing to….yeah…that lovely armless naked lady is now headless and buried… deep…in the backyard… #WHATWASHETHINKING? But I love him dearly <3

  5. says

    Life size cardboard stand-ups of the Kia Hamstars. He propped them up in our bedroom & they scared the life out of me :) Of course, he works for the dealership which is how he got them. Thanks for the chance!

  6. says

    When I was with my husband, he would bring home trolls. Yes, those little tiny plastic naked things with the fuzzy colored hair. He claimed it was because I like to play bingo and they were good luck charms, however, he knew that those things creeped me out and I certainly didn’t like them. Perhaps that would explain the row of 10 or 12 of them that he kept hidden in his window sill…all different colors of hair, all different facial expressions, and all different sizes. Where he found them I have no clue, but it was proven in the end that they definitely were not for me to take to bingo! :-/

  7. Misti says

    A metal, red rooster from Hobby Lobby. I have never taken him in there again. There is NOTHING in our home that is similar in any way to this awful looking rooster. I don’t have any country decorations either. He named it Petie and it sits on the mantel of our fireplace. He will occasionally talk to it as if it were his homie. I am always tempted to throw it away, but he REALLY seems to like it.

  8. Stephanie says

    I love my husband, but he loves to watch those infomercials. He is in every other way very discerning, but somehow they just suck him in. He once purchased one of those electrical stimulation abdominal belts to help he & I to get tight abs …

  9. says

    I love Melanie! My husband once brought home a mirror in the shape of a moose, and then was offended when it didn’t go in the living room. Oh, marriage! Wouldn’t trade it for anything! P.S. The mirror now hangs in our guest bathroom :)

  10. CyndaP says

    This is slightly random. My husband is a dog person, I’m a cat person. One day he brought an abandoned, very young kitten home because no one at the office would take it and he knew I would take care of it. It was completely unexpected!

  11. Donna says

    A Hav-a-Heart squirrel trap so he wouldn’t hurt the squirrels but could relocate them. He used it maybe two weeks and it is now sitting in our basement.

  12. says

    My husband is a computer programmer and when we married he hadn’t had much experience with working on a house. After we bought our first house, he was really enthusiastic about everything he could do to fix it up. To his credit, he’s even amazing and I’m really impressed with all he’s learned. (Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying to think I’m bashing him.)

    One day he came home from a garage sale with a bright yellow hard hat. He placed it on a shelf in the garage assuring me it’s going to come in handy some day. …it’s been collecting dust ever since, but has become a source of comedic relief for us. I love him–hard hat and all. :)

  13. says

    When we were engaged, my husband bought an end table for our home at a consignment sale. I just never loved that end table and it finally found a new home. :) I can’t wait to read Melanie’s new book!

  14. Jeannie says

    I don’t even have to think very hard on this one as it just happened last week. He brought home new wiper blades for me for Valentine’s Day. And he was serious! He thought I would be happy about it!

  15. Linsey Outlaw says

    My beloved cat Chloe died suddenly; jaundice was the cause. My husband brought me home flowers. Yellow flowers. @.@

  16. says

    My husband makes hospital furniture for a living. When we built our house, funds got quite low. So, he brought home hospital waiting room furniture for our living room. Great conversation starters there.

  17. Angie Miller says

    Well, we also have an antelope. And a bear. And a buffalo. And a kudu. And a pheasant. I could go on and on….. :) Love my husband!

  18. Stephanie Floyd says

    I am divorced but was married for 22 yrs. For one anniversary I came home from a trip very excited to see an nice surprise. I walked in and found a fern in a plant stand with 6 dead roses in it. I called him at work and tried to be appreciative even though I was very disappointed. He said well the roses weren’t dead when I stuck them in the fern. He said that he thought it would look nice to have the roses in them Oh well. I would shake that stupid fern every chance I got. He was a sweeping fanatic. So he had plenty to sweep

  19. Lesley Geer says

    One night on my husband’s way home from work he found a baby owl on the side of the road, with a hurt wing. He kept it for a couple of days and decided it was too hard to keep an owl as a pet. Thanks for the chance to win Melanie’s book!

  20. Teresa Strickland says

    My husband recently brought home a plastic tank to collect rainwater. Said tank is about 6′ in diameter and ONLY 12 FEET TALL. Hubby had previously linked about 6 or 8 55 gallon barrels with PVC to collect rainwater from the garage and woodshop. That obviously was not enough rainwater, so the next addition was a square tank that is about 6′ on each side. With the addition of the new tank, we now have the ability to supply the entire street with rainwater! Not because they have asked us to, just because he can!

  21. Amy says

    Grocery store shelves, the kind they throw away when they close down a store. A life size cut out of Barney, the purple dinosaur. A dog made out of flower pots. The list goes on and on….

  22. Sonia says

    Dead birds, lots of them…they hang on the wall and sit on the shelves in our office. I’ve tried to keep them contained to one room!

  23. Shanon Bagwell says

    My husband and I married 15 years ago this March. My birthday is in June. That June day I opened my gift from him and to my surprise it was a huge ceramic rooster. What in the world…LOL!! I didn’t have the heart to disappoint him, so I displayed that rooster in various different places through the years. It finally broke a couple of years ago and I finally told him that I never understood the reason for it, because I didn’t understand how he thought I would possibly like it. He said that he knew I probably wouldn’t like it but he did. That it was probably the last thing he would ever buy for himself that he liked! LOL…I love that man !!

  24. Allison H says

    Ha, I wish he’d bring home something interesting. Instead it’s always something I spot on the side of the road that I ask him to pick up, usually he does accompanied by some comment about another Pinterest project i will never start or finish. He knows me well.

  25. Kim says

    A huge heavy commercial grade tarp that must have fallen out of another vehicle. He had to swerve on a small two lane road to avoid hitting a big blue bundle. When he stopped and went back to see what it was and move it before someone else hit it (or wrecked trying not to hit it), he loaded it up and brought it home after work not knowing what else to do with it. We’ve used it for years.

  26. Becca Mitchell says

    One of the worse things my husband came home
    with unexpected was an old ugly aluminum duck
    boat that I had no idea about. It was beat up and
    run down. I couldn’t believe he gave good money
    for it. He then asked me to help him paint it and
    camouflage it so the ducks wouldn’t see it. Got to
    love him duck hunting and all. LOL.

  27. Sharon Carter says

    He picked up a black snake he stopped for at a curve in the road on the way home one day. It had been sunning itself on the black tar and my husband thought it would be a good idea to share mother nature with me. This one is not as bad as the Praying Mantis he brought me one day and then lost control of it as it sprang straight towards me across the room.

  28. Laura says

    A 3 foot tall polished brass “L.” He thought I would love it since monograms and initials were all the rage back then. Instead, I thought he was trying to be funny.

  29. J Henry says

    My husband also brought home an antelope head from the neighbor’s house. But he also brought home a cat. He hates cats.

  30. says

    My husband is a soldier, and he took his sergeant with him to the army px to do my valentine shopping. Instead of the bubble bath or gel nails certificate or dinner out I was hoping for, I opened the box to find the most impossibly useless, hideous, hilariously tacky glass THING. It had hearts and swans with necks entwined, and bad poetry etched across it, and a glittering fake diamond glued right into the mirrored base. I can’t make myself get rid of it, but I nearly throw up in my mouth every time I look at it.
    Thank you for the chance to win the book!

  31. Carrie S says

    My favorite is when my beloved comes home from auctions. One time he brought be the prize of an industrial size mixing bowl- cafeteria style. We were then a family of 4 and I failed to see the necessity of industrial kitchen supplies. In his defense- I have used it many many many times. ☺️

  32. Carmen N says

    My husband is one that hates clutter, so I was really surprised when he came home from an auction once with a couple of items. One was a horribly ugly chair – think faded rose-colored fabric with stains and dirt. He said we could always recover it. Never mind the fact that we’ve never done that before. We did try, but he got “stuck” on one aspect and so now the chair sits in our basement, half finished.

  33. LindaN says

    My husband brought home two baby squirrels that had been knocked out of their nest during a thunderstorm. I ended up bottle feeding them and then teaching them how to crack and eat nuts. They were safely released to the wild at a wildlife refuge when old enough. Husband knew I had a soft heart but have to say that it was not the best present he ever gave me!

  34. says

    Okay, what is the strangest thing my hubby brought home. A huge, hairy Boors head complete with open mouth displaying sharp teeth and glass eyes that I swear blink! I know, it isn’t the strangest thing to bring home…it is how and when. My father unfortunately has Alzheimer’s and last summer the fog he lives in was telling him to ‘run away from home’. On a hot and steamy day last Aug, my dad took off down the highway. The family split up trying to find him before the local sheriff picked him up once again. My hubby spotted a garage sale down the road and argued with himself about whether to keep going or take a quick peek. He peeked. He found buried in the back of the garage something no house should be without! A 25lb, 3 foot tall, Boors head! When we met up at my moms house 2 hours later, my hubby announced that couldn’t find my dad but to cheer up at what he did find, He opened the back of my Jeep and there it was, staring at me. Our ‘trophy’ now sits in the guest bathroom with the sole purpose of scaring folks as they turn on the light. And yes, we found my dad safe and sound a couple of towns away, he managed to hitch hike about an hour from home!

  35. Allison Roth says

    The most ridiculous thing my husband ever brought home were a ridiculous amount of palettes. We only needed two to make a table, but he ended up becoming a palette hoarder. He has never made anything with the extras, but he still spots them wherever we go 😉

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