Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz argue as Lucy and Ricky on the show I Love Lucy
It seems cliché that I, a gringa married to a Latino, should identify so much with I Love Lucy, but some scenes feel like watching home movies of our marriage that I didn’t know anyone was taking.
One episode in particular gets to me every time it’s on. This same scene, which I’ve seen dozens of times, makes me laugh at the familiarity, but it has also made me cry on occasions.
The episode is called “The Matchmaker“, (not to be confused with “Lucy is a Matchmaker” which is another episode.) In “The Matchmaker” episode, Lucy invites an unmarried couple over for dinner with plans to show them what a happy marriage looks like. Unfortunately, the baby cries, dinner burns, and when Ricky finds out what Lucy is up to, he sabotages the effort by pointing out and exaggerating all the negative aspects of marriage – As a result, Lucy and Ricky have a big argument right in front of their guests.
The next morning Ricky waits at the kitchen table for his breakfast, but Lucy hasn’t forgiven him for ruining everything the night before. Another argument unfolds where some pretty harsh words are spoken.
Lucy: Well for once I decided not to do what you told me!
Ricky: For once?! You never do what I told you!
Lucy: Then why don’t you quit tolding me?!
Ricky: Ay qué barbaridad, por qué tiene la cabeza mas dura de ninguna mujer que yo conocido en toda la vida entera!?
Lucy: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but Spanish names won’t hurt me!
Ricky: Sometimes I wish I never left Cuba!
Lucy: That makes two of us!
It’s just a TV show, and yet it’s not. Lucy and Desi’s off-screen marital problems are no secret. They were passionately in love but they couldn’t always get along. I guess it scares me sometimes because Carlos and I are the same way. Even after fourteen years of marriage, our relationship still resembles an episode of I Love Lucy more often than not. Each episode is full of humor, plans gone wrong, misunderstandings, arguments, hurt feelings, and ultimately, the realization that despite it all, they not only love each other – they can’t live without each other.
In this particular episode, after that argument in the kitchen, Ricky goes out, saying he’ll never return. When night falls and he still isn’t home, Lucy begins to wonder if it’s true. At Fred and Ethel’s apartment she seeks comfort and Fred assures Lucy that Ricky is just doing what any man would do – he’s just staying out late enough to give her a good scare.
Lucy decides she’ll give Ricky a scare of his own by not being in their apartment when he returns and sends Fred up there to watch the baby so she can stay downstairs with Ethel. Fred goes upstairs, crawls into Lucy’s bed and falls asleep but soon Ricky has come home with a box of chocolates and flowers.
Sitting on the edge of his bed, Ricky apologizes to who he thinks is Lucy, but, as we know, is really Fred beneath the blankets.
“Lucy, Lucy…” he says sweetly, “I’m home. Sweetheart, I guess I owe you an apology. I shouldn’t have said all those awful things that I said. I was in a bad humor and I just blew my top, that’s all. But darling, you know I love being married to you, honey. You are the dearest, sweetest, most wonderful person in the world. You know, I wasn’t going to come home tonight just to teach you a lesson… And then I got to walking around and I, I started thinking about all the wonderful times that we’ve had together and how much we meant to each other and well… I brought you some flowers and some candy. Honey, I won’t blame you if you never spoke to me again, but sweetheart, please say you forgive me, darling?”
At this point, Fred pops out from beneath the blankets, and Lucy and Ethel appear, laughing, having overheard the whole thing. Embarrassed and angry, Ricky puts his hat and coat back on, ready to leave once again. Lucy blocks the door and begs him to stay.
Just at that moment, the doorbell rings – it’s a telegram from the unmarried couple they had invited for dinner at the beginning of the episode. Lucy reads the telegram aloud:
“We figured if you two characters could put up with each other for thirteen years there must be something to this marriage business so we’re giving it a try.”
Everyone laughs, Ricky and Lucy kiss, and they all live happily ever after… until the next episode.
Note: All images are screen captures of video still frames. The rights to I Love Lucy are owned by CBS.