Things I Do My Wife Can’t Stand

My wife loves me. I am one thousand percent sure of this. She has been by my side through countless illnesses. She is my first and best editor of my work, and is so attuned to my plays that she often directs them without a word from me. She gave me my two sons, who are both smart, beautiful and creative souls, when they aren’t trying to kill each other. We laugh a lot. She likes my bald head (with a little peach fuzz—the full shave freaks her out a little bit). She’s a fantastic cook and makes a great cup of coffee.

I have no idea why she stays with me.

I have a few—let’s call them idiosyncrasies—that make me nearly impossible for her to be in my presence. Nothing earth-shattering. Basically I’m a pretty good husband and all that, or at the very least I try very hard. Yet, there are times I know she would like to stick a fork in my eye.

I leave things open. Drawers, cabinets, refrigerator doors, bathroom vanities—pretty much anything with hinges. It’s something I have absolutely no control over, and I have tried to change my behavior for the last fourteen years. Apparently this “leave it open” gene has been passed down to my children, because if Conor is hungry he will open six cabinet doors looking for the cereal box, another to get a bowl, a drawer to get a spoon, and the refrigerator door to get the milk. He doesn’t even put the top back on the milk, or close up the cereal box. The rest of the kitchen looks like we’ve been visited by a poltergeist who likes Fruit Loops. Mary El gives me that thin-lipped Irish mother look, because she knows it’s all my fault.

I have a way of combining platitudes in such a way that she knows exactly what I mean, but it make no real sense in the English language. “Any friend of yours is welcome in mi casa.” “A bird in the hand is a penny earned.” “That’s the dog calling the kettle black.” I’ve got a million of them. I KNOW what the correct idiom should be (I AM a writer, after all, fwah fwah), but when it comes time to actually finish the thought out loud it becomes a bowl of Chex Mix. The latest explanation I offered for my deficiency was this: “I am a writer, and I am always searching for a different way to express myself. I won’t be contained by mundane cliches! I’m forging my own brand new platitudes!”

“Yeah, right, you just can’t say one without screwing it up.” Ah, well. I gave it a shot. Hello, my name is Brian and I have a platitude problem… Whew. It feels good to let that cat out of the bucket.

I don’t know the “correct” way to do household chores. I know what you’re thinking, I’m probably doing them half-assed so I don’t get asked again, but believe me when I say I’m not that bright. Mary El taught me the accepted procedure to fold a shirt that will ensure that a) it won’t wrinkle and make people think our kids come from trash and b) it will be nice and flat so it will fit into the drawer. I always end up with a pile twice the size of hers. If you held a gun to my head I couldn’t do it the way she showed me. I’m just physically incapable, I swear. When I do the dishes to put into the dishwasher, I don’t use enough soap. I was always from the school of thought that the DISHWASHER was supposed to provide the soap, but apparently there’s a pre-washing method that ensures a complete clean. I am not well versed in this method. It took me about seven years to get the hang of properly hanging up a towel after using it. The way I did it (balled up and stuffed sideways) didn’t really give the towel an adequate opportunity to dry. I finally did get that one down, though. It only took slightly longer than a term in the Senate, but at least I got results.

I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. I think what’s gotten me by thus far is my ability to completely cop to being a moron. I don’t offer resistance, I just throw up my hands and say “I’m an idiot.” I lose things if they’re not stapled to my forehead. I prefer to never use the phone unless absolutely necessary. I could get a speeding ticket on the Autobahn. I’m about as handy as my cat, and at least he can catch mice. But I’m honest about it. That and the one-woman Judy Garland show I wrote for Mary El have kept as happy as pigs in a pod.

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    • Joel Flowers
    • March 1st, 2011

    Dislike of using the phone is something you share with your wife!

  1. I started it. The first time I was sick every other call was a collector, so I got in the habit of letting it ring. I think I need an intervention.

  2. I think you’re my husband’s brother from another mother!

  3. Yes, our name is legion. I wish I could say I was original, but then I look at my sons and see every stupid thing I did repeated in duplicate.

  1. March 2nd, 2011

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