Marriage is a continuous learning experience, but there are a lot of things I still don’t understand and some survival techniques that I’ve learned.
One thing came to mind today while looking for my shoes - pillows. I’m talking about colorful, frilly, decorative pillows. What’s the deal with piles of these pillows at the head of a bed? Sometimes you can’t even find the bed.
I just toss them in the closet. Now I can’t find my shoes, because they’re buried under a huge pile of pillows. But the next time we have company, out come the pillows. All of our friends have massive piles of colorful pillows on their beds too, so it must be some kind of strange obsession that hits only women, because a man would have to be awful light in the loafers to play with pretty pillows.
Then there’s the house cleaning syndrome. I’ve always maintained that dust is nature’s way of protecting the furniture. Try convincing a woman of that profound truth. And cob webs…I know what a spider is and what a spider web is, but what the hell is a cob? No one has ever seen a cob, yet one of my tasks is to look for cob webs. Cobs are obviously elusive little suckers. I hope to find one before I leave the planet.
My wife is omnipresent. She suddenly appears when I’m searching the cupboards for the chocolate she hides for herself. Chocolate is the drug of choice for women. There is a documented case of missionaries taking cocoa away from the native women in a primitive village. The women killed the missionaries. That’s a true story. Seriously. So never get between your wife and chocolate.
Old husbands learn new tricks. No matter how I organize the dishes in the dishwasher, it’s never right. Gayle takes over and re-arranges everything. You have to know scientific stuff, like how water splashes. I learned to put the dishes in upside down and backwards until the job transferred automatically to Gayle.
This trick of incompetence works in many areas. When assigned cleaning, if I don’t do a good job, Gayle steps in and does it right. Eventually, she doesn’t bother to ask me to do the work. When we travel, I lug the suitcases out and stack them behind the car. Gayle is the only one who can pack it right, so I go back in the house, relax, and finish my coffee. The “incompetence” ploy can work in numerous situations.
No matter what I lose, Gayle can find it. “Where’s the ketchup?” I ask while digging through the frig. “What’s the rule?” she responds condescendingly. Her rule is to move something. I move everything, but there is no ketchup - until she finds it. She knows where everything we own is located. To prove she knows where something is, she will get it for me. Asking her where something is hidden saves me valuable time for more important things.
One of the first things married men learn is the “hearing” trick. It’s called “selective hearing.” It’s a proven fact that a woman’s voice hits a certain sound frequency that is difficult for older men to hear. That’s your medical fall-back position, guys. Gayle says that I don’t pay attention to her when she talks. Sometimes I seem to go deaf. So now she leaves notes on the door when it’s time to take out the garbage and little post-it notes on the refrigerator to help me make it through life.
Another trick I use is to act like I’m having trouble getting out of my comfortable leather chair. I blame old football injuries, back problems, or my new knee, for my slow rise when the phone rings. As I peel myself out of the chair, Gayle’s got the phone on the third ring. It works every time. The trick is to move slowly physically, but always maintain your mental agility.
Confusion is a technique that can apply even outside the home. If you find yourself in an embarrassing situation, just act confused. If you pat a woman’s butt in a grocery store, thinking it’s your wife, just act confused and embarrassed. If the woman happens to like it, remember that your wife is in the next isle.
The great Walter E. Williams takes it a step further, while demonstrating great compassion. He said that for her birthday, he buys his wife useful things, always thinking of her safety. He once bought his wife golf shoes, so she wouldn’t slip when washing his car. On another birthday, he bought her a small snow shovel, so she wouldn’t strain her back when shoveling the snow in his driveway. I’ve learned from Williams. I think I’ll buy Gayle a small lady-size chain saw for her birthday this year. Mine broke.
Lethargy, confusion, selective hearing, and incompetence are only a few techniques older men can use to make life easy. When all else fails, you can always go back to being deaf.