The wife and I were reading the morning paper when I casually mentioned that I seemed to be missing a long-sleeved blue shirt. I was caught up in the comics; otherwise I’d probably have noticed that the room temperature dropped about 10 degrees. Several moments of an ominously growing silence caused me to look up into a scowl so ferocious as to cause my cup to rattle and some coffee to slosh onto the newly-washed placemat.
“What?” I said in alarm.
“You don’t mean the shirt that’s wadded up behind the night stand, do you? Because, if you do, I know just the one you mean. Tomorrow it will have been there exactly two full weeks. But then, I’ve hardly noticed it.” Her words came out calm and soothing but the tone made me back out of striking distance.
“It never ceases to amaze me,” she continued, “all the interesting and creative little things you do with your clothes. Incidentally, that shirt you have on right now looks a little dirty and wrinkled. Maybe, and this is merely a suggestion, you should put it in the hamper to get washed. The hamper, by the way, is that large wicker basket at the foot of the bed. You probably didn’t notice it because I just moved it there six years ago.”
No need to hit me with a brick, I can tell when she’s upset, but I’ve learned over the years that when it comes to discussing differences in lifestyles, it doesn’t pay to shy from controversy. I manned up and ran to the upstairs bathroom, slammed the door and hid behind the shower curtain.
She, in turn, womanned up and came right after me. The vinyl curtain was very flimsy. She went on as if uninterrupted, “The idea behind a clothes hamper is that it designates one special spot for all the dirty laundry. That way, company doesn’t have to move it to sit down.”
I said quietly, “Did you know that the Catholic Church teaches that Saint Theresa of Avilon was perfect in every way and in every sense of the word? For instance, they say that when she was canonized, she was whisked bodily into heaven without having to be buried or anything. Can you imagine that? Oh, but of course you can, what was I thinking?”
She stared at her fingertips for a while before shaking her head, “Isn’t it in kindergarten where they teach you to put your blunt scissors and crayons away? Were you sick a lot as a child? Where was your mother? How did you miss such basic personal habits like hanging up your clothes and picking up your socks?”
“Come on,” I said, “I don’t expect you to pick up my socks.”
“I know,” she replied, “the problem is that I do expect YOU to pick up your socks. Perhaps, after all, the fault is mine for thinking you should live up to my minimal expectations.”
“Gosh,” I said, “I don’t really think that the blame is entirely yours, but it hurts my feelings when you say things like that. It’s almost like you’re trying to make me feel like I don’t do anything around here. Remember that time I put all those groceries away? Whew, that was intense.”
“That was two months ago.”
“And here I didn’t think you had noticed.”