My wife never came right out and said she was distressed by our house and the fact that I live in it. I only became aware of her distress after years of examining various signs and back-trails. It was like tracking a bear that occasionally walks into your kitchen muttering and flashing grumpy looks.

I couldn’t decide which of my manifold foolish actions she was upset about, so I asked her. She answered. I didn’t understand. Perhaps I didn’t speak bear.

You should know that my wife lives and suffers and prevails according to her list. She has the words “Most Organized Person On The Planet” embroidered on her underwear. One day I noticed that she relaxed a bit every time she crossed something off her list, as if she’d just murdered a family enemy. Maybe that was the key.

I volunteered to help her clear her list, which made her grin. She began to send me on missions. “Strangle the dirty dishes.” “Stab the litter box in the eye.” “Shoot the grocery store in the back of the head and dump it in the lake.” I did these things, and she thanked me. Yet she remained disgruntled. I even began rubbing out some targets on my own, but that didn’t solve the problem.

I gave up. I decided I’d have to spend the rest of my life buying lots of flowers and watching Notting Hill with her an improbable number of times.

Some time ago I began working from home, and then later I began not working, still from home. Every day I was confronted by the items from my wife’s list, or as I now thought of them, “The Enemies of My People.” Whenever I became frustrated or bored I began attacking our enemies. After a while I made it my mission to eradicate them.

That was when my wife smiled. By accident I’d made myself just as accountable for slaying our enemies as she was.

My wife still performs her share of assassinations. We could never deny her the pleasure of the kill. But now she has an ally instead of a flunky. I had never understood why it wasn’t enough for me to just help out. As long as we shared the work and it got done, who cared? Well, somebody has to take responsibility for seeing that things get properly killed around here, and my wife doesn’t want to be stuck with the job by herself.

I know this is confusing, because it confused the heck out of me. Let me translate it into a form more understandable than bear language:

Say you and I go in 50/50 on an Chevy 429 V8 engine so we can rebuild it. We plan to put it on blocks and start it up once a day to hear how badass it sounds. As we work, every time I’m done with a tool I just leave it laying on the garage floor. Soon you’re tripping over wrenches and pullers. You justifiably chew my ass out, but after that I only pick up a tool when you specifically tell me to. You yell at me some more, and I finally begin picking up a tool on my own once in a while. But mainly you still have to tell me.

What am I?

I’m a lazy pain in the ass, that’s what I am. And I will be until I take some responsibility for the damn tools getting picked up. It’s not about how many tools I pick up. My job isn’t to pick up tools. My job is to make sure tools aren’t laying around on the floor, and that’s your job too. Then nobody has to get their ass chewed.

So, I stumbled onto that whole realization entirely by accident. It makes me happy, because I now have a happier wife, and because I expect to be watching Kelly’s Heroes on many future occasions instead of watching Notting Hill.


“Bear Square” by I Seek To Help & Repair!
It is a derivative of the file file:Male kodiak bear face.JPG.
Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –

Last week a friend mocked me for washing a bowl before I put it in my dishwasher. She did it in a gentle way, and as I scrubbed out the dried tomato soup I admitted that I didn’t trust the dishwasher. Trust can be fragile in my world, and I can’t place full trust in a machine built by a guy who’s yearning for his break while daydreaming about his girlfriend in black stockings. Maybe I’m weird. Yet this was my friend who was asking me, so I didn’t mind sharing my mistrust with her.

A few minutes later, alone as I scoured a pot, I reflected on the romance of the mundane. Washing dishes seems about as mundane as you can get. At least it seems that way to me. But I was washing each dish as people brought them in from the den, so that my wife could visit with her friends and not have to face a Vesuvius of plates and flatware when everybody went home. It sure wasn’t dinner and dancing. It lacked passion, and nobody was getting groped in a promising way. Yet this mundane thing we shared had its own kind of romance.

Yin Yang by Nicolas Thompkins (From Chair Blog -

I guess this is kind of Taoist. Maybe Zen or something. I wondered if anyone else had thought about this, and I found this neat article. It even used the same words had I thought of—Romance of the Mundane. It’s all about the simple, daily tasks and events that make a shared life, and how that constitutes real romance.

I admit that I’d make a crummy Taoist. I looked into it when I was young, and while it was cool I realized it was not for me. I could give some meaningful-sounding reasons, but basically I like stuff too much, and I enjoy it too much when things get exciting. Plus, if you’ve ever heard a Taoist joke then you’d know that Taoism require a consciousness expanded beyond my capability to achieve.

A Taoist joke, courtesy of the Hog-Tao:

Accept misfortune as the human condition.
What do you mean, “accept misfortune as the human condition?”
Misfortune comes from having a body.
No body, no misfortune.
Which reminds us of a song.
Sometimes we amuse ourself at the Hog Tao.
But nobody knows.
Except Louis.
Sing it Satchmo.

Therefore, while I’m not a Taoist, I’m also not alone in my suspicion that romance of the mundane does exist, and that it’s about sharing a life. Although it’s still nice to get laid once in a while, nothing says romance like shopping for decent produce and mint chocolate chunk ice cream. Nothing says devotion like putting your lover’s clean underwear away in the proper spot in the correct drawer. Nothing says love like working together to change the sheets because the cat barfed on them.