by Brian Roberts
illustration by Alexandra Young
Whenever I walk around my parents home on Long Island, I’m constantly reminded of my mother’s anger; unhappiness abounds in the form of “projects” around the house that were never fully completed: a silverware drawer that falls out at you when you open it; a screen door that has a broken latch; a bathroom window that uses a metal rod for a handle; or the crème de la crème of all “projects,” the ceiling fan that has not yet made its way to the, uh, ceiling. I sometimes think my father leaves these things broken out of spite, so sick of the nagging that he must therefore plant his own bombs of contention. Now you might think I grew up on the set of Sanford & Son, and that my last name is Foxx, but that’s not the case. Aside from the ceiling fan, these small nuances are not apparent to the naked eye – it’s only when you go to use one of the above that you have a problem. I have seen this as commonplace in relationships, and writing for a women’s magazine, I can tell you firsthand that men are lazy, inconsiderate, and 90% of the time, think just about themselves. Women let this happen in relationships, but that is another story all together. I’m here to talk about getting things done right away. It’s a constant weight that women put on men’s shoulders and although sometimes it is warranted, a lot of times it is not. And women need to back off just a tad.
Okay, I get it. Women want things done right… right now… this second… yesterday… last week. But just because I get it doesn’t mean I have to agree with it. I talk to you now as a recently married man. There are things that take place between a husband and wife, let alone man and woman, that I think are unfair and highly irrational. Never living with my wife before marriage, I am in what you call “the adjustment period,” the stage of a marriage or relationship where you are getting to know the daily habits of your spouse or partner. And I can tell you firsthand that a number of things I do are not done fast enough. I sometimes find myself scratching my head at my very own slowness.
Now it may sound like I am picking on women, and I’m not. Without women, men would be lost, sitting, waiting, and wishing for things to happen. It’s just that men do things a lot slower and really do not have a timeframe. Exhibit A: Bringing Shirts to the Dry Cleaners. I have 25 shirts. Maybe a little more than the average NYC guy, but 25 nonetheless. If I have four of them in the hamper, why should I bring them right away? Wouldn’t it be logical to wait another week and bring, say, 12 of them at one time? I don’t need to be told five times to bring shirts I will not be wearing for another two weeks. Exhibit B: Putting Your Clothes Away. This one is very interesting. Before I go to bed, I lay out my clothes, very neatly, on the dining room chair. Now, considering I am the first one up and those clothes will disappear onto my body, I do not see the need to put them away and take them out of the closet again when I wake up. The clothes are not hurting anyone by resting on that chair… no one sees them but me! Exhibit C: Washing the Dishes. I have come to realize my lot in life is as a dishwasher when it comes to eating meals within the confines of our studio apartment. I happily take on that role. It’s just that when I do them for 20 minutes and leave a dish and fork in the sink, walk away for a second to, oh, go to the bathroom or do something else you requested, I do not need to be reminded that I forgot to finish the rest of the utensils. I know about them. Give me a second. I’m just putting together the IKEA table you bought and my hands are occupied… at the moment. Exhibit D: Cleaning the Air Conditioning Vent. I know it takes two minutes. But it was at the end of the season, maybe one or two possible AC days left, and it started to get a small smell of mildew. It will be fall in a week… you can’t smell the AC when it is not on anymore. Exhibit E: Taking Out the Garbage. This one is a two-person job because of our apartment situation. A garbage shoot is very easy to walk to and it’s about 30 steps from my front door. It’s just the amount of garbage one can throw out in a day that is perplexing. My wife is very clean, very tidy, and the sight of any garbage in the garbage can is enough to warrant a trip down the hallway. I say, fill it up. There is no need to make five trips in an evening when you know you will make one at the end of the night. It is my estimation that maggots form after three days… not three hours.
A long time ago, I learned from a recently married college buddy a cardinal rule when it comes to marriage; a term a man must remember in order to have a long and successful relationship: Preventative Yelling. This is when a man thinks one step ahead, countering her every move. Sort of like Bobby Fischer. You must strike the Queen before she becomes deadly. The Recycled stuff? Done. A clean area? Did that already. Hanging the mirror in the bathroom? Where have you been? Sometimes I slack off a little and I get caught. And I realize I must get better, more focused. But like my dad, Redd, I’m sometimes not that sly.
*William Henry Davies