Marriage, broken down into its most basic elements, is a perpetual scientific experiment in how long two vastly dissimilar creatures can coexist in close quarters without something – or someone – exploding all over the kitchen. As a participant in this continuous connubial consideration, I have devised a hypothesis regarding the marital state: while women seem to be largely unaffected in terms of emotional and intellectual sanity, the man is, as the marriage progresses, conversely afflicted with what can only be termed complete delusion. Case in point – I am married to a wholly illogical man. I don’t recall this extent of senility in him during our period of courtship, and thus it seems only logical that it developed over the past several years of marriage. Perhaps it is the additional coddling of someone cleaning up after him that turned his mind soft. Perhaps it is the mental laxity now that someone else does his bookkeeping. Perhaps it is the magically appearing, routine, home cooked meals that have dulled the alertness that was once part of his innate, masculine hunter’s instincts. Regardless of the cause, he has gone – to put it as lovingly as possible – bonkers.
This character trait becomes most evident while folding laundry. My laundry folding “system” – if it can be called that – involves folding items and placing them in stacks of related items. Thus, hand towels are stacked with hand towels, socks are placed with socks, underwear accompanies underwear, and so on and so forth. One might assume this seemingly straightforward notion would require little explanation and oversight. In cases where my husband “assists,” one would be egregiously wrong. Instead, as the mutual folding of laundered items progresses, I find he has placed dish towels with the bath towels, socks with the washrags, his dress shirts with my sweatpants, and the clean bed sheets upon the floor so that he can trample them on his way to the closet.
“Why are you stacking your socks with the washrags?”
“You don’t like it when I put everything in one pile, and so I’m putting them in multiple piles.”
“But do you understand why we put things in multiple piles, or did you presume it was just to ensure the structural stability of each stack?”
I further attempt to explain to the perplexed creature before me why “one of these things is not like the others” and that “one of these things does not belong” – Sesame Street precepts that were really intended as a primer to mold future spouses and ensure the maintenance of domestic peace and order in a household.
“You’ll note that the dish towels are considerably smaller than the bath towels, and yet you’ve chosen to categorize them together.”
“I’ve dried off with a hand towel about that size before.”
“Let’s move on.”
Happily moving beyond the folding fiasco to the process of putting away, the laundry “system” continues in that socks are placed in the sock drawer, pants are destined for the pants drawer, and so on and so forth. Yet, as I peer into the bathroom vanity cabinet to stow away the hand towels, what do I find on top of the existing stack of hand towels but…a book. Now, if the bathroom doubled as the library or if we were in the business of smuggling black market books under the radar of hand towel-phobic midgets, the placement of a book in the bathroom vanity atop the hand towels may not have fazed me. However, it seemed that, by our current logic, we should be storing the WD-40 in my underwear drawer. Perhaps the male illogic will begin to explain itself with added years of marriage, or perhaps it will merely act as a contagion upon my own sanity, and eventually we will both be digging for fresh socks next to the mayonnaise and fetching our pants from the toolbox. In the meantime, I suppose I’m well prepared if my underwear develops an annoying squeak or if I get a hankering for Hemingway while hunting down a hand towel.