Spring is in the air (though if you live in a major metropolitan area, what isn’t), and, as always, spring ushers in that most stressful time of year.
No, not tax time. There you’re only up against the government. This is much worse, as Michael, a fingernail-less reader from Cambridge, Massachusetts writes, “It used to be that when my wife felt our home was getting cluttered she would simply crouch behind the vacuum cleaner waiting…waiting…waiting, until, on March 21st, she would jump out and yell, ‘Spring cleaning.’
“Then, we would sit down and, like reasonable people, separate our valuable stuff from the junk. Lately my reasonable explanations of why I want to keep things no longer work. Last week she told me I can keep everything I own as long as it fits in the doghouse. With the dog. And my side of the bed. What’s wrong?”
The answer, of course, is nothing’s wrong. This is a perfectly normal side effect of your wife watching home improvement shows on cable television.
Mostly, women watch these shows to learn valuable decorating tips, such as wouldn’t the heaviest piece of furniture in the room look better if your husband moved it around six times? Or any home remodeling project, including gutting the foyer and replacing it with a polo field, only takes half an hour.
Unfortunately, women also get mistaken ideas about home improvement because cable shows are not produced with the high production values of big network televisions shows like Are You Smarter than a Leprechaun?
To make the matter clearer, I took the liberty of recording a typical program on home organization, during which the following exchange took place.
ORGANIZATION EXPERT: And what do we have here?
WIFE: A gold-plated, sterling silver toothpick scrubber.
EXPERT: Excellent. A rare find. Perfect for display on your coffee table. Put this in the keep box. And this?
HUSBAND: It’s a…
EXPERT: Is it yours?
EXPERT and WIFE: Junk. Junk. Junk.
I think we can all agree that even the most reasonable wife could come away with the confused impression that junk is anything owned by a guy.
What can you do? (I am assuming that moving to Stepford is not practical at the moment.) Accept your manly responsibility and explain to your wife the real reason men acquire so many things. It has nothing to do with being lazy, careless or genetically unable to part with a forty-foot long necklace of beer can pop-top tabs. No, it is that we men take seriously one of the manly roles of life.
That’s right. Men do not collect junk. Collecting junk is a childish activity born out of total disregard for other people. Preserving history, on the other hand, shows a concern for the future and may be tax deductible.
When I was a boy, things were made to be passed down from father to son. I know this because my father would explain this to my mother every time she threatened to clean out the hall closet.
I’ll never forget the day my father put me behind the steering wheel of his first car, a 1948 Studebaker. I would have preferred the whole car, but it was long gone and, besides, the steering wheel was all he could fit in the hall closet. No way he could have gotten the car in there. Unless he’d listened to my mother and gotten rid of his father’s old sewing machine.
Nevertheless, I spent hundreds of miles in the family car, that old steering wheel in my lap, mimicking my father’s every move. So, on the day I turned 18 and took my driver’s test the license examiner congratulated me for restoring his faith in religion.
Seems all I learned from watching my father was to hook my left pinky over the steering wheel, turn my head to the right and argue with my mother. But, that’s not the point. The point is I learned two valuable lessons.
The first is that a real man never shirks his responsibility to preserve history. The second is just because a license examiner has his eyes closed it doesn’t mean he isn’t paying attention.
Last week, I again explained my manly destiny to my wife and yes, Michael, there is hope. Finally, she agreed history should be preserved, and suggested I share my preservation program with the whole world.
“Sell that stuff on eBay,” was the way she put it.
I pointed out that our children shouldn’t need eBay accounts to enjoy that old steering wheel the way I did. Whereupon my wife pointed out that, unless I knew something she didn’t, we didn’t have any children.
I’ll be on the computer tomorrow morning. That’s when they’re installing internet in the dog house.
From my book I Don’t Have All the Answers Only Because There are Too Many Questions, available from Amazon.com. Yes, if you buy a copy Amazon does pay me a commission. But it’s not nearly enough to replace my Studebaker steering wheel.
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