Refrigerator Instructions For My Husband.
Readers who meet my husband are relieved (and a bit disappointed) to see that he's not a moron. "He's not a total moron," they'll say. This, right before going into their own long and detailed explanation of how their husband, like mine, has a Phd in Genius, but can't remember to pick up his children from school. Or, the fact that he actually has children. Or, that they go to school.
"Give him a chance," I respond in reference to my husband, knowing full well that he is always one errand or chore away from me calling his mother to ask how many times he was dropped on his head as a child. "It's okay," I'd tell her. "I just want to know. I need to understand how a man can have a business degree from Columbia, but be physically incapable of working a Dust-buster."
Truth be told, my husband is really really smart. He's got two Ivy League degrees, can break down a political or business issue like nobody I've ever known and has an uncanny ability to remember every line from every movie that has ever been made, even if he hasn't seen it. He's the guy you want to go on The Amazing Race with because you'd win and such a savvy negotiator, the dealership who recently sold me a car basically gave it to me just so my husband would stop hounding them. Then, they offered him a job knowing no customer could get past him since they hadn't. To paraphrase my good friend whom I've never met, Sally Field, "He's bright. He's really really bright."
That is, until he gets home.
My husband has a theory that goes something like this: When asked, all men try to do domestic chores as poorly as possible so they'll never be asked to do them again. It's an interesting theory, one that I'd like to adopt myself, but then no one in my house would eat nor would they have anything clean to not eat off of.
I have a theory that goes something like this: If a husband has two Ivy League degrees in the forest, why can't he load the fucking dishwasher so more than one dish can get in there or stock the refrigerator so that I don't need a GPS to find what's inside.
So those are two different theories.
In my time as a professional criticizer, I've noticed one thing: By process of ovarian-default, the woman of the household is the captain of the domestic ship. Groceries, diaper runs, summer camp sign-ups and dance class recital costumes are all under her domain. She doesn't have to do it all herself, she just has to find someone who will. But if she asks her husband to do something like go to the market for a thing of detergent, chances are he'll come home with a big screen TV instead.
There seems to be little differentiation between working and non-working Moms. It doesn't matter how busy you are or how much you earn, if you have (or had) ovaries you're going to Target. This of course makes we wonder what gay men do when it's time to clean the house. If my husband were gay, he wouldn't empty the dishwasher, he'd move.
Lately however, my husband has stepped up his game in all areas. His work has never been busier, but he's making a real effort at home. A great cook, I've had a summer of him-cooked meals. He's doing camp drop-offs and bathtime at night. And just yesterday, he went to the grocery store. Instead of coming home with a big screen TV, he purchased the items that were actually on the list.
But as I watch him empty the bags of food for the week, I'm again forced to question his sanity. How could this brilliant man shove food in the refrigerator like a hoarder at a storage locker? There's a way to organize a refrigerator to get maximum food visibility. Why isn't he throwing that old stuff out? Even dogs who sniff their own asses take on wiff of our fridge and immediately pass out.
It then occurs to me that my husband is doing the best he can. Clearly, I've overestimated his ability to do a shitty job just so he doesn't have to do it again. He's trying and it's my job, as his spouse, to tell him why that's not good enough.