Sometimes, I consciously choose to let go of the surreal thoughts streaming live in my brain, born from trying to understand my children, and instead embrace what I see as the random thought patterns emanating from my husband’s mind. While my kids’ shenanigans actually bother me, given the biological connection and potential responsibility on my part for their weirdness, it’s actually entertaining to stop and contemplate where the hell my husband gets his ideas. Sure, we share our DNA with each other, but we don’t share DNA, so technically, I bear no responsibility for his thoughts.
While my children’s illogical conclusions (the dog pees in the yard, so why can’t I?) and mistaken beliefs (deodorant goes on the outside of one’s shirt) may be traced genetically back to me, thereby worrying the crap out of me, my husband’s oddities cannot. Hence, I don’t mind thinking about them.
Recently, I pulled up to our house after a long day of teaching, followed by picking up and dropping off kids at softball practice, only to find the front lawn freshly mowed. Hmmm, I thought, as I rolled up the driveway. I couldn’t imagine my husband would have come home during his prep period just to mow, then race back to school in time to catch the bus with his varsity softball team to their out-of-town game. I checked the garage. I spied the mower, wedged between the ping-pong table and the garage fridge, right where it had sat untouched since the beginning of softball season a month prior.
I walked out to the yard and inspected the precision cut. Nice. Definitely not a rush job. Just then, I heard the mower going in the back yard next door. Aha! It was our neighbor! He mowed our lawn because he’s retired, has nothing but time on his hands, the lawns are both small and most of all, he knows my husband is coaching three softball teams and in way over his head right now. What a guy. Neighbors rule!
Alas, those were my thought patterns.
Back to my husband’s thought patterns.
Returning home at eight o’clock that night, hubby brought it up first.
“Hey, honey, thanks for mowing the lawn,” he said with a thoughtful smile, knowing that I do things for him because I love him and not because I’m a passive-aggressive whack job. I know people who do this and guess what? They’ve got trained husbands who also know it! Husband stalls on a task, wife completes it, husband gets the cold shoulder for awhile, which suits him just fine because if he plays his cards right, it’ll last through the end of the seventh inning.
It’s a story as old as coupling itself. I can clearly imagine a caveman, sitting around, watching ants or whatever they did for fun back then, instead of going out and killing something for that night’s dinner. Along comes the wife, home from birthing her seventh baby in a nearby briar patch when she decides to take matters into her own hands, knowing the lazy slob is at cave, sitting on the rock. She clubs the first woolly mammoth that crosses her path and drags it onto the porch, just to make her husband feel bad about not getting it done.
“I didn’t mow it, honey; Ted did,” I said, smiling back at my exhausted husband and readying myself for his appreciative reply.
I froze, not sure of what to do or say next. I wiped the smile from my face. Then, I made a mental note not to tell my husband that I put a fresh twelve-pack in the fridge in case he wanted to toddle over to Ted’s house with a couple of cold ones.
I turned toward the sink to hide the expression on my face which communicated something along the lines of, “What in heaven’s name is he thinking?” but with more f-words.
There was an awkward silence. I imagine it was equivalent to how a man feels when his wife asks him if she looks fat today. I decided to play it mature and direct by filling the sink with soapy water and getting busy on that pile of two dishes sitting on the counter.
“Oh, um, is that some kind of no-no or…” I asked casually before being cut-off mid sentence.
“Uh, yeah. You don’t mow another guy’s lawn,” he said snottily, as if I had a penis or something.
I was desperate to figure out where my husband was coming from. I imagined a somewhat different scenario, one in which my husband came home from work and found me relaxing on the couch, blouse askew, with an extremely satisfied look on my face and a cigarette dangling from my lips.
“Hi honey. Whatcha doin?”
“Well, Ted was just here, and….”
I mean, I can see how a husband might have a strong reaction to a neighbor reaching far afield of the boundary lines, but the lawn?
I tried it from another angle – anything to try and understand what my husband was thinking. This time, it was the other way around. This time, it was I who came home from work, plopping down my book bag and heading into the bathroom to take my first pee since ten a.m.
“Oh. My. God! Honey, you cleaned the toilet! You are so sweet.”
“I didn’t do that. Carol from across the street asked to use it and then she just knocked it out.”
“Honey, she did you a really nice favor. She asked to use our bathroom because hers wasn’t working.”
“I don’t care. You don’t wipe up another woman’s pubic hairs and pee drips.”
“Now, sweety, c’mon. She’s retired, home all day, kids grown. She knows how hard you work teaching and then have to come home and take care of four kids. She was just doing something nice for you.”
“She’s got her own bathrooms to monitor. You don’t do that. Nope. No way.”
Like I said, I tried to imagine this scenario. I kept getting stuck at my angry reaction to Carol’s obvious outpouring of support for her kind. Carol is my people. She understands me. She gets that sometimes, it’s just easier to shut the bathroom door, pretend it wasn’t there, and pour a glass of wine.
I looked at my husband, his jaw set, hands on hips as he stood looking out the living room window at the manicured lawn.
I decided to let him own it. Those genes were all his.