Even if that was our half-honeymoon, it is WHOLLY over. Remember how sentimental my last post (Men are from Mars, women are from Venus: together, they try to honeymoon) ended? How easily charmed I was that I found my husband doing *gasp* his own laundry once we got home?
I spoke too soon.
He did, to his credit, complete one full load. I found it seven days later in the dryer. He did attempt a second, which I found, also seven days later, in the washer. Let me back up:
We, duh, went to watch the eclipse on campus. Aerospace engineering students do not miss this rare phenomenon. Although campus ran out of glasses, we were able to sneak behind a laboratory thanks to a friend, and watch the whole thing through welding masks (yes, adjusted correctly). We left with plans for this friend to join us for dinner later, and off I headed to the gym.
I run now. (I’ll pause here to allow you to pick your jaw up off the floor.) I find it centers me or calms me down if I’m anxious from boredom or from living in a republican county. On this particular run, I was centering: dinner would have to be gluten-free. Fine, I have a stash of gluten-free pasta in the pantry just for this friend. Turkey sausages were already thawed, marinara sauce was two-for-one this week at the grocery store – I was set. I even remembered our friend can drink wine, not beer, so we picked up both on the way home from campus. My only other to-do item was my laundry. I hadn’t needed to do a load since we got back from the honeymoon.
I skip off the treadmill feeling calm. Quiet. Centered. Happy to cook dinner for my husband and friend.
I walk in the apartment to find the living room and bedroom empty, which is strange, because my husband’s truck is in the parking lot. (Oh yeah, we own a truck now, not a sports car. Another time.) The door to his office is half open, and I see a pair of cargo shorts on the floor. He’s lying on our brand new guest bed in his underwear, with his headphones on and eyes closed. (The guest bed he fought me on since day one. Obviously I won.)
Anyway, so he’s on the bed. He also doesn’t seem to hear me. His hands are folded over his chest like he’s been laid to rest. A woman’s face on his laptop screen on the desk next to him catches my eye and she’s very lovely to look at. Slavic, maybe. I have to break his trance to ask “WTF” and I’m informed it’s ASMR. Sure!
Oh, you don’t know what that is? Let me explain, because I didn’t either. ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It’s when you’re soothed by the visual of someone caressing your scalp and it sends tingling feelings down your body. So that beautiful face you see on the screen? She’s pretending to touch you. He describes it as relaxing. Yup… that’s one word for it.
He looks annoyed that I broke him out of his trance, and I comment “she’s quite pretty,” channeling my best Emma Thompson impression from Love Actually. “She’s not even one of the pretty ones,” was his response. Ah, I think. That makes this better.
I back out of the room slowly, silently. Close the door behind me. I feel like the mother of a teenager who has accidentally walked in on her son and even though nothing was explicitly happening, it’s still pretty awkward and you want to leave him in privacy. Okay, stay centered, Stay calm.
Laundry! I’ll feel less irritated once I accomplish something. I open the washer to let it fill, but it’s already full of wet clothes. His clothes. Wrangled and wrinkly and soggy. I softly open the door to his office and sweetly ask how long has the wet clothes been sitting there. He reluctantly pulls the headphones down and apparently has no idea. I close the door again, and head back to the laundry room for the dreaded sniff test. I wrack my brain and can’t recall any time he’s stepped foot in the laundry room except for… no… it can’t be. I did not need to get very close to the clothes to know the answer was most definitely seven days. Great. So now I have to re-do his mildew scented laundry. (Did I mention the honeymoon was SO over?) I guess mine will wait until tomorrow.
Upon further inspection, his wet laundry consisted of a dress shirt, cargo shorts, a new ivory towel, and a black t-shirt, among other various smaller articles. Now, I may not be a rocket scientist, but that is one poorly constructed load. To his credit (I’m really playing it fast and loose here with the word credit), I did learn on our honeymoon that this aversion and disinterest in laundry is likely genetic.
And as tired as I feel from just having finished my run, I want to bolt out the front door and do it all again. I am so far from centered.
I open the door, this time with more force, and barge in. Relaxation be damned. “You know you can’t do that, right?” He looks at me, annoyed, and pulls his headphones down around his neck. “Guess quiet time is over,” he mutters, now also irritated. GUESS SO, I shout inside my head. But on the outside, I am smiling. Like Claire Dunphy laughing, but not with her eyes.
Fast forward to an hour later. I’m a goddess in the kitchen, with pots on all burners, chopping a side salad, setting the table. The boys are now outside measuring the truck. (I dunno, I guess it’s what men do when they own a truck.) They come in and pour up wine, and our friend takes a seat in one of our counter-height chairs facing me across the island. Jazz is on in the background. I’m chopping. I’m stirring. I’m sautéeing. Did I mention I’m a goddess? My husband has not lifted a finger to contribute to this meal, but yet feels so moved by the ambience of it all, he whips out a clean dish towel (after asking me where I keep them) and throws it over his shoulder so he can look like Sam Malone. I can’t. make. this. up.
“Take. It. Off.” I don’t want him to even pretend that he’s helping.
Fast forward to the next day. I wake up to a sparkling clean kitchen, because, no shit, I cleaned it myself. Except for the wine glasses.
We have an understanding I said once and he ignored that when he uses wine glasses, he has to clean them. They’re the shape and brand he insists on owning, but they don’t fit in the dishwasher. I see four dirty wine glasses strewn around the place, so I collect them all and line them up next to the sink. Next to the sink. In retrospect, I should have left a little sign propped up against them that said “wash me”.
I finally get to my laundry. He comes home from a pizza party at school. I head out to Wal-Mart for toilet paper. As I’m leaving, he’s heading into the bedroom for a nap. Guess that pizza party took a lot out him. After Wal-Mart, I head to the grocery store and buy a week’s worth. It’s time consuming, because I’m meal planning in my head on the fly, and trying to stick to his diet guidelines. Like a pack mule, I load myself up with every bag out of my Corolla, and slowly make my way up the stairs to our second floor apartment. I’m moving at the speed of one of those 150 year-old tortoises.
I’m winded at the top and can hardly fit me and my reusable bags through the door. Now he’s splayed out on the couch watching Friends reruns. Guess nap time is over. I drag the bags into the kitchen and within minutes, everything is stored way and I have beef sitting in a homemade marinade (thanks to my new friend Anna) in the fridge for two days’ time. The wine glasses are still just sitting there.
After dinner, I gently point out that they really need to be washed. I’m sticking to my guns on this one. I’m not going to clean them. If he thinks he’s gonna wait me out, he’s wrong. “I’ll get to it later,” he assures me.
Fast forward to 11:39 pm and I just made homemade oatmeal as a late night snack. We’re on the couch, still watching reruns, talking about going to bed soon. I look over at the sink and the wine glasses haven’t budged. I less than gently point it out, again. “Those will have to wait to tomorrow. It’s too late now. But I’ll put the rest of the dishes away.” He picks up his bowl, walks past me AND MY EMPTY BOWL and heads toward the dishwasher.
I’m exasperated. I lose my ability to make sound. I’m gesticulating wildly at my bowl.
“Are these clean or dirty?” he asks, standing immediately in front of the dishwasher. I manage to squeak out “I don’t know.” But it’s a bold-faced lie. I ALWAYS know. I always know because I’m pretty much the only person who ever empties it. And I’m also pretty much the last person to ever load it. I usually to have to re-do what’s been stowed inside. Maybe if I had married a civil engineer… “Open it,” is my helpful response. Good God, tell me you can see the difference.
Soon I hear laughter coming out of my mouth but I’m actually frightened. My husband does not see dishes. Or dirt. Or comprehend chores. It’s precious, really (thanks, Michael in TO, for the word choice inspiration). And I don’t want to nag. As gentle as I try to be (it’s not in my nature), he’s driving me insane. I’ll probably get an ulcer this way. And I know it’s not malevolent. I know he wants to help out and, most importantly, he definitely wants to end the nagging.
I plead with him. There must be a way. A better system. So we hashed it out. Wanna know what the PhD and I came up with? Here’s the new system:
I am to send him a daily text message in the morning detailing what chores he must accomplish that day. Yes, you read that correctly. A daily text message. From his wife. To tell him what chores exist in our two-bedroom apartment.
I’m about to send today’s message. There’s no text to compose, it is solely one photo.