Thursday, October 12, 2006

Self-Punishment, in all its forms

I can’t decide which is worse. Punishing myself with chores, or punishing myself by refusing to do them.

I occasionally suffer from fits of ‘how come this is my job?’. And I will say that this time, darn it, and I really mean it!, I’m not going to {cook dinner, put away the laundry, clean the toilet, pick up the dirty socks}.

I’m going to get someone else in the Den to do it, for once.

…I will give you a moment to recover from your hysterical laughter…

The problem here is obvious. I can stand there nagging until the sun goes super-nova, and I truly believe that nobody in this house would so much as pick up a single candy wrapper off the floor.

Worse, I can’t decide which makes me more upset: having to do all the danged chores, or nagging myself hoarse trying (with limited success) to get someone else to do them.

And worse still, I know I can’t just live with the result of the chores not getting done. I really am the one who suffers the most when things are in A State around here. I’m the one who feels physically ill when confronted by a paper-strewn hallway, or is unable to string two thoughts together when the kitchen counter is under two layers of dishes, or who finds herself tossing and turning all night because she can sense the piles of laundry mocking her from downstairs.

I’m the one who suffers from deep and burning :::SHAME::: should anyone come over and see piles of dirty dishes in my sink, or an unclean bathroom, or a layer of paper six inches thick across every flat surface in the house.

My husband doesn’t have any of these issues. He can blithely step over a pair of jeans left on the bathroom floor for at least six days. Possibly more. I don’t know, because six days was as long as I could go before I physically blocked his path and demanded to know if he ever intended to pick up his @*^&@ing jeans.

At which point, he turned, looked at the jeans as if he had never in his life beheld them before!, said, “Oh, uh-huh…”, and attempted to flick them into the hamper without using his hands.



He can have his very own mother over for a visit and not be a bit embarrassed if, say, he doesn’t feed his children anything but fish sticks for three days. He could have the heads of every state in the world over for a meeting and not feel a bit disturbed that he had to shove a stack of magazines to one side to make just barely enough room for a teapot for the Viceroy of Unga-Dunga-Dim.

Whereas I would be forced to go jump off a bridge from the shame of it all.

You see the subtle difference between us?

It isn’t that he isn’t willing to do it. He’ll do it, sure, he’ll do it! He’s always very charming, always agreeable, always ready to help you out any way he can!

After, of course, you’ve asked him to do it. Twice. And reminded him a few times. And asked if he was planning to that soon. And threatened to call a handyman to do it. (“You’re going to call Ralph the Handyguy, to take out the kitchen trash?!”). And sent him a few emails at work. And a singing telegram. And stapled a neon Post-It to his forearm.

It’s at this point that I often leave ‘reminding’ and enter ‘nagging’. And nagging is swiftly followed by outright whining. And whining leads to anger, resentment, and feeling invisible, inaudible, ignored, and unloved.

Eventually I have to decide: which is going to be worse for me, wallowing in my anger and resentment, or just @*^&@ing taking care of the problem myself?

Now. I told you all that, so I can tell you this.

I have been asking, reminding, nagging, pleading, and otherwise kvetching about the upstairs bathroom sink for a long, long time. I think the, uh, you know, that…thing?...under the sink?...I think it’s got a clog or something. It burbles in the night. Liquid Plumber does nothing.

Unfortunately, my husband is trying to put together a British Isles session night here in town for Irish at a local coffeeshop or something and is alas unable to do anything other than work, and try to put together sheet music for the musicians he’s hoping to attract. If he’s not doing the one, he’s doing the other. Or he’s working out the puzzles in Goldrush.

Which means that I have to decide whether or not I should continue to be furious with him for abandoning me on this, or just handle it.

My utter ineptitude when it comes to Things Plumbing is well-documented. I may be putting the entire clean water supply of the San Joaquin valley in jeopardy by attempting to do something about that burble. Seriously. Toilets have been known to spontaneously back up in my presence. Faucets have erupted wildly because I thought about twiddling with them. Gaskets openly mock me.

So the idea of me getting under that sink with a wrench and attempting to figure out what is caught up where under there…well. It might be considered an act of domestic terrorism. Or astonishing stupidity.

But I am just self-absorbed enough to need closure on it, one way or another.


If you were planning a visit to the San Joaquin valley any time soon?

Uh…don’t drink the water.


RM Kahn said...

There is a paper bag in our bedroom full of crap from "His" office... it has sat in the corner for at least 6 months. It has a host of cobwebs residing in it. Each month I pull it out, set it on his side of the bed and ask for it to be disposed of.... can you guess if it is still there?

Very Herodotus said...

I've been through the same thing with my husband. Seriously. The only time he'll clean anything is if I invite a bunch of people over and then beg him to help me clean. But then, I get to clean up after everyone leaves. It sucks, and it's totally unfair!!!

Wendy said...

I think if you tried to fix the sink yourself he might realize that you've been asking him to do it for a long time ...

Sometimes it works with my husband...

Anonymous said...

There was nothing i could do to get my husband to do something for me. Not asking or pleading or bribery or cookies or nagging or nice reminders or notes or NOTHING. Once I threw a muffin at him because of this. He knocked the table over. The kids screamed. I barred the door. Bad news. So I just settled for not getting what I want.

But somehow, now, just a few years later, if I ask just right - "could you do this for me NOW?" or, "I need this thing; can you do it tomorrow?" and it is small and not complex, I sometimes get what I want.

I used to be able to ask my Dad and have results (a new kitchen cabinet built, or a new coffee table carpentered) in a week or two, but he is not so well, and foolishly (he is not that UNwell, either) gave away all his tools.

Some things HAVE to be done - replace the front porch - and how could I call a carpenter to build a porch for a carpenter??? But I have been gently reminding for about 5 years now. Maybe when I fall through and break a leg. Maybe not.

Still and all, he is a good man, and I wouldn't trade him for any other.