Gender issues and organizational capability.. Best Foot Forward..

New Year, and a fresh start. That was obviously the motto of the Other Half, who failed to read my resolution rebellion, and decided to start 2012 as he meant to go on. With clean shoes.

There may be those of you out there who are as confused as I was about the role of shiny footwear in the overall success of 2012, but to the OH, it seemed crucial. So much so, that at 10am on New Years Day, as I reclined in bed carrying out global anthropological research*, I was suddenly buried under a deluge of books, laptops and bedside lamps that had formerly resided peacefully on my bedside trunk. This was swiftly followed by the opening and closing of the trunk lid, and then repeated with the two other trunks in the bedroom. (Those of you who have moved frequently will understand the multifaceted role that a nice wooden trunk can play – storage, furniture, seating, ladder alternative.. the list is endless). The body language that accompanied this performance can only be described as thunderous, and is usually only seen during last minute tax preparation or receipt of the Wiggy One’s grade card. Bearing in mind that we are in the process of renewing our US visas, I assumed that a vital piece of documentation had gone missing, so in ‘Very Good Wife’ mode, I asked what he was looking for.

Which just reinforces the old adage about the word ‘assume’, because what had triggered the house wide devastation was not a search for the meaning of life, the holy Grail or even last year’s W-2, but merely shoe polish. It’s not often I’m lost for words, but I have to admit that I was completely nonplussed. And then I laughed, which is right up there with assume on the list of things not to do when a partner’s credibility is at stake. There immediately ensued what would be described in a toddler as a tantrum, a teenager as acting out, but the OH describes as  righteous indignation. He needed the shoe polish, he wasn’t going to waste $20 buying more because our shoe polish kit “had brushes and everything'”(obviously there is a worldwide shortage of bristle that has slipped my attention) and moreover, it was always like this – he can “never find anything in this house”.

I did agree with the sentiment, but not so much the person at fault. It has long been observed that the burden of putting away, filing and finding falls with the female members of the household, while the males prefer to build cairns with everything that comes out of their pockets, and are unable to locate any items unless at eye level, and clearly labeled. For instance, butter cannot be found in the fridge unless it is still in the wrapper with the word ‘butter’ facing forward, and paperwork can be easily found in the clearly labeled files, but once liberated, there is huge confusion about which file to put them back in, so they get helpfully slotted between files and left to slip into the black hole underneath.

I wouldn’t mind if I wasn’t told by any number of his work colleagues that he is not only exceedingly competent in the organizational arts, but that he always calm, and nothing ever ruffles his feathers. So quite why I had the human version of a startled pufferfish slamming around the bedroom beggars belief. Suggestions about where he might look just increased the pitch and volume of responses, so I tore myself from my studies to assist with the search.

There are two things I had working in my favor. I have a process for dealing with the cairns that involves putting all the items in a bag and informing the OH of their location and need for attention. His response is to immediately restart cairn construction and to dump the existing bag in the far recesses of the closet. When we moved from Los Angeles, the contents of that closet were put in a box for his perusal, where it has remained undisturbed for the last 18 months, despite my timely reminders. And as the shoe brushes were last used at least that long ago and hadn’t been seen since, I had a pretty good idea that the two might be linked.

My New Year has started afresh on the moral high ground. For there, nestled in the box of assorted junk, was the show polish kit, complete with brushes. Throughout the hullaballoo, I kept calm and smiling, and it made victory all the sweeter. I like to think there was Divine Intervention, that someone, somewhere was rewarding me for 18 years of singlehandedly trying to keep chaos at bay, and emphatically proving that at home, the OH has the organizational skills of a goldfish.

It’s going to be a good 2012..

*watching YouTube.

3 thoughts on “Gender issues and organizational capability.. Best Foot Forward..”

  1. Yay! I can only imagine how much worse an alternative you showed him to gain his approval for this one. Reassure him that this is a universal trait of husbands. We are all nodding our heads, and laughing hysterically.

    You made a couple of rookie mistakes. Don’t worry. I did the same, long ago. It took years to rectify the situation. First, you asked him what he was looking for. Sad, really. Then, you found it for him. Tsk. That sets you up for a lifetime of being the “finder”. You have to learn to say you “don’t know either”, just the way my husband answers when I ask him about a rule in football. Twenty dollars wasted on a new shoe polish kit would have been a worthwhile investment in the proper care and training of housemates.

    1. Agree I don’t even think I can show it to Ian as he might not want to have anything to do with you anymore.

      Sandy – you are very wise indeed! I just can’t keep my mouth shut!!

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