She’s got the dog’s vote; butthe mice are on my side
I told my wife I felt obliged to warn her that our household was in serious danger from a pile of unwashed laundry in my closet.My wife replied that this was a heck of a time for me to be reporting the laundry situation. For one thing, she noted, some of that dirty laundry had been there for several years.That, I pointed out, just made the situation more desperate. “The laundry is evil,” I said. “The laundry is patient.”Some of the laundry,” I added, “is underwear.”My wife – a strong woman – was speechless. Figuring I had the advantage, I continued, “The underwear in that hamper represents a clear and present danger, a gathering threat to our way of life. Can we really continue to ignore this dirty underwear? Or do we need to take action now?””But … but … you said the dirty underwear was at the heart of your rodent protection system!”She had a point there. Several years ago, when my wife had first spotted a mouse scurrying through the pantry, I had insisted it was just one little mouse and it wasn’t really a problem. When we discovered a half dozen mice apparently having a cocktail party in the middle of the living room – nibbling on brie and crackers and drinking from the dog’s water dish – I argued that they were just following their cultural traditions.When we came home late one night and found the cat tied up in dental floss, watching helplessly as the mice carried off a bag of kibble, I acknowledged that there might be a problem.But it wasn’t until the night when a mouse dived off the second-floor loft into my plate of spaghetti that I finally agreed something had to be done. My dinner was ruined.We argued for a few weeks over whose fault it was that our house was filled with rodents. That didn’t seem to help cure the problem.Finally, I spent a weekend … well, all day Saturday … well, an hour, anyway, mouse-proofing the house. It was nasty, hot, dirty work. I hit my thumb with a hammer. And, besides, how do you really mouse-proof a house?That’s when I suggested that nothing drives mice away as well as a substantial mass of unwashed underwear.It had been two years. The mice were as bad as ever. The underwear was worse. So, OK, it was time to admit the truth … but which truth should I admit? There are lots of truths out there and there’s no point in admitting the wrong one.I considered admitting the truth that she was my wife and that, therefore, it was her job to wash the laundry.There were problems with that particular truth.First off, she has never washed my laundry. She washes her laundry. I wash – or don’t wash, as the case may be – mine. I’m pretty certain that arrangement was actually part of our marriage vows. It came right before the stuff about “till death do us part” and right after the agreement that I wouldn’t make fun of her ingrown toenails if she didn’t complain about my back hair. (Our wedding ceremony was a little long – but we were counting on that to keep attendance down at the reception, which would save money on the catering.)The other problem with admitting that she was my wife, so she was supposed to do the laundry, was that she might well hit me.On the other hand, she is, in fact, my wife. That seemed like something I could admit. It seemed like a good place to start, anyway.”You are my wife …” I said, letting my voice trail off, leaving an opening to continue if it seemed safe.It wasn’t safe.”And … ?” she asked in a dangerous tone.”Nothing,” I insisted. “I mean, you’re my wife and I just love you so very, very much.””So wash your underwear,” she replied.”How can you talk about washing underwear when I’m talking about love?” I asked. Very reasonably, I thought.”You picked a hell of a time to talk about love,” she insisted. “In fact, you picked a hell of a time to start warning me about dirty underwear in the first place – right before we all vote on who’ll be head of the household for the next year.”I pointed out that it was very inappropriate for a woman to use words like “hell.”She told me to – and I quote – “shove it.”It’s going to be a tough election. But I’m pretty certain the mice are going to vote for me.If I can just get rid of that dirty laundry.Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused untold amounts of suffering and disruption, and we’ll probably tell those stories for the rest of our lives.