(Photo: The desk in my home office as seen in its neatest, most organized state.)
I think it’s pretty hard to have a successful marriage if you don’t have a few things in common. For instance, my wife and I have similar taste in TV, politics and music. Granted, our tastes aren’t exactly the same. I’m sure she thinks she’s heard enough of Jimmy Buffett — wrong! — and I think 30 John Mayer songs a day is more than adequate.
Yet, she has sat through two Buffett concerts, while I’ve seen three John Mayer concerts. Having connected with Mayer through some charity work, I even got us backstage for a private meeting with her favorite musician, a very nice guy who signed an album for my wife and posed for pictures. But has she reciprocated by getting me backstage to meet Buffett or any of the other folks we’ve seen in concert like Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Run-DMC or even Bill Maher? Nooooo.
But another key to a successful marriage — besides such obvious keys as a husband knowing when to keep his mouth shut (always) — is to have enough differences to keep it interesting.
For instance, I’m a male and she’s a female. If that’s not the case in your marriage, I support that 100 percent. But I’ve had to look at myself in a mirror for more than 50 years, so there’s no possible way I could be attracted to a male. In fact, that man in the mirror gets a little — OK a lot less attractive each year. Or day.
We also have food disagreements. I like a lot of meat, while she likes just about everything that grows in the ground. When we go the zoo and she marvels at one of the last four Yellow Asian Sabertooth Leopards on the planet, I just nod while I wonder, “Hmm, barbecue or steak sauce with that?” Meanwhile, I’ve never gone to Callaway Gardens and thought, “Well, this looks tasty.”
But our biggest source of disagreement is over neatness. I’m a messy guy. It’s one of the things I have in common with such geniuses as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Mark Twain — if only I had their hair. They were slobs. In fact, scientific studies have shown that slobbery, er, slobitude, um, slobberation, yeah, is a mark of genius or creativity — or in some cases, like mine, both.
As Einstein pondered, “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is an empty desk a sign of?”
My wife, though, believes everything has its place. Sometimes she’ll disappear in the house on the way to do something simple like grabbing a purse, and I know she’s been distracted by an urgent need to completely reorganize a closet. Our house is more sterile than an operating room, and if a leaf lands in the yard, she lobbies the government for natural disaster assistance.
She also makes the bed, which is against my religion. Is there a bed inspector coming? I’m going to get right back in it tonight!
Sometimes, I’ll help in that pointless bed-making mission just to keep the peace. It doesn’t work so well, though, because I usually get fussed at with a “You know the brown pillows go first, then the white ones, then the …”
To be honest, after more than eight years, I have no idea how the pillows go on the bed. I only know that if a plane ever crashes through the bedroom ceiling, it will come to a safe, soft landing if it hits our pillows.
Last night, my wife asked me, “Why are your house shoes under my coffee table?!”
I responded with what I thought was a fair question: “Why is your coffee table over my house shoes? Hmm.”
If you do that, though, you just might find yourself sleeping in the guest bedroom. And that’s a risk I can’t take because if I don’t know how the pillows go on our bed, there’s no way I’m going to be able to correctly assemble the 37 pillows on the guest bed.