It started innocently enough. I simply said, “I’m missing a sock,” but in marriage nothing is innocent nor simple.
“What are you accusing me of?” my wife asked.
“Nothing,” I said, a little shocked by her reaction.
“I have no idea where your socks are.”
“Sock,” I said, “I found one, I can’t find the other.”
“Don’t look at me,” she said.
“But you emptied the dryer.”
“Did you check your pile?” she asked.
The pile she spoke of is the mountain of clothes heaped on my dresser. It is not to be confused with the pile of stuff on my desk nor the other piles that inhabit the basement, garage and shed.
You see, I never understood the logic of putting things away. We stuff things into drawers and closets, only to dig them out again. It smacks of make-work to me.
My mother was huge on this. She always pestered me to put things away and I understood why. She needed to parent. It is who she was and I was more than willing to put up with her nagging because I loved her and appreciated how much delight she got from telling me what to do.
We fought over the carpet of clothes in my room. We quibbled over whether dishes needed to be stacked in the cupboards or left dirty in the sink. We clashed about the stuff strewn across the yard.
It was glorious.
I fought the same battles with my wife – but while our children lived at home, I always granted her victories because like my mother, she needed to parent.
But now mom lives in a place where the staff picks up after her and my kids live a hundred miles away. It’s my time now and I have reverted to my native state. My wife grudgingly accepts this.
However, what she refuses to accept is any responsibility for losing my stuff.
“Yes, I checked the pile,” I said, “and the sock is not there.”
“Maybe if you would put your things away…..”
“Don’t start on me,” I warned, “my system works and I am only missing one sock.”
“Really?” she said, “yesterday you wore a woolen work sock with a black dress sock.”
“Okay, so maybe I’m missing two socks.”
“What’s your point?”
“Not a thing.”
“Can you check your drawers to see if maybe one of my socks got in there by mistake?”
She just glared at me.
Like I said, nothing about marriage is innocent nor simple. All I asked was for help finding a sock.
But then it happened…..
It began at the top of the pile. A pair of shorts I hadn’t worn since summer, slipped ever so slightly. They glided across my swim trunks and slid down the length of a silk tie. It is all it took.
Apparently my pile had exceeded its natural angle of repose.
From then on in it was all physics. An avalanche of undies, shorts, jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts and socks cascaded down the side of my dresser and went airborne across the bedroom floor, spilling out into the hall – and there were my socks. Every one of them.
It is in times like these when it is best to not say anything but do you think she could resist saying something?
“I am not going to say a thing,” she said and walked away.
She always has to have the last word.