“Put that over there,” my wife says.
I have no idea what she is talking about because I am standing in a room full of thats and theres.
We just finished remodeling our kitchen and are deep in the process of stashing away all of the things that we had stacked in the living and dining room during the project.
Among the stacks are a bewildering array of things that could constitute a that and in the kitchen there are multiple surfaces – any one of which could be a there.
But it is my fault. I was daydreaming and had lost the thread of what was that and where was there. Now it is almost impossible to get back on track.
“THAT,” she says, counting on her emphasis to clarify the meaning.
“Where?” I ask.
“THERE,” she says, jabbing at the air with her finger.
Naturally, I pick up the wrong thing and move it to the wrong place.
“Noooo,” she says, in utter exasperation, “that goes there.”
This time I understand.
“Now,” she says, “take that and…”
But then she realizes that rather than struggling to describe what it is she wants, it would be easier to do it herself.
So she does it herself.
“Do I have to do everything myself?” she asks.
I know the question is rhetorical because there is no way I am going to get out of moving all of the kitchen stuff back into the kitchen. I know my fate well, I am the household equivalent of a forklift – albeit one with a daydreaming operator.
Normally, we do not have this problem. Both she and I usually know what’s that and where’s there, because we understand each other.
Like all teams who have a long history of working together, we not only know what must be done but we anticipate each others moves. It is like dancing or baseball.
And like dancing or baseball, the beauty of it is in the subtle ways the team moves in sync.
It is what inspires awe when a flock of birds or a school of fish – all suddenly pirouette in perfect formation without any apparent cue.
But then there is us today…
“Okay,” she says, standing on a step stool to reach the highest shelf of her new display case. “Hand me that glass water pitcher – and be careful with it.”
“This?” I ask.
“No,” she says, “that’s a decanter.”
“Oh,” I say, “you mean that thing over there.”
She smiles, finally, we are back in sync.