Thursday, April 7, 2016

Open Door Policy

            It’s a commonly held belief that men my age – years beyond the mid-life crisis – have difficulty making changes. This is not the case with me. One of the changes I have recently made, according to Kim, is failing to close the cabinet doors in the kitchen. While I would like to deny that I am doing this, the evidence is overwhelming. So instead of denial, I would like to explore why I do it.

            Our friend Beth noted that her guy, Manny, does exactly the same thing. Beth’s response, unlike Kim’s slightly amused, slightly annoyed puzzlement, was “WTF!” (said without the initials). Beth went on to point out that Manny also fails to push in his dining room chair when he leaves the table. His response, when she alerted him to his shortcoming, was, “There is just so much to think about!”

            Manny’s insight goes a long way to explaining my behavior. I have recently been involved with a number of important projects, among them: coming up with a plan to defeat ISIS, combating global warming, and evaluating Kim’s idea that Donald Trump is doing it on purpose to help his old friend, Hilary Clinton. With all this on my mind, how can I be expected to return to the kitchen and close the cabinet door from which I just removed two glasses, one in each hand? Are you with me here? Similarly, how can I be expected to walk without rumpling the rugs on which I apparently drag my feet? I’m too busy with saving the Monarch butterfly population, repairing America’s bridges, and ending racism without endangering my privileged status.

            Still, I do understand the criticism, especially after bumping my head on a cabinet door or stumbling over the leg of a chair. The question then becomes how best to respond to the criticism. Denial doesn’t work at all – too much undeniable physical evidence. Promising to try to do better only works for a while, given the lack of improvement. How about saying, “Well, you do it, too!” Any of you in a long-term relationship knows how well that works!

            Another strategy, analogous to setting a backfire to block the progress of a major fire, is to do more of these annoying things, obviously on purpose, as a kind of joke. Wear mismatched socks. Don’t zip up your fly. Leave the refrigerator door open. Drive away from the restaurant before your wife gets into the car. This kind of self-mockery is sure to endear yourself with your partner.

            I’ll let you know how it works out.

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