Just Bitching and Moaning

bitching and moaningLiving beings are composed of molecules, which are broken down to atoms and, ultimately electrons, protons, and neutrons. The fact is we are all a bunch of charged and neutral particles floating around in some prescribed order. According to Albert Einstein, matter and energy are regarded as equivalent and related to the speed of light. Since we all consist of energy particles – what on God’s green earth makes women so darn superior? Are their particles traveling faster than the speed of light?

Wives seem to excel in the phenomenon of shopping (or more accurately looking, looking, looking, looking… and buying and returning). Most husbands, charged with driving the New York to Florida round trip once a year, are anxious to reach their destination in the shortest possible time. This is particularly true as we get older and find driving more stressful. However, the generic wife, who rarely worries about her husband’s stress level, plans the trip according to the location of outlet malls, in which the same stores repeat themselves all along route 95. The trip must be arranged for the CFO (Chief Feminine Officer) to buy clothing in her favorite stores. But, she will always change her mind about the size, color, or style when she arrives at the hotel. Thus she returns the item or items to the store of the same chain in the very next mall. She then repeats the routine with the same stores, in the next mall, etc. etc. The old axiom that “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line” doesn’t apply to the feminine logic. It should be rephrased as “The distance between two Liz Claiborne Stores doesn’t matter, as long as we get there before closing time”.

It should be a simple and straight-forward trip – Route 95 all the way. But the husband is not allowed to pursue the obvious. Instead the pre-trip routine finds a happy wife with lists and lists of outlet malls and maps spread out all over the living room carpet. Despite the stereotype that women do not have a good sense of direction, wives, with a passion for shopping, seem to have an inborn GPS aimed at their select stores. The husband tiptoes through the map-covered carpet, notices the large number of encircled sites, and immediately goes into a panic attack, gulping Xanax by the handful. While gasping for breath, he calculates that Florida would be reached just in time to begin the return trip to New York. In addition, he realizes that the “stuff” waiting to be put into the car occupies a volume larger than that of the available car space. He is too panicked to realize that the wife was using a negotiating ploy by overstating the number of stores she planned to visit. She subsequently reduces the number of targets, allowing the poor sap to breathe a sigh of relief. He feels like he has won a battle. She eliminates malls in Cheyenne, Kansas City, and Nashville (which she has no intention of visiting). This saves an extra 3000 miles from the trip which is only 1000 miles to begin with.

And what about the actual shopping adventures? It appears that hubby is on an invisible leash. He obediently carries her packages and wonders how to fit them into the car. She turns right and he swings right. She stops and he stops. In the stores, he sits in the “husband bleachers’ commiserating with all the fellow sufferers, who have the same, harried expression on their faces.

Unfortunately, it is not necessary to travel to feed the shopping addiction of our generic wife. Most husbands are not fully aware of the ubiquitous TV shopping networks until the packages start flowing into their homes. If he watched the programs, he might have been able to learn the directions for returning shipments. Then he could return them from the back door, while she has them delivered to the front door. Of course, this would take an act of uncharacteristically raw courage.

If shopping was #1 in the wife’s itinerary, her tendency to dominate shines at its mystical best in the home. Superman, with his super vision, would have trouble spotting the invisible mud being tracked on the carpet. Of course the husband is blamed for this dastardly act. The lady couldn’t have done it because, as we all know, her feet never touch the ground. She also uses a seeing-eye sponge that magically finds non-existent crumbs left over from hubby’s midnight snack. Even if the husband devoured his snack immersed in a bathtub, the lady of the house would find crumbs on the table. It’s one of the many mysteries in marital relationships.

Then there are the invisible house rules posted on the invisible bulletin board. One is that the husband is ordained by God to squeegee the glass stall shower enclosure after showering. Otherwise, the drops of water will condense and cloud up the enclosure. Clouded shower glass must be in violation of some Federal law, because the wife gets very excited about the issue. Another household ordinance demands that the husband always take out the garbage. Besides handling the dripping bags, it has the advantage of being the only way the husband learns about which of his personal things she throws out to make more room for her things. Finally, as punishment for all of his past, present, and future sins, the husband is forced to watch a television set locked into the Lifetime Cable Network. Forget the World Series, the Super Bowl, and the NBA Finals. It’s three hours of dysfunctional love, wicked twins, and missing children. And all of the movies seem to have the same casts. How much of Melissa Gilbert and Meredith Baxter Birney can one man stand?

Then there are the rhetorical challenges imposed by these superwomen on their long-suffering husbands. They either can’t be answered or would start World War III should hubby dare to try. Comments like, “That shirt doesn’t match your pants; your friends are obnoxious – mine are classy; I can’t stand your family; you always hog the blankets; your snoring keeps me awake, etc. etc., are indefensible. There are also the trick questions designed to start an argument like “Do I look fat in this dress”? or “Do you like my haircut”? or “Did you enjoy my dinner of left-over hog fat”? It seems that complaints from the wife become inscribed in The Book of Life forever, while there is no venue in this time warp for husbands to voice their concerns. Timidly asked male questions like “Why is the air conditioning set so high that I have to sleep in my overcoat” or “Why do you spend more money than we earn”? of “Why must your mother say with us for seven weeks”? can’t seem to find a place on the docket.

But we men do have one saving grace. The Lord hath given us complete dominion over the toilet. We are secretly thrilled when the wife shrieks after sitting down on the cold porcelain. Without a stewardess announcement, we ignore the rule that we must restore the toilet seat to its original “down” position after completing our mission. Also convention dictates that women must tend to their needs and get out immediately. We men can read “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” in one sitting and no harm will befall us.

Before I lose my bathroom privileges altogether, I must state that none of the above is autobiographical. I have to admit that, when I signed the Ketubah (Hebrew marriage contract), I didn’t understand a word of it. Apparently some Rabbi scribe inserted some clauses designed to condemn the husband to eternal damnation. It specifies, in clear terms, that the wife’s character is unassailable and the husband is irrevocably committed to a lifetime of trying and failing to meet her unreachable standards.

Oh yes, there is also the need for daily apologies. So I apologize for everything I said.




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