Thursday, May 21, 2009

Take this job and shovel it

I gave my wife a shovel for Mothers’ Day.
Wait. Before all you moms gather outside my door in an angry mob, let
me explain. The shovel had an attachment:
When our boys were younger, I used to be heavily involved in the
procurement and delivery of appropriate Mom’s Day greetings. But
they’re older now. They are mature, responsible men, who are fully
capable of buying and sending the proper card and/or gift to their
mom. And besides, they both have wives who really do remember to do
the right thing at the right time, so I’m pretty much off the hook.
But back to the shovel.
While I’m always (too) quick to note that she’s not my mother, I have
to agree that my valiant spouse deserves as much recognition as
possible on that special day. From me, even, as she surely was stuck
with the task of helping me slowly grow up along with the kids. So, I
made a special holiday offer. I would provide my services on Mothers’
Day afternoon for a round of what we call “point gardening.” It goes
kind of like this:
She points at a bare spot; I dig a hole and plant a plant in the
designated spot. Repeat as needed.
She knows where the plants should go.
I know enough to know I don’t know where they should go.
But I can handle a shovel.
All in all, it is the perfect symbiotic relationship and goes a long
way towards defining the wonderful give-and-take (point-and-dig?)
process that’s made our almost 37 years of marriage seem to zip by
like an extended prom date.
I was reminded that there are additional gender differentials existing
in marriages other than my own Monday night, when I had the pleasure
of presenting a program to a group consisting of all ladies. There
was a dinner before the presentation, and I was invited to join the
group for the meal. I thought I was holding my own,
conversation-wise, when, suddenly, the topic took a dangerous turn:
Husbands and grocery shopping.
I can’t quote the comments exactly, but the crux of the discussion was
this: While it might be nice if husbands helped with the shopping once
in awhile, the truth of the matter is that they’re generally more
trouble than they’re worth. Suddenly, I found myself reduced from my
self-assumed role of liberated helpmate to the status of a 3-year-old
wailing in the seat of a shopping cart and pointing to a box of
chocolate-coated sugar bombs.
I think it all comes down to a basic, fundamental difference:
Women shop. Men buy.
The shopping process, while often tedious to me, does indicate some
measure of thought. It generally includes something called a “list”
and a certain amount of knowledge as to the items already in
possession. On the other hand, my own thoughtless buying sprees tend
to look more like an episode of “Supermarket Sweep,” where I dash
madly through the aisles in an effort to gather as much stuff in as
short a time as possible. It’s quicker, for sure, but I’m not sure
it’s entirely efficient.
My flexible daytime schedule makes me a frequent grocery shopper for
our household. A quick gander at some of the items residing in our
pantry and other storage areas indicates the results of some of my
efforts. Some examples:
•14 cans of Cream of Mushroom soup (just in case)
•Five boxes of the same brand of cereal (I like it)
•Four opened jars of raspberry jam (ditto)
•14 packets of dry yeast (I like to bake bread, though not often 14
loaves at a time)
•Three cloves of garlic (apparently in preparation for the vampire
attacks threatening Galva)
Some of the cans and boxes I’ve purchased over time seem to be from
the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods, while other, newer items,
feature labels written in Aramaic and Latin.
But the most horrifying discovery was in the freezer compartment of
our second refrigerator, which is used for soda and other items too
large for our main fridge in the kitchen.
An entire, 12-pound frozen turkey.
I’m not sure when I bought it. I’m sure it seemed like a good deal
(and idea) at the time. But now, there it rests, shrouded in a
frosted plastic wrapper. I can’t quite make out the date on the label,
so I’m considering sending a sample out for carbon-14 testing. But,
chances are, it’s years past its prime, leaving me with a dilemma:
What do you do with an outdated 12-pound turkey? If I put it in the
trash, it will present a way-too-temping opportunity for the raccoons
who travel through my back yard on their nightly fact-finding
missions. I suppose I could just leave it there for my heirs, but
they’re going to have enough trouble deciding what to do with my
valuable collection of used, but unbroken, guitar strings and that
bagful of unmatched socks I’m holding onto. Now that I’ve discovered
it, my conscience is demanding I do something about it, so how about
A proper burial, in a far corner of my back yard, would be a righteous
send-off for my frozen, once-feathered friend. I could even erect a
little headstone like the ones we’ve placed for other departed family
pets. So, I’d like to invite you to the funeral, next Tuesday at ten
o’clock, unless it rains.
Please omit flowers, and don’t worry.
I’ve got a shovel.

1 comment:

  1. John...excellent piece! Loved the humor and the reality of differences in male/female psyche. It is so true!