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Archive for the ‘Right vs. Wrong’ Category

This is one of those posts where I make you decide who is right and who is wrong. As per usual, it’s a cage match between me and my husband and it’s not really a fair fight at all, considering that a) he has no idea I’m writing about this and b) I am so clearly in the right.

(As always, please recall that whenever I write a post that forces you, Internet, to take sides between me and my husband, I feel morally obligated to reference Temerity Jane, who used to write similar-enough-that-I-feel-morally-torn-type posts [only better and with more hilarity]. [This is purely a moral obligation, not a Temerity-Jane-imposed obligation.] [And in any event, the Temerity Jane blog is no more, a fact that is deeply sad because it contained so much good, funny writing and so many eye-opening posts about normalcy and I miss it.])

Let us power through the sadness we feel at our collective loss by directing some side-eye toward the Wronger. Yes, I’m sticking with that pseudo-word choice.

Okay, so let’s say you get a nice gift from someone. Let’s say it’s a… fancy chip and dip set. It’s from someone you care about but maybe don’t see all that often. You thank them, then you do whatever it is you do with a chip and dip set (put it in a cabinet for months at a time, in my house).

Then! The very people who have given you the chip and dip set let you know the happy news! They are visiting! So you invite them over to your house. What do you do, vis a vis the chip and dip set? (Is it really a set? I’m doubting that usage, now.) (I am also doubting my use of vis a vis but we must ONWARD!)

In my household, one of us would plan dinner around something that the visitors might enjoy, and the dinner may or may not include chips and dip – in fact, probably it would NOT involve chips and dip, because we really reserve chips and dip for larger gatherings: Super Bowl parties, birthday parties, I’m realizing as I type this that we really don’t have large gatherings very often at all. Anyway, no chips, no dip. The dinner would be pleasant and enjoyable and we’d all have a good time. The end.

The other of us would also plan a dinner around something that the visitors might enjoy, but would definitely figure out a way to incorporate the chips and dip element. AND would definitely use the chips and dip set that the visitors had so kindly bestowed upon us. We would all have chips and dip, any of the four of us might remark on how great the chips and dip set is, we’d all have a good time. The end.

The non-chips-and-dip member of our family (and by that, I mean in this scenario only; we are an all-chips, all-dip, all-the-time kind of couple, keeping in mind my previously stated reluctance to serve either chips or dip unless the event includes the word “party” in it somewhere) might show some exasperation for the chips-and-dip serving member.

“It seems kind of condescending,” that person might say. “Like we are purposely getting out the present just for them.”

The chips-and-dip serving member might respond: “Exactly! That’s exactly why we’re doing it! We are showing appreciation to the gift giver by using the gift in their presence!”

This is where the non-chipper member of our family might bring up the pro-dipper member’s propensity for wearing clothing gifts in the presence of the gift giver.

“What’s wrong with that?” the gift-wearer might ask. “It shows that a) I remember that this person gave me a gift and b) I like it enough to wear it!”

“But it appears as though you ONLY wear the gift in front of the gift giver,” says the non-gift-wearer, sensibly. “They might think you don’t actually like it, so you never wear it unless you are around them.”

“Perhaps that is sometimes true!” responds the gift-wearer. “But doesn’t it also show gratitude? It’s not as though every single minute I am in the gift-giver’s presence I wear only things given to me by that person. If I throw in a bracelet or a t-shirt or a pair of socks every now and again, isn’t it only giving that person pleasure, to see their gift in action?”

“It’s weird,” says the non-gift-wearer.

 

Who is RIGHT, Internet? And what do YOU do?

Whether or not you LIKE the gift, whether or not you USE it frequently or once a year…

If your mother-in-law sends you a necklace, do you wear it on occasion when you go out to dinner with her? If your coworker gives you a funky wallet during your Secret Santa exchange, do you sometimes grab it when you go to coffee with her? If your brother sends you a set of towels, do you make sure they are clean and hanging from your towel hook the next time he comes over for dinner?

AND, let’s look at it from the other side! If you gave someone a present, and they used it in your presence, how would that make you feel? Condescended to? Or pleased?

And AND, does this really only matter in specific situations like mine, wherein our family all lives thousands of miles away and we are pretty unsocial in general?

While I await your sage advice, I will go eat some chips. I just need to find something in which to dip them…

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This is one of those posts where I make you decide who is right and who is wrong. The people you are choosing between? Me – the really-not-so-great-at-blogging-lately-blogger you adore – or my husband – a guy you don’t even know.

I am going to try my best to explain each side in as unbiased a way possible, so as to keep your judgments strictly fact-based. But you must take a side. You MUST.

Listen, Internet, I need you to really FOCUS here. Because your vote is SUPER IMPORTANT. After all, we are about to bring a CHILD into the world, and teach that child the Right way to do things. And since one of these responses is so clearly WRONG, the WRONG Spouse needs to be educated before the baby arrives.

THIS IS FOR THE BABY.

(As always, please recall that whenever I write a post that forces you, Internet, to take sides between me and my husband – which I have done, to this point, just a few times, not counting this post which is really not interesting enough to require such a lengthy disclaimer – I feel morally obligated to reference Temerity Jane, who writes similar-enough-that-I-feel-morally-torn-type posts [only better and with more hilarity]. [This is purely a moral obligation, not a Temerity-Jane-imposed obligation.])

Let’s get right to the situation shall we?

First, you need to imagine that you are standing in your kitchen, minding your own business, possibly cursing the very dishes you are washing for the ten BAJILLIONTH time because dishes never END, EVER, while your spouse is upstairs doing – let’s be charitable here – some household chore that is equally necessary and irritating, when you hear a loud crashing noise from the second floor.  (You may have to imagine that you live in a house with a second floor.)

Now, the crashing noise is… distressing in that it’s not a normal Household Sound (me: momentarily glad I don’t live in a house where crashing is NORMAL) (the baby: not yet) and so you run to the bottom of the stairs and you yell up to your spouse.

What is it that you yell?

One of us, in such a situation, would yell, “What happened?”

The other would yell, “Are you okay?”

Now, before we delve into each of these responses, let’s imagine two other scenarios.

Scenario #1 (okay, really #2 if we are counting the Loud Crash as Scenario #1): You and your spouse are standing in the afore-mentioned kitchen and one of you is loading dishes into the dishwasher and the other of you is puttering about the kitchen, getting dinner ready or putting groceries away or some such.  Then one of you – you, your spouse, doesn’t matter I guess; this is YOUR imagination – trips over the dishwasher and cracks a toe or a shin on the corner and yelps in pain.

What do you say?

“Are you okay?”

“What happened?”

Scenario #2 (really, #3):  You and your spouse are settling in for an evening watching Mad Men or Justified or [insert your own wonderful TV show with adorable leading man here], and one of you carries the bowl of popcorn while the other carries the drinks.

Just as you reach the couch, one of you trips, flinging popcorn/[drink of your choice] all over the couch and the floor and everything.

Okay, if your FIRST response isn’t laughter, what is it?

“What happened?”

“Are you okay?”

In my house, one of us almost exclusively responds with “What happened?” and the other responds with “Are you okay?”

“Are you okay?” is the more appropriate response because it defines the other person’s well-being as the asker’s priority.  Things get dropped/broken/spilled; people trip. But what is important here is whether the dropper/breaker/spiller/tripper is all right. Understanding whether the person is okay will also help the asker determine what to do next:, i.e. calling 911 or offering a hug vs. grabbing a towel/vacuum cleaner.

“What happened?” is the more appropriate response because it pinpoints the cause of the crash/trip/pain.  It allows the asker to assess the situation clearly and formulate a clear plan of action for dealing with the situation.  If the cause of the crash was an accidental backing-into-a-stack of books, that’s a whole different beast than if it were caused by a person fainting or falling down the stairs or being pinned under a bookcase. If the trip into the dishwasher was the result of a slippery floor or a failure on the spouse’s part to make it clear that the dishwasher was open and in the way, well, that’s different than if the tripper just misjudged the distance between shin and sharp corner.

“Are you okay?” is NOT an appropriate response because it does nothing to solve the situation or prevent similar situations in the future. Plus, usually, your spouse can SEE, with his/her own two eyes, that you ARE okay, so what’s the point in asking?

“What happened?” is NOT an appropriate response because it implies blame in a situation where the dropper/breaker/spiller/tripper might already feel stupid and embarrassed. Plus, it doesn’t acknowledge any physical pain that may have resulted from the drop/break/spill/trip, which might be more important to the dropper/breaker/spiller/tripper than some knocked-over books or popcorn-covered couch cushions.

It is so very clear to me that one of these responses is WRONG that I am practically shaking with the wrongness.

I have no doubt that you will take my side in this. NO DOUBT. But let’s all try to be fair and reasonable when explaining which is right and which is wrong and why.

GO.

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So this is going to be one of those posts where I tell you about how my husband and I approach a situation differently, and you tell me which of us is right(er). (I would like to note that Temerity Jane writes posts of a similar-but-much-funnier-and-more-enjoyable-to-read nature, and you should read them, but don’t do so whilst eating because you will choke on a grape and be unable to breathe long enough to have visions of your husband arriving home later that night to see his wife dead on the floor wearing grey sweat pants and a faded Pizza My Heart: Capitola t-shirt with a big wine stain on the front of it, not because she was drinking during the day but because she felt the shirt she stained with wine the night before constituted acceptable work wear, and you don’t really want that to be your husband’s last vision of you, right? I mean, wouldn’t you rather be in that dress that hugs all your curves in just the right way and makes your eyes stand out so that he would be immediately struck by your beauty and what a loss the world has just suffered? No? You [and your husband] aren’t that shallow? Okay then. )

Anyway, before I get to The Situation that you need to help me with, I need to back up a little.

Well, a lot. I need to back up to around 1994. Which is when I got my own phone line.

Listen, Internet, there used to be a time, many years ago (um, 1994, in case you weren’t listening before) (and really, I don’t blame you), when I LOVED to talk on the phone. My whole life pretty much revolved around the telephone. I would talk to my girl friends about boys we liked and to my boy friends about girls they liked and even though that’s barely two topics, it was pretty much the center of my universe and it occupied HOURS of my time. I don’t like to think of all the days and possibly MONTHS of my life I used up on rehashing Some Boy’s behavior in Social Studies or What to Wear to the Co-Ed Dance on Friday OMG What If Some Boy Is There?!?!?!

Now, if you are a doctor who is on call a few times a week and your pre-teen daughter is tying up the phone line at all hours of the day and night with super important giggling, you probably find it quite trying to have to deal with nurses and emergency room physicians yelling at you for hiding behind a busy signal when someone is BLEEDING or BURSTING FORTH WITH CHILD and a slightly-hysterical pre-teen daughter who can’t abide spending even an hour engaged in non-phone activity.

(Wow, as we’ve already had about 40 run-on sentences so far in this post, I can’t in good conscience recommend you read any further.)

Anyway, to put a stop to all the doctorly/nursely yelling and pre-teenagery hysteria, my parents got me my very own phone line. And by “very own,” I mean that I shared it with my brother. But he is six years my junior, which meant he was THRILLED about having a “kids’ line” but wasn’t really at an age where he talked on the phone.  Six-year-olds aren’t really known for their deep existential discussions, you know?

(Thinking about this makes me realize that our hypothetical offspring will likely never know the joys of a kids’ line. Or a land line at all, for that matter.)

But this is all to say that there was a time when I was SO PUMPED when the phone rang. I’d hear my phone jingle upstairs in my bedroom and I’d leap out of my dinner chair or off the couch like some sort of Olympic athlete, tossing dinner plates and astonished-and-slightly-irritated cats off my lap to charge up the stairs three at a time and breathlessly hit “talk” before the caller hung up.  (My parents were surprisingly tolerant of this behavior, by the way. Although in hindsight, I suppose this had more to do with me being a loser dork loner quiet child than with them actually understanding my desire to talktalktalktalk on and on until all hours of the night.)

I LOVED talking on the phone. And that love endured for YEARS. Until, I think, I got married. I don’t think being married KILLED my love of phone-talk, mind you. It just sort of happened at the same time. To be sure, there are a few people with whom I still engage in looooong, drawn out conversations. But not many.

You know what? You probably could have skipped all that and still made a reasoned, thoughtful decision about this post. I want to give you all the credit you deserve, Internet. And yet, I typed it, so there it shall stay.

So, as I mentioned, just there, about five sentences ago, I still have a few people in my life who are Long Phone Talkers. Do you have any of these people in your life, Internet? You know, the people who – when you are about to call them – you take a pre-emptive bathroom break, just in case? I can think of four of them. And that’s just in my personal life – my professional life is a whole different ball game. If by “ball game” you understand that I mean “three-hour mandatory and inescapable phone calls wherein I rue the day Diet Coke was invented.”

We are now, finally, about to get to The Situation.

When one of these Long Phone Talkers (henceforth LPTs) calls, my husband and I have wildly different approaches to answering the phone.

You see, sometimes it is just not a convenient time to settle in for a 50-minute discussion. Perhaps you are just making dinner or sitting down to dinner or watching a particularly pounding-heart-inducing episode of Rescue Me. Or perhaps you have spent three hours on the phone already that day and are certain that you have a raging case of ear cancer from enduring such close proximity to your cellphone for so long and just can’t fathom spending another SECOND on the PHONE OMG FTLOG.

So what do you do in that case? Well, one of us deals with this situation in the right way. Or, at least, the rightER way. And the other, if not straight-out WRONG, is at least less right.

One of us feels that it’s important to answer the phone and say, politely, “We are just sitting down to dinner, can I call you back when we’re done?”

The other of us feels that a ringing phone is not a burning house and does not need to be addressed immediately, or at all.

One of us feels that the LPT knows that we’re there, and so it’s a deliberate slap in the face to ignore the call.

The other of us feels that, what the hell do you mean “a slap in the face”? Maybe the phone is in the car or maybe one of us is in the bathroom or SOMETHING. The LPTs are not able to see into our lives, hello, no one is a witch with a third eye or something.

One of us worries, sometimes, that maybe a ringing phone is code for EMERGENCY! SOMEONE IS DYING OR ON FIRE AT THIS VERY INSTANT ANSWER THE PHONE NOW!!!!!!

The other of us sighs, loudly, in a world-weary way, and calmly notes that even if there WERE an emergency, there’s nothing we can do at that moment, considering that none of the LPTs lives in our city or even in our state. And also, if it were a TRUE EMERGENCY, wouldn’t the LPT be better off calling the police or a fireman or an attorney or something?

One of us wonders, loudly and a little bit grouchily, how freaking hard is it really to answer the phone and say a quick, “I’ll call you back”?

The other of us starts listing times when an LPT either didn’t hear or misinterpreted the answer or didn’t care that we were sitting down to dinner at that instant and so one of us was stuck on the phone, trying to get a word in edgewise to end the conversation as the food grew colder and colder or Tommy Gavin’s image grew closer and closer to becoming indelibly burned into our television screen.

Or – even worse – the other continues, one of us didn’t stop at “Oh, we’re just sitting down to dinner,” but instead went on to say something like, “So how was your day?” or “what’s up?” or something indicating that dinner’s imminence is not nearly as important as conversing with the LPT right then and there.

One of us just feels bad, leaving that dearly loved LPT, whose only hope was to hear a friendly voice, to hear nothing but the repetitive ringing of the phone, followed by a tinny “Leave your number and I’ll call you back” voicemail message.

The other of us turns around to disguise a “you are clearly a narcissist” eye roll and points out that the LPT doesn’t always answer HER phone, you know.  And when that happens, YOU don’t collapse on the bed in a forlorn heap of tears.

And back and forth we go, every single time an LPT calls during an inopportune time.

Clearly one of us is righter than the other here, Internet. Yes?

What is proper phone-answering etiquette, when you aren’t able to talk but the phone is ringing anyway, and on the other end is a much-beloved person whose only fault is extending a phone call into a Count-of-Monte-Cristo-length epic conversation?

Please tell me, Internet. In exchange, I promise not to call you at dinner time.

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You need to know a few things before you read this (likely over-long) post:

  1. I did not know what “bloopers” were until I read Swistle’s delightful and drool-inducing post on the topic.
  2. I do not particularly like chocolate, although I do like it sometimes. For instance, my mother sent me a box of chocolates for my birthday and I ate 90% of them, only giving a few to my husband VERY BEGRUDGINGLY.
  3. Whenever I write a post that forces you, Internet, to take sides between me and my husband – which I have done, to this point, exactly once, not counting this post you are in the midst of either reading or clicking away from – I feel morally obligated to reference Temerity Jane, who writes not-really-the-same-at-all-but-similar-enough-that-I-feel-morally-torn-type posts (only better and with more hilarity). (This is purely a moral obligation, not a Temerity-Jane-imposed obligation.)

Anyway.

I endured a situation the other day where my husband and I totally, fully, 100%ly disagreed with each other about a decision. And I believe that one of us is Right, and the other is Wrong, and I want to know where you stand.

I don’t really know WHY I want to know where you stand, other than that I really enjoy hearing your thoughts on things. Particularly on silly things that make no difference to the universe as a whole. Because these silly, meaningless things occupy a whole lot of my mind-time and brain-space.

Because no matter what you feel about this matter, and no matter how CONVINCINGLY you argue your position, it will not change things. Perhaps, if you agree with me, I will feel the sense of vindication and absolution that only comes from having hordes of faceless readers agree with you. Perhaps, if you agree with my husband, I will look at him and his decision-making skills in a different light. (Note: Unlikely) But you will not affect the actual choice, which has been made and stuck by although one of us is possibly still WHINING about the decision.

Anyway, as before, I am going to try to present both sides as fairly and unbiasedly as possible, which is a real challenge in this situation as you are about to see.

And once you, the jury, have gathered all the evidence from both sides (although I suppose it is a LITTLE one-sided, considering that my husband is a. not helping me write this post and b. likely does not care what you think) (he’s not a jerk, he just doesn’t know you and respect you like I do), I would like to hear your thoughts on who was Right and who was Wrong and whether there are any mitigating circumstances to consider yada yada blah.

Here is the situation:

 

My husband and I went to a local chocolate store to buy a housewarming gift for someone. (It was a box of chocolate covered pretzels, if you care.) (Dark chocolate.)

(Chocolates pictured not pretzels. Or in any way related to this post. I just thought all the words could use some sprucing.)

While there, I selected a smallish bag of Sour Patch Kids ($1.40). And then we wandered around the store so that my husband could choose a treat for himself.

The store was wonderfully Eastered out. There were bunnies and chicks and flowers and eggs and all sorts of Easter-y confections.

I mean, you should have seen the array of eggs. Caramel dipped in chocolate. Marshmallow dipped in chocolate. Caramel and marshmallow melded together into some magical concoction that defies naming (except by the store marketers, who named it, appropriately if not very inventively, Caramallow) dipped in chocolate. Plain milk chocolate. Plain dark chocolate. Both kinds of chocolate with nuts. Chocolate eggs filled with all sorts of things, from raspberry cream to chocolate fudge to coconut.

(They also had a section of chocolate crosses. Which… seems to cross [accidental pun] some sort of line, no? I mean, I’m not a very religious type of person. But I am not sure that what I can recall from Sunday School lessons and church sermons meshes well with an edible cross.)

Anyway, as we made our way around the store, we came across a little table near the back that held rows of white paper bags. Each bag was filled with a wide assortment of chocolates – the kind you find inside a variety pack of See’s or Russell Stover. There was a little window on each bag so you could see the chocolates inside, tumbling around together in a little sugary orgy.

They were called something like Sweet Slipups and immediately I recalled Swistle’s post on the bloopers and knew that’s exactly what they were and shared this information with my husband.

(Turns out there was a large notice on one side of the table that spelled out exactly what the slipups were… but I had my epiphany before I’d read it.)

Anyway, the sign said that each bag was $9.95.

BUT…

You could get three bags for $9.99.

One of us was PRO buying three bags of slipups for $9.99.

The other one of us was AGAINST buying three bags of slipups for $9.99.

The one of us who really wanted to buy the slipups felt like it was a fantastic deal. For one thing, each bag contained 16 ounces of chocolates. That’s an entire pound of chocolate for, essentially, $3.33.

That is… unheard of. Especially for high-quality chocolate produced by this local chocolate legend.

It is also a deal that is unlikely to be seen EVER AGAIN, especially considering that we have been to this store approximately eleventy billion times and this is the first time we’ve seen them.

The one of us who was opposed to buying the slipups pointed out that we did not go into the chocolate store intending to buy nearly $10 worth of chocolate for ourselves, so why would we do so now?

Plus, three pounds of chocolate – even at such a low price – is a LOT of chocolate. Who can eat that amount of chocolate? Who SHOULD eat that amount of chocolate?

[Again, chocolates pictured not affiliated in any way with this post.]

And aren’t we both trying to eat really well to counteract all the high-fat, high-calorie deliciousness we’ve been eating on our travels to seven gabillion Interview Locations?

The person who really wanted the chocolate pointed out that we could give away at least some of the chocolate.

The person who did not want the chocolate pointed out that we could not think of anyone to give the chocolate to. (And we agreed that giving it as a housewarming gift instead of the previously-selected pretzels seemed like cheating, somehow.)

The person who really wanted the chocolate pointed out that chocolate does not go bad all that quickly, and just think of all the money we’d save on desserty stuff in the future?

The person who did not want the chocolate acknowledged that having a lot of chocolates on hand for possibly months seemed like a not-horrible idea… But then noted that there was no way to tell which chocolates were in the bags. What if all three bags were full of [other person’s least favorite chocolate ever]?

The person who really wanted the chocolate had eyes only for the deal and brushed off the idea that the contents of the bags could be anything but delicious. And in any case, we would have such riches of chocolates, we could simply throw away any bad seeds and still have plenty to choose from!

The person who did not want the chocolate said, firmly, “We do NOT need three pounds of chocolate.”

The person who really wanted the chocolate wheedled, “But it’s SUCH a great deal!”

We left the store with:

1)      One box of dark chocolate-covered pretzels

2)      One small bag of sour patch kids

3)      One chocolate egg filled with dark chocolate fudge

So, Internet, what do you think?

Is $9.99 for THREE POUNDS of chocolate not the absolute best deal in the whole universe?

Or is it TOTALLY and COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS to buy that much chocolate, on a whim no less, and be out nearly $10 we didn’t intend to spend and up probably 20 pounds by the magic of chocolate-consumption math?

And if you think that chocolate is stupid, what kind of deal would make you cave like a sad, pathetic, deal-caver?

And no matter what you think, what is your favorite kind of from-an-assortment chocolate?

I think my favorites are the caramels. Although I do like a good raspberry cream.

The ones with nuts or coconut – blech. I cannot deal with those. (Unless the nut is a solitary almond.)

And I hate raisins. (Do people even put raisins in chocolate? If they do, they should stop.)

There is no logical end to this post.

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Firstly, thank you very much for the kind birthday wishes! That I sort of forced you to leave me! Which made me feel kind of birthday-wish-fishy all weekend and definitely all day Monday and yet I had too much work to be able to do anything about it!

Secondly, I had a lovely birthday weekend that involved steak, cheesecake, a massage, and my husband saying, “it’s your birthday, we can do whatever you want” about three thousand times.

Thrice-ive, I have STORIES about the massage experience and our hotels! Two of the three hotels we stayed at in the course of four days! But I feel a little weird about writing about them because they are complainy. And first-world-problem-y. And some people don’t even GET a massage or a hotel. So I should be thankful. (And I am thankful – truly.) But oh how I want to tell you!

So in the meantime, I have some questions. About questions.

My husband and I occasionally ask one another to do stuff. That was part of our vows, in fact: “I do heretofore pledge to do stuff for my new spouse from now until eternity the end.”

Or something. I really just wanted an excuse to say “heretofore.”

So, in asking one another to do stuff, we usually tack a question mark on the end.

But as with many weirdnesses that somehow don’t come to light until you’re bonded to a person until DEATH, it seems that my husband and I have totally opposite means of asking AND interpreting questions.

This can lead to confusion… Consternation… Irritation… Sometimes, all-out screaming. (I will let you guess who does the screaming.)

So I am wondering which of us is right more typical and which of us is wrong less typical.

I would like to know how you (and your spouse, if you are so inclined to tell me) act in this situation.

There is no right answer! (Yes, there is.)

Maybe even we are simply crazy and no one ever deals with this issue ever. In which case, I apologize for wasting your time!

Here Is the Situation:

Let’s say that you have some things to do – a task list, if you will – and you are feeling stressed out and overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks on said list that you have to complete before a certain deadline (like, bedtime).

It would help you IMMENSELY if your spouse were to relieve you of just one of these items. And your spouse – who loves you dearly – is more than happy to take over that task for you. (Seriously. Your spouse lives to make your life easier.)

Let’s say the task is something very small, like, I don’t know, taking out the trash.

Something that is small, yes, but still an inconvenience – though admittedly SMALL – for your spouse to undertake.

So how would you ask your spouse to take over this task for you?

Perhaps you would say something like Option One: “It would be a big help if you could take out the trash for me.”

Or maybe you would go with something along the lines of Option Two, “Could you please take out the trash for me? It would really help me out.”

Or perhaps you have a third option – Option Three – that you’d care to share with the class. I, for one, would be interested to hear it.

Now, it is possible that the two options I gave you seem very similar.

And to one person in my household, they do, in fact sound similar. Similar to the point that this person cannot fathom why the other person has a preference.

But to the Person With The Preference (and you don’t know how much it pains me to capitalize “with” and “the ” in the naming of this person, but I feel that, while stylistically egregious, it really emphasizes the emphasis-via-capitalization in a way that two lower case words in a row would not), not only are the two options VASTLY and WILDLY different from each other… but one option is CLEARLY superior to the other option.

It is so superior, in fact, that the WRONG option can make this person somewhat irrationally furious.

To the point that entire arguments have centered around the phrasing of this request.

Now, let us not sidetrack into a debate of the merits of Irrational Anger. Because I am sure – SURE – that each of us has certain weirdo things that set us off like none other. Despite the fact that, to the general population, that thing might seem totally innocuous and benign.

(One of my Irrational Anger-Causing Things is being asked, “So, did you get all your work done today?” I know it sounds like a totally innocent – even friendly – question, but it drives me NUTS. I think because 1. My work isn’t the type where I’m really ever DONE with anything… I mean, I complete tasks, but I stop working at the end of the day less because I’m done than because I have given all I have to give and 2. It makes me feel like I SHOULD be done, in which case I should probably work MORE because I will never be done ever and 3. Because it just really annoys me, irrationally, so I don’t really need a reason.)

(Also, rude service workers. But I guess that’s not so much an irrational anger as anger disproportionate to the degree of the offense.)

Well, it looks as though this thought train has just careened right off the tracks.

Let’s see. Where was I?

Oh yes. Option One vs. Option Two.

As you can imagine, with one of us believing firmly that one option is Right and the other option is Wrong… and the other of us not really getting why the whole thing is Such a Big Deal in the first place… We have a bit of a fracas once in a while. (Not too terribly often. We are not, you know, hurling zucchini [zucchinis? zucchini?] at each other or freezing each other’s underwear in acts of rage-filled vengeance.)

The Person With The Preference, by the way, feels that because one person has a preference and the other does not, that the non-preference person should – out of deference for said preference – simply use the Preferred Option when asking the other person to take over a task.

The logic is sound: After all, if you are asking someone to do you a favor, why not ask in the way that is least likely to provoke that person into a fit of froth and ire?

But the other person – not really understanding the difference between the two options in the first place – feels stubbornly obligated to stick to whatever guns one feels the need to stick to in such a situation.

And while you’re weighing in on ridiculous and inconsequential details of my marriage, let me ask you this…

If your spouse were to call to you from the other room, and ask something like, “Can you please come unload the dishwasher?”

…would you:

a)      Assume that your spouse needs you to unload the dishwasher immediately, and either say, “Sure, I’ll be there in a minute” or “Sure” and make your way into the kitchen immediately

or

b)      Assume that your spouse needs you to unload the dishwasher at your leisure, and either say, “Sure,” and take care of it when you have a break in whatever it is that you’re doing or say nothing and take care of it when you have a break?

Perhaps there is a hidden option c, which is to respond “Unload the dishwasher your damn self.” If so, you should be very glad that you are not married to me.

(NOTE: I want to point out that I’m not asking you to actually settle anything. In fact, my husband and I are firmly entrenched in our respective positions, and we are unlikely to give way even one tiny inch no matter how much Sensible Logical Logic you throw at us. I am simply asking you to share which option YOU would choose and why, so that I can (hopefully) feel some solidarity and/or get Irrationally Mad at those of you who see things the way  my husband does. (Not really. I will love you no matter what.)

If you feel like voting in a democratic way that might actually affect the way a couple does things – or might not, I’m not sure on the Official Rules – check out Temerity Jane’s “Settle This” series. Which is not only more interesting than anything I’ve ever written but also much more hilarious.)

And finally, in conclusionary business, and apropos of nothing, I leave you with this:

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