Irreverent Mama

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Every couple develops their own little rituals, little domestic patterns of behaviour, patterns that you very often scarcely notice, but which give comfort to both: the comfort of consistency, the comfort of familiarity. Two people moving in the comfortably worn, familiar, soothing patterns of mutually satisfactory domesticity.

Little rituals that you scarcely notice unless one of them drives the other mad.

Every night, when I get undressed for bed, I put such items as require it in the laundry basket, conveniently located on the floor next to the shelves on which our clothes are stored. Such items as can be worn again are hung or folded, and put away. Then I wash my face, read for a bit. If Matthew is in bed and awake, there's usually ten minutes of snuggling and talk before we turn out the light. Sometimes the snuggling becomes more ... focussed ... and takes considerably longer than ten minutes, but we'll fade to black on that. It is not the point of this post.

Every night, when he gets undressed for bed (often, though not always, at the same time as me), Matthew leaves his clothes in a heap on the floor beside the laundry basket. Then he brushes his teeth, reads for a while. (Ditto the snuggling and talk and fade-to-black as per paragraph above.)

I have no idea why his laundry has to spend the night on the floor. Usually (though not always) it makes it to the basket in the morning. I have asked him why; as I have utterly no recollection of his answer, it is clear to me that it was neither convincing nor compelling. However, whatever it was, it is both convincing and compelling for Matthew, because, happy in having explained all to my satisfaction, he blithely continues in this irksome habit. Not wanting to disappoint his cheerful self, and, because generally he does put it all away in the morning, I have decided to let it go.

So what if the socks'n'boxers'n'shirt'n'jeans sit in a rumpled heap in the dark overnight? No skin off my nose. Once it's dark, I can't see them. Once I'm asleep, I'm unaware of them. It's a small thing, a fleeting thing, an insignificant little quirk.


But here is my dilemma: To object to such a small thing would be petty, and I deplore pettiness. I will not admit it in myself, nor, worse, display it to the man I love. The nightly freeing of the laundry is a very small thing. And he has his reason -- whatever it was -- for this little domestic Chinese water torture ritual.

Despite all my nobler inclinations, despite my efforts to rise above it all, it still irks me. Whenever I pass by the laundry basket -- sometimes to see a sock, or even the sleeve of a shirt draped, in tantalizing potentiality, right over the rim! (Why not all the way in? Why? WHY?) -- it irks me.

So I've come up with a solution, brilliant in its simplicity. Every morning, when he is in the bathroom, I take from his pocket the largest value coin in there: a loonie or a twonie. So far, in two weeks of employing this new strategy, I have accumulated close to $20.

Now when I see that heap o'laundry in the evening, instead of an itch of exasperation, I feel a small rise of smug vengeance, knowing that in the morning, he'll pay for the privilege of parking his clothes outside the designated area.

It's a system that works for both of us. One of those little domestic rituals that evolve between couples, enabling us to rub along with minimum of abrasion, a ritual and a pattern that brings comfort and satisfaction to both.

And it's not petty. Nuh-uh. Not at all.

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  • First, again!!!!

    You'd be pissed off if Matthew didn't put anything in the laundry for a week or so!!

    As for the stealing! tut, tut.

    By Blogger john.g., at 1:52 p.m.  

  • Pfft. Just because something could be worse doesn't make the reality flawless.

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 2:22 p.m.  

  • Rather good that! I just get bothered into submission, but the loss of a little money, that I'd notice.

    By Blogger The Boy, at 6:43 a.m.  

  • Clever what will you buy with your (well-earned, I think...ha ha ha) pocket money?

    I must do a post about what drives me mad with my man...

    By Blogger Wendz, at 4:06 p.m.  

  • Hey, we have the same husband--although mine's a woman.
    I've taken to "punishing" her by only doing the laundry that actually makes it into the hamper. But, alas, she doesn't even notice.

    By Blogger Denguy, at 11:15 p.m.  

  • Twenty dollars? That is NOTHING. I could be a millionaire by now if I'd just kept track.

    My husband does the same thing. He also leaves lights on, food unrefrigerated, and (the real clincher), the doors to his wardrobe open Every Single Time. He is bowled over by my pettiness in pointing this out and requesting that he close the doors. After all, what difference does it make whether they are shut or open,he argues? What difference indeed, I say. If he's got to ask, he'll never know.

    He is driven wild by tiny things I do, so I just make sure to keep doing them. I won't give in until he does, and believe me, those clothes of his don't even get anywhere near the laundry basket.

    Petty? I think not!

    By Blogger Mary Witzl, at 10:54 a.m.  

  • Boy - I have never been a very good "botherer", so I resort to "devious".

    Wendz - I'm up to $30 now, and I haven't decided WHAT to do with it. Though it has occurred to me to buy him a surprise gift. I like the convoluted irony of earning gratitude and relationship points by treating him with something purchased from money I've scoffed from him. Heh.

    Oh, I'm bad. Bad, bad, bad.

    Denguy - well, the problem is she has too many clothes. Perhaps you could start hiding stuff until she runs out of something critical?

    Mary - I'm now thanking my lucky stars. Matthew is very good about picking up as he goes, and though he tends to accumulate clutter piles, they are in specific, consistent spots, spots that are not typically in the way. I'm able to ignore them in a way I can't seem to ignore the laundry.

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 2:03 p.m.  

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