Glancing up, I realize that my title is a bit ambiguous. The word “pack” can have many meanings, such as “a pack of gum,” or a “Cub Scout pack.” Or carrying a concealed weapon.
So let me state at the outset that the following is not intended to be a sequel to Orange Is The New Black, although murder could very well be one possible outcome.
But no. I’m referring to “pack” as in “packing.” Like putting clothes into a suitcase or a garment bag, or loading boxes into a car.
Please don’t stop reading. I promise that, despite the title, what follows is not a downer. Rather, it’s an observation, a practical consideration, and maybe even a little bit funny.
What precipitated my seemingly ghoulish reflection was an actual conversation I had with my husband, a semi-retired attorney, who, for the past three years has been vowing that this year would be the last. However, you did notice that the prefix is still attached to the verb.
When I was a young married person, I would sometimes find myself in the company of an older married couple who had been together for a very long time. And it was impossible not to notice that they would frequently disagree over the most unimportant subjects. And this disagreement would invariably lead to an argument.
I used to wonder to myself if this was the way they had been communicating for the past 40 years, and if so, they’ve done a very good job of concealing their battle scars. Or, could the pattern of their discourse be something more recent? And if so, what was the fatal wedding anniversary that became the turning point?
When it comes to decluttering, the world seems to consist of two types of people: those who are able to divest themselves of inanimate objects once they’ve outlived their usefulness, and those who would sentimentally cling to an old rubber band.
Darned if I know why letting go of things is so difficult for some people, and so much easier for others, but I do know this. If you happen to be living with someone who is a “keeper” and you are inclined the other way, I suggest purchasing a helmet in preparation for repeatedly running up against that stone wall. Trust me. I speak from experience.
I am of the firm opinion that if a project is advertised as something you can do yourself, it should be exactly that. Yourself. Alone. No assistance required. And therefore, no possibility of discord with the significant other.
It is with this belief that, singularly, I have tackled furniture purchases from Ikea and Crate and Barrel, spending many satisfying moments on the floor with my phillips head screw driver, fitting Part A into Part B, and praying that this time, they have included the proper-sized screws in the little plastic bag with the assortment of fasteners.
When I’m finally finished, certain that I have successfully included all of the provided pieces, and have located my right leg, which has fallen asleep during the process, I stand proudly in front of my newly assembled bookcase. Yay me!
At times I feel like I’ve been transported back to the 60’s and am trapped in that old ad for Grant’s Scotch.
Remember that ad? Don’t try to tell me you weren’t born yet. (Well some of you weren’t born yet, but very few.)
I’m not sure how many bottles of whiskey they sold, but the slogan As Long As You’re Up, Get Me a Grant’s had a major impact on popular culture. It went viral before there was such a thing as “viral.” It was a subject of a famous New Yorker cartoon and found a home in the Yale Book of Quotations, in the company of such other blockbusters as I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.
I hope you’re not angry with me because I haven’t invited you to dinner lately. I’m aware that you have had us over a couple of times, and I have not reciprocated. The truth is, I would love to. But there is a major problem. I no longer have a dining table.
You see, my husband has undertaken the redecoration of our home. In contrast to my affinity for the minimalist, uncluttered look, he seems to favor a very different style. The new decor has a contemporary motif based on two design principles of his own creation.
Principle I: Nature abhors a clean surface.
Principle II: Every electrical outlet must contain at least one, if not two, charger cords.
It is the former that has prevented me from being a gracious hostess.
Looking over the kitchen counter, I can see my husband. He is in the living room, sitting in his favorite chair, reading the newspaper, and leisurely enjoying his second cup of coffee. It is early morning, and he’s still in his pjs, bath robe and slippers. It is one of those days when he doesn’t have to rush off to work. The dogs are curled up at his feet, partially out of love. The other part is the hope that some left-over crumbs from breakfast will fall from his lap.
Although this scenario is one that has become entirely familiar to me, on this particular morning I am suddenly overwhelmed by a warm glow which I’m fairly certain is not a lingering hot flash.
It was my personal opinion that if your car had a GPS, your marriage had at least a fifty percent better chance of lasting than the national average. I confess that this conclusion was not based on a government-sponsored scientific research study, but rather on anecdotal evidence gathered from years of road trips with two different husbands. (I offer the fact that I even had two different husbands as support for my hypothesis.)
Second only to an argument about the air-conditioner setting, there was nothing more conducive to a shout-fest than riding in a car with one’s spouse on your way to a location where neither of you had ever been.
One of you would be driving, the other holding the map. In my case, the map was usually upside down. Map-reading is not a skill that is on my resume. The driver, (him) relying on the map-reader (me) as the car approached the fork in the road, could get very hot under the collar while I was still struggling to determine if the location in question was the pink one or the green one.
This is so awkward!
The situation in which I currently find myself is both embarrassing and humbling. But I must be strong and endure the humiliation of a public confession.
Over the past year, I have written about the tiny, but not insignificant, imperfections in my married life. I have shared with you the fact that my husband constantly loses things, makes a mess in the kitchen, hogs the remote control, and two weeks ago, how he micro-manages my driving. (Hang on to this last one. It has relevance to what follows.) Through it all, and a tribute to his true character, he has remained a good sport, actually aiding and abetting me by taking the photographs for many of my blogs.
There has been an amendment to my marriage contract. I’m not referring to a legal document that was signed in the presence of a lawyer or a rabbi who may or may not have also been a notary, but an informal set of conventions that have evolved over time in the partnership.
Every marriage has one. It usually includes a tacit or explicit division of responsibilities that permits the union to function more or less efficiently on a daily basis. For example, in my marriage, I’m in charge of such details as making sure we don’t run out of toilet paper, seeing to it that the dogs are fed twice daily, changing light bulbs, and brewing coffee in the morning. My husband is in charge of the remote control.
And for most of our time together, he has been the family driver. Until recently.