“Godammit, son of a bitch!”
Crash! (Louder this time.)
This is not good. This is not my preferred method of waking up in the morning. I would prefer to have hot coffee with thick cream brought to my bedside and suggestions gently whispered in my ear that I think about getting up, if I want to, but in the meantime, a cadre of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder is cleaning the entire house and maybe I should just roll over and sleep a little more until they’ve finished. Oh, and was the coffee strong enough?
But no. Not today.
There’s only one other person in the house (that would be my husband) and the noises and screams are coming from the bathroom. We are, I deduce, having plumbing problems he has decided to “fix.”
This is what you call really bad news. It makes me think of our first house in Virginia decades ago, when my husband’s parents visited us. My father-in-law, a lawyer, was bothered by the sound the toilet in the basement was making. Every time I looked up, he was hovering around the toilet, jiggling the handle and trying to make the noise go away. We told him the noise didn’t bother us. But it didn’t matter. He jiggled the handle over and over till it fell off and the low noise became a roar. We needed a plumber — not a lawyer who thought he was a plumber.
Similarly, today. My husband, the psychologist, has succumbed to the male urge to do something handy around the house. Never mind the fact he isn’t handy. He’s male, he has testosterone, get out of the way.
Yesterday, admittedly, the sink had been a little slow in emptying — which was evidently the problem he’d decided to address. This morning, though, by the time my husband finished fixing the drain, brackish water had backed up several inches in the sink.
“I think we should call a plumber,” my husband said.
I do love the male use of the first-person plural. It almost always means he’s talking about me. He managed to call the plumber himself, but I was the designated on-call person who’d be there whenever the plumber showed up. “I gave them your cell number,” my husband said before he slipped out of the house.
Two hours later, the plumber solved our problem. After he left, I kept wondering about the whole idea of specialization — and whether only women truly believe in it.
I wouldn’t have asked the plumber legal or psychological advice. So why do the psychologist and lawyer in my life insist on trying to fix the plumbing around me? It reminds me of the same answer I usually come up with when I’m faced with crazy male behavior: It’s the difference between XX and XY and it isn’t mine to question Y.
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)