Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Getting Organized in the Bermuda Triangle

My wife says I never listen to her. At least I think that's what she said. ~Author Unknown

I learned early in our marriage that my wife had a fetish for moving things around. We were living in a typical two-bedroom apartment, with what is laughingly referred to as a “galley” kitchen and a living room. When you walked in the door, you were in the living room. The place was unprepossessing but comfy. I am admittedly a creature of habit, so I was used to walking in the door, turning to my right, and hanging up my coat on the coatrack. One day, I came in, turned to my right – and fell over the couch.

Fortunately, it was a large couch, so I didn't bounce off and hurt myself. I merely lay there with the typical deer-in-the-headlights look that husbands get. My wife was so concerned about my welfare that she stopped laughing after only five or six minutes.

“What the devil is the couch doing here?”

“Oh, I just thought I'd rearrange the room. How do you like it?”

From then on, I insisted on fair warning when she went on a rearranging spree. The wife seldom remembers to warn me, but she does make an effort not to leave anything where I'll fall over it.

What brought this to mind was that the wife is at it again. Tonight, I noticed the armoire had come out of hiding. For the Philistines among you, an armoire (pronounced armwar) is a movable closet that isn't quite big enough to hold what you need to have it hold but is more than big enough to be an absolute bear to move. My wife bought this thing. My wife likes buying things that really aren't quite right for what we need. She knows this, which is why I picked out the refrigerator, stove, and dish washer over the years. Picking things with the right functionality is not her strong suit.

The armoire, for example, wasn't really what she needed. What she needed was a large dresser with lots of drawers. What she got was a semi-movable closet with no drawers. So, after some years in our bedroom, with her clothes stacked in the bottom of the thing, she decided to swipe a dresser my son didn't want and banished the armoire to the utility room. Today, however, the monster had navigated out into the living room.

“What the devil is the armoire doing here?” (I ask this sort of thing a lot.)

“Oh, I'm just rearranging things to get organized.”

Now, I love my wife, but she couldn't get organized if she was president of the AFL-CIO (unions .. organizers...come on, work with me here). Her basic problem is that she never gets rid of anything. We have a broken tuner knob from a Sears TV we owned when we got married. TV's don't even have tuning knobs any more, but, by golly, if they ever decide to put them back on, we've got a replacement for one – if we find the piece that broke off of it. Which is probably around here someplace.

Once, when moving, I found boxes that hadn't been opened since our previous move. We had lived in a house for four years and never had a need for anything in those boxes. I wanted to move them immediately out to the curb for trash pickup, but my wife was adamant.
“We might need something in there!”

“Like what? You don't even know what's in the boxes. If we didn't need to even open them in four years, there's no way there's something in there we need.”

Of course, we kept them. I think that one them, 20 years and one more house later, is still unopened.

I'm no organizational genius, but, in my den, in my office at work, I can normally lay hands on anything I need. When our kitchen remodel was done several years ago, I took the opportunity to organize my cookwear and utensils so I could quickly find them when the urge to create a culinary masterpiece was upon me. The wife decided to add some pans and move things around. Now, I can never find the little saucepan I use for making chocolate sauce. Or the 14" lid I bought for our big frying pans. One of these days, I'm not going to be able to find the stove.

So, the wife is on one of her “get organized” tears. A group of shelves that were in one corner of the dining room are gone. I have no idea where the stuff that was on them is, and I don't want to know. The stuff may be in the armoire for all I know. Our homes seem to turn into veritable Bermuda Triangles. Stuff disappears; stuff reappears. It happens for no discernible reason during one of her stuff-shuffling episodes. For all I know, Flight 19 might be hiding out in the root cellar.

A few minutes ago, I went out to the living room to look for the new dictionary. It's a new dictionary because we haven't been able to find our old one for a couple of years now, a casualty of an earlier re-org. After a couple of minutes, I gave up.

“Where's the dictionary?”

“It's right there. Oh, here, I'll show you.”

“Right there” was on a little desk that sits near the living room. It's been piled high with odds, ends, detritus, and general junk ever since it wandered up here from the basement. The dictionary, which a couple of weeks ago was sitting on an end table in clear view, was under about six inches of the stuff.

"What the devil is the dictionary doing there?" (Like I said ...)

I don't spend a lot of time in the living room. When I do, I stick close to the dogs. I figure if I get buried under something, the dogs can dig me out.

In this house, at least, she can't set any traps for me when I come in. The door from the garage leads into the kitchen, and the refrigerator is connected to a water pipe for the ice maker. It isn't going anywhere.

It's like a haven of safety in the Bermuda Triangle.

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