I can keep secrets; it’s the people I tell them to who can’t.
Yet keeping a major achievement like mine a secret for thirty years is a major achievement in itself; but since government documents are embargoed for the same period it’s fair to let a few friends know about my victory.
Conspiracy theorists will find no political nourishment here, as it’s a personal win in the battle of the sexes; a battle that will never be won because both sides spend too much time fraternising with the enemy.
But all husbands, or in politically-correct jargon, “male partners in non same-sex contracts,” need to now that victories are within reach. And most satisfyingly of all, this victory came in the final wash-up (literally) without my need to say anything. How cool is that!
Behind every successful man is a capable wife. Maybe an astounded mother-in-law too, though I heard one fellow recently boasting his Scottish mother-in-law’s success. Whenever it’s foggy, local tour agencies pay her a lot of money to swim up and down Loch Ness!
My wife is a wonderful woman who has had to put up with so much. We met, fell in love and married in college. I was one year ahead of her, and after my graduation and ordination we moved up country.
Back then there were no online or correspondence options, so she never finished her degree. Yes, she put the heart before the course.
She is a wonderful woman, but you need to know how I secretly broke one of her most slovenly habits.
Whenever she loaded the washing machine from the laundry basket, she never bothered to check my pockets. As a result, clean clothes often unearthed notes I’d written to myself: folded, mulched and pressed together into papier-mache. Trying to unfold or decipher them was a far greater challenge than any self-punishing joy from completing jigsaws, logic problems or cryptic crosswords.
One day when putting on my shirt I found a pack of new, now unusable, postage stamps fused into the pocket; but my protests were ignored.
In those days, before disposable nappies (or diapers, for American readers,) we were the average Aussie family – with 2.5 kids. I knew she was busy, so I chose the noble path.
Grin and wear it!
My laundry challenge was set to increase, for our impending baby began to insist on arriving early – a trait that he has never since embraced with any enthusiasm.
The doctor prescribed four weeks bed-rest in hospital, so our completed kids went off to enjoy bonding with their grandparents, while I held the fort at home and around the church on my own. Hospital calls featured more strongly in my pastoral report for that month.
Housework? A breeze, for there was only one of me to mess up and only one of me to clean up.
And doing the laundry was so easy!
However, while removing the last of the clothes from the machine one day, I glanced inside the bowl...
Instantly I stopped wondering where my pen had got to…
No ordinary pen; it was one of those special retractable ball-point models with four colours. And all those inks had conspired to disgorge themselves during the cycle, leaving the legacy of a random pattern all over the clothes. My clothes!
I quietly disposed of the pen.
I quietly disposed of the clothes.
I quietly learned to check my own pockets.
Result: without any nagging from me; my wife overcame her slackness!
Oestrogen-fuelled minds may have already second-guessed my discovery; some may be sniggering; but this is my personal test(osterone)imony.
Simply put, males come second in multi-skilling. So please cut us some slack. We simply can’t perform routine tasks while we also have to solve/create/exacerbate (the reader may choose the most appropriate verb) the world’s problems...
The secret behind fixing others’ faults emerges from being honest about our own, for common sense shows that if we point the finger at someone else, we will always have three pointing back at us.
Just as Jesus so very pointedly told the Galilean crowds as they hung on his every word: “In the same way as you judge others, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you!” (Matt 7:2)
A truth I have learned even more pointedly. Ball-pointedly!
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