By Wayne Chan
Northwest Asian Weekly
There comes a point in your life when you realize your strengths. There’s a confidence that comes from knowing what you do well. It’s a confidence that shines through when you’re doing something well – even a swagger.
Me? I’m good at working a computer, playing tennis, and I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at this whole writing thing. If it’s possible to type with swagger, I think I’m doing that right now.
But most importantly, I think I’m a good husband and a good dad.
I do all the things you’re supposed to do as a good husband and dad. I can fix things. I can comfort my kids when they’re feeling down. I can assemble IKEA furniture like it’s nobody’s business. I’ll surprise my wife with flowers, jewelry, or little trinkets from time to time to surprise her. Look, I know what I’m doing.
And yet, even with all of my proven skills in say, setting up the TV and stereo system, so that my wife Maya can turn it on without asking for my help, I have a dilemma.
Maya thinks I’m an idiot.
Let me take that back. She would likely agree that I truly am good at all the things I’ve just listed. And to be perfectly clear, she’s never actually uttered the words, “You are an idiot.” If I had to bet, I think the most accurate description she would have for me is, “He is a selective idiot.”
Let me explain.
I’m perceptive enough to see that in at least one area, Maya’s perception of my skills is less than complimentary. She never says anything, but you can just tell…her body language is screaming, “Idiot!”
Apparently, I am not equipped to do the laundry. Specifically, her laundry.
Every week, Maya and I take turns doing the laundry. When she does the laundry, everything seems to be pretty clear-cut. No muss. No fuss. No issues.
But when I’m doing the laundry, apparently there’s this incredibly complex organizational folding and sorting protocol that I’m completely oblivious to.
It started off the first few times I attempted to do the laundry. My own clothes were never an issue – again, no muss, no fuss. But when I’d attempt to fold, sort and put away all of Maya’s clothes, that’s when it started.
After I’d finished, and for a few days after, Maya would go into her closet and come back out holding an article of clothing.
“This doesn’t go here. It goes over here.”, she’d say. Later on, she’d say, “You’re not folding it right. The way you fold it, it won’t fit right on the shelf.”
The next couple of attempts, I tried to follow her instructions and fold the items properly and put them away in the system she outlined.
Twenty years later, and my laundry routine, as far as her clothes are concerned, are to fold them all and stack them all on our bedroom dresser. At some point later in the day, Maya will spend time unstacking the clothes, unfolding and refolding them, and then putting them away in her closet.
If that doesn’t scream “He’s an idiot,” I don’t know what does.
In my defense, women’s fashion attire is so convoluted and complex that it’s simply beyond the capacity for most men to fathom. Let’s do a comparison.
In my closet, you will find the following items: T-shirts, dress shirts, shorts, pants, several coats, a few suits, socks, underwear, and accessories like belts and ties. That’s it.
Now let’s try sorting through Maya’s clothes. Let’s look at one particular pair of pants.
By the looks of them, they’re not regular pants. They’re stretchy, almost like a leotard. But the pants legs are short, like capri pants. Note – I have no idea how I know the term “capri pants”, but for some reason, I do. I know she has some of these stretchy pants that are regular length too. I don’t see any other stretchy, leotard, capri-like pants. So, which pile do these pants belong? Where does it go? Why is this starting to sound like a high school math problem?
If a pair of Capri pants is traveling to Chicago at 65 miles per hour, and a goat is running towards them at 5 miles per hour…
You see what my conundrum is? There’s too many options.
Let’s take another one. She has this animal-print button-down shirt. It seems to be made of flannel. It’s a pajama top then, right? But wait, she’s worn another shirt out and about that also looks like it’s made out of flannel. And then there’s another flannel shirt she seems to wear when it’s cold and she’s working out. So, does this shirt go in the pajama-top pile, the wearing- out-of-the-house-flannel-top pile, or the work-out-when-it’s-cold pile?
When you walk into her closet, every garment is neatly stacked, but there aren’t any labels on the shelves detailing what should go there. Therefore, I give it my best shot and put them where I think they should go. I’ve yet to put anything where it’s supposed to go. I don’t know how she even knows. There must be some system in her mind.
Either that, or she’s using The Force. I mean, really…what am I? The Clothes Whisperer?
Then there’s the mystery clothes hamper. This is a clothes hamper that sits next to the regular clothes hamper, but is reserved for certain garments only. I would love to tell you what type of clothes goes into the mystery clothes hamper and give you some insight into the process involved with washing those clothes, but I can’t – I’m not allowed to touch that hamper. I can’t even tell you what’s inside that hamper as I don’t have permission.
When I get the proper security clearance credentials, I’ll let you know.
Until then, I need to figure out a way to barcode every item in her closet. Either that, or develop a Dewey Decimal system for sorting out laundry. (end)
Wayne Chan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.