Friends sometimes wonder why I’m still eating my breakfast rolled oats when it’s past noon.

My wife Marsha, the Almost Perfect Woman, rolls around in the room – sitting on her walker, cane with cleaning rag fastened on the end with a strong rubber band – and while she’s scrubbing subatomic particles off the rug, my oats get cold because I have to talk with her. When you live with a compulsive cleaner, talking with your wife while she works qualifies for “togetherness” or “sharing quality time.”

Two days ago there was a cookie crumb under the dining room table. I had to crawl under the table and retrieve it before the children came to visit.

I got the crumb when she was in the other room and didn’t see me. I figured she’d forget about it and not even know the difference. But an hour later I heard: “Thank you for getting that crumb.”

The kids bring a two-pound dog with them and he would have eaten the crumb. But no. I had to deprive the dog from what might have been the first hearty crumb he’d seen in a week.

You’ve seen the helicopters with heat detection rays that can find an escaped prisoner hiding in a leafy forest? When it comes to detecting crumbs and tiny threads or pieces of lint, my wife can see through wood, plastic and cloth.


If you’re one of the lucky ones who lives with someone, what does “sharing quality time” mean in your home? Draining a quart of Jack Daniels? Nipping at some vintage 2019 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti? You could live alone and do that.

When conversing with his wife, a prudent husband has on hand several comments that adequately respond to any comment or question.

“You don’t say” or “My, my” will only get you so far before you are accused of “not listening.”

If you don’t put the freshly baked cookies in the freezer, you can also be accused of “not listening,” even though the truth of the matter is that you simply forgot.

Am I the only husband in Maine who is accused of not listening? Many men who do their very best to listen either do not hear or they forget. So why are we not given the benefit of the doubt? It is easier to accuse one of being inattentive than having a disability over which one has no control. Some of us are in the same category as the dyslexic child who has trouble reading and is accused of “not trying.”

Any man who is serious about conversing with his wife when he feels he has nothing interesting to say would be well advised to listen and learn when she is talking with two of her friends across a Scrabble board.


My wife has been spoiled by a little round fuzzy ball about the size of a sea urchin. We got it several years ago when a friend showed us how the thing answered questions preceded by “Hey, Google.”

It started out as a curiosity. But because “Hey, Google” always yields a prompt, cheerful reply, it has become an indispensable part of our home. Marsha uses it as a cooking timer that can also help with recipes. It gives her the weather for St. George, Maine, as well as for the towns of her extended family. When she’s doing a word puzzle it knows that Babe Ruth’s batting average was .393 and that the Belgian Congo is no longer on the map.

Any man who has had to compete with such a machine had better split the wood and do the wash; he doesn’t have much else going for him when it comes to an aptitude for immediate conversational gratification.

On the brighter side, in the movie “The Paper Chase” there was a law student with a photographic memory. But the memorized facts were useless because the student was unable to make a decision. The Google machine knows millions of facts but is unable to think (yet). Ask it to do something that is not printed online, and it is stumped.

Only here might I pretend to have an advantage over the ignorant machine. For I can say things that make my wife laugh. Because at this minute I cannot  think of a recent example that elicited more than a groan, I will trot out the comment that never fails to amuse. Standing about a foot away from her, I gaze lovingly into her eyes and, in a soft voice, say: “I am the boss in this house.”

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