My wife loses her car keys. She’s good at it. There should be official recognition, an Oscar, crediting her brand of errant genius.
I know where my car keys are. On those rare occasions when I’ve lost them, I break out into a sweaty tremble with heart palpitations until they’re found.
I’m a conservative. My wife is liberal.
“Where are my keys?” She wants to go somewhere.
“Where you carelessly threw them,” I snap. “Why can’t you change? Take the time to think before you toss ‘em.”
“Don’t yell at me,” she says.
Clever ploy, one of her favorites. I’m not yelling. This smokescreen takes attention off her negligence (losing her keys), allows her to take psychological refuge in denial by accusation. She exaggerated my response, which wasn’t yelling, only mildly irritated.
“I wasn’t yelling!” I yell. “This is yelling!”
“I don’t need this,” she says curtly. “You’re always telling me I’m a failure.”
Good chess move. Harping on the past, about how unfair I’ve been, without spelling out any specific former event.
I go for the jugular like a prosecuting attorney. “Why can’t you just say you’re wrong? Tossing car keys about in an already messy house is a bad idea, one you could correct by simply taking the time to…….”
“You’re prefect!” She mocks, interrupting me.
Another flawless move. Baiting me, the second step to breaking down my logic.
My mouth clenches, registers anger. Saliva bubbles form at a corner of the lips.
“Answer my question. Is it wrong to carelessly toss about your keys?”
“I’m sorry I make you so upset.”
“No no!” I shake my head. “I asked you a direct question. Just yes or no. That’s all I want. Is it wrong to be careless with car keys?”
“Why are you being irrational?”
“I’m not irrational. It’s common sense.”
Brilliant move. See what she did. She not only didn’t answer my direct yes or no question (a crooked politician would do the same), but she threw the onus back on me. I’m irrational for suggesting she shouldn’t be stupid.
I’m furious. I slam my fist into the wall.
“Fine!” She turns her back, walks toward the door. “I’m leaving. Can I have your keys?”
I start to say no, when by sheer luck, she discovers her keys, underneath our overdue, yet-to-be-filed tax form. Instantly, she’s able to retreat to moral high ground.
I’m impotent. My justification is gone. Suddenly, I’m a complainer, who made a big deal out of what is now nothing (she’s got her keys).
She returns later with Chinese take-out food.
I’m hungry, calmed down. I express minor regret, a half-apology.
I’m also beaten, a lightweight intellect compared to her feminine illogic, a naïve, primitive savage who can be soothed by a packet of fried dough with a piece of beef inside (pot sticker).