Never Come Between A Man And His Underwear
For longer than I care to admit, I’ve felt immersed in a sea of testosterone as a wife and mother of sons. In my household of men I’m often blamed for a missing article of clothing, an important document, or some other random item they think I have mentally catalogued to retrieve within seconds of their request. Even if it’s been missing for weeks.
Why should pieces of their lives strewn across the floor, under a heap of papers on the dining room table or hidden behind a glass in the kitchen be my responsibility? Because I’m a woman or the woman?
I am the chosen one who does most household chores — yes; I am guilty of making their little messes disappear so they’re invisible to the naked eye. I do it so often it’s a mindless task. Half the time, I don’t remember what I’ve done with their stuff. I’ve thrown a few important things to them in the trash — leading to their 30-minute garbage excavation.
I’m sorry — a tiny piece of paper with an indecipherable list or telephone number doesn’t look important to me on a Saturday morning when I’m trying to make the house resemble a normal home. If I had a dollar for every time I said, “if it’s important to you, please put it in a place where you can find it.” I’d be richer than Crème brûlée.
Truth be told, all this is partially my fault. A stay at home mom for 14 years — I didn’t know any better. When everyone returned home from work and school, the house was spotless. I prided myself on keeping everyone’s life organized. Once home, they had nothing to do but mess it up again — I had nothing better to do but clean it up again. So it seemed.
What year is this anyway, 1950? No, it’s the mid-90s.
Then everything and nothing changed. I went to work outside of the home. My entire house crumbled to the ground. Everyone continued creating their messes. Those little messes snowballed into big messes until the daily chaos assaulted my senses. I wasn’t home all day to make them disappear, but I hoped it would register I couldn’t do it all. It didn’t.
I didn’t realize the unspoken expectation to carry on as if nothing changed without a blip was the expectation. It became next to impossible to manage.
I wondered how women work, cook, clean, help with homework, attend sporting events, take part in PTA, volunteer for field trips, keep track of bills, doctor’s appointments, assist with a home-based business and remain smoking hot — ready to pounce. Please, I was smoking hot — exhausted.
Was this a thing or a sure path to a nervous breakdown? No wonder my grandmother used to get up at 4:00 in the morning. With lots of love and patience, I survived those days. Just when I thought I crossed a threshold.
Fast forward — a year ago. With one foot inside my front door from a hellacious two-hour commute, I glimpsed my husband standing over a pile of his dirty laundry with a quizzical expression. I blushed — this was progress. Before I could slip out of my black Louboutin flats, he asked, “Where is my fresh pair of red underwear?” “The new ones I just bought.”
“Hi honey, smooches!” “Thank you for asking — I had a great day, how was yours?” “Did you check under the bed, bathroom floor, or the laundry basket stored in the chair behind the bedroom door where you throw most of your shit, err, stuff?”
I walked straight into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator door, and grabbed the wine bottle as I wasn’t about to get reeled into spending the next half hour searching for his red underwear after a hard day’s work.
What is it about a man who thinks a woman should always know where all his belongings are? I guess a man who grew up with his own stay at home mom. Wait, had I repeated a pattern of comfort unbeknownst to myself?
“I looked everywhere — are you sure you didn’t do something with them?” he prodded.
“Um, no Boo, I promise you I’m not harboring your underwear.” “WTH?” Even if I was because of some weird fetish — no offense to anyone. Can I sit down — unwind for a moment?
“I can’t understand it, I just bought them.” He padded back and forth down the hallway to the bedroom at least three times — his footsteps sounding like a spoiled child’s deliberate thud with each foot landing on the hardwood floor. What a beautiful monster I had created.
I shot him a side eye as I took a gulp from my wine glass. I’m way past the cutesy sipping stage. “Isn’t this the same pair you couldn’t find last week — may I ask what’s so special about this pair of underwear?” “Don’t you have any others that float your boat as much?” “Is there a secret compartment inside that takes you to a cheerful place?”
With a raised bushy eyebrow, he said, “I don’t know what the hell could have happened to them.” His concern was disconcertingly sincere. I almost felt sorry for him.
By this time, the empty washing machine is on full throttle. He started it in anticipation of washing his clothes and got distracted by the missing treasure. Nature calls his name. He disappears into the bathroom as I exhale in reprieve from cross-examinations about his unmentionables.
I overhear him chuckling to himself behind the bathroom door and think, surely he’s lost his mind. I grabbed the bottle off the coffee table and poured another glass of wine. I tilt my head to see my imaginary thought bubble. It says, “this wine is making me feel awesome — I couldn’t care less if you find them or not.” Chile, please.
When he emerged from the bathroom booming with laughter — his pants scrunched around his knees — I sprayed chardonnay all over the armchair where I sat privy to my own reality show. Whoomp — there it is! His red underwear playing ghost in my favorite secret hiding place — under the pants he was wearing.
Yes — dear, that’s exactly where I put them.