Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Man Survey

I’m very grateful for the blessing of eternal marriage.
My husband and I have been sealed in the temple for time and eternity, not just until death parts us.
It’s a good thing too, because it may take me that long to figure him out.
You see, the problem is that he’s a man and men don’t always make sense.

You’d think that being married for decades would be enough to teach a person all about the opposite sex. Well, not necessarily, is all I can say.
Men are still a mystery to me even after being married to one for all these years.

It must be like what some church authority once said about raising children. “Before we had kids my wife and I had lots of theories about the proper way to raise children and now we have lots of children and no theories.”
It’s the same way with men I guess.
There’s only one thing I absolutely know for sure about them and it’s this… they’re different from women. Really, basically, at a cellular level, different. They see the world from a uniquely male point of view which sometimes doesn’t make sense to a woman.
Let me tell you about a case in point.

One Sunday when we lived in the mountains I was standing in the church foyer after the meeting when my friend Sandy came up to me looking a bit dejected. I asked her what was wrong and she said that her husband Joey was mad at her and she couldn’t figure out why.
I asked her to explain.

“Well,” she said, “It’s about our porch. The front steps have been creaky for the last year or so and finally the top step got so loose that it was a hazard. I practically broke my neck the other day dragging groceries into the house. I’d asked Joey to fix them a hundred times and he always said he’d get to it when he could. Well, he obviously didn’t want to fix them so Tuesday I called a repairman who came right over and took the whole thing apart, rebuilt the top step and only charged me $60. The porch looks like new. I work part-time you know, so I paid him from my paycheck.
Well, when Joey got home he had a fit! He said he could have fixed that porch for free in less than 30 minutes and I’d wasted $60! Then he went into a long tirade about how I don’t know the value of a dollar….you know. I thought he'd be glad the porch was fixed. I don’t understand why he’s so mad.”

“I know exactly what you mean!’’ I cried. “I had the same thing with a toilet that kept running.
Larry said it was the flapper and he’d fix it when he got around to it. It drove me crazy for months. I finally called a plumber and then boy did we have a fight. I didn’t understand either. I thought I was doing him a favor. He obviously didn't want to fix the toilet.”

Sandy stood thinking quietly for a bit and then said quizzically, “Maybe it’s one of those man things.”
She was a newlywed, married only about 20 years or so and still at the trying to figure them out stage in life. I’d been married a lot longer than that and had arrived at the you’ll never figure them out so just deal with it stage.

“I wonder if they’re all like that,” I asked her thoughtfully.

She gazed off into space for a minute and then said, “Let’s find out.”

“How?” I replied.

“We’ll do a survey! Sandy cried. “Let’s start right here and now.”

And so the Man Survey was born in the church foyer.
We moved outside the building to the sidewalk to be respectful and if a man came out we asked him if he would take part in our survey.

Sandy explained the porch scenario, changing names to protect herself, while I told my leaky toilet story.
We then asked each man if he would get mad at his wife in the same situations.
We asked all kinds of men…… highly educated professionals, blue collar workers, old men, newlyweds, guys with manicures, fancy dressers, guys who needed a haircut and one guy with red suspenders and grease under his fingernails.
In all those surveys we found only ONE sensible man!
He listened intently to our stories and then asked, “Where’d she get the money?” We said she works part-time. At that point he exclaimed happily, “Go for it Babe!”

One man was an especially bitter disappointment. After listening intently he looked at us like we had lost our minds and said in a very serious tone, “My wife knows better than to do a thing like that.” He had three college degrees!

After we finished at church we were so perplexed that we decided to continue to survey men we saw at work during the week.
Next Sunday we met again to compare results.
“Go for it, Babe!” was the only sensible man we found. He alone didn’t get at least very annoyed with his wife.

“They really don't make sense,” Sandy said dejectedly. “How am I ever going to know what will upset Joey if he doesn’t make sense?”

“You won’t….but you’ll get used to it.” I replied knowingly.

Then, a few weeks later, I ran across another man thing that involved underwear drawers.
I quietly went up to Sandy after church.
I asked her if her husband kept strange things in his underwear drawers.

“Like what?” she asked, looking at me with a puzzled expression.

“Like socket wrenches, dead batteries, old car dealer brochures, extension cords, cable to an old VCR, various ammunition including shotgun shells, nuts, (walnuts, pistachios, and the kind you use with bolts), magnifying glasses and binoculars, lots of quarters with state pictures, expired coupons for free chile dogs, that sort of thing.” I said.

“Why yes!” she cried, “Why do you ask?”

“Well, Larry and I just had a “discussion” about a car part he had in with his socks.
I was putting clean underwear away and I asked him very sweetly, “What’s this dear?”
I held up a car part the size of a casserole dish to show him.

“It’s a filter and air cleaner from a 1991 Chevy Metro,” he replied. “Why do you ask and why are you bothering my stuff again?

“Well, cars are usually kept in the garage. Don’t car parts belong in the garage with the cars?”

“HA! That shows what you know! he triumphantly shouted.
“We don’t even own that car anymore!”

I just shook my head and walked away.
Eternity is a good long time.
I just hope it’s long enough.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Good Game

Usually when I do these scribblings I try to disguise the identity of the people involved and change names to protect those both innocent and guilty. Today, however, I’m going to name names. I’m going to tell a little story about a current leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, our Stake President, David Allen, and his beautiful wife Becky. I hope I don’t get into trouble.

This happened decades ago, in another ward across the city, when we were all still raising kids. Larry and I were the parents of four children by then, two of them teenagers. Well, teens can be a challenge for anyone as we all know, but we were raggedy converts trying to raise LDS teens. We had zero experience in what this looked like. None of the experiences we had growing up had any application here. In fact, there was only one thing we knew for sure…… the way we were raised was not going to work in this situation. It was an unsettling time for us as parents. Sometimes I felt really alone.

Well, our only son was about 16 at the time, and played on his high school varsity football team. I tried to talk him into something safer, like chess, but he would only shake his head at me and say, “Mom, you’re an idiot…football is my life.” He’d played every year and was now getting to be a sort of a big deal on his team. There were about 70 guys on the team roster, and Dane plus another boy from our ward were two of only three or four boys who were LDS. Big school, lots of peer pressure, overwhelming odds, scary times for Mom and Dad.

I remember those Friday nights….dusty bleachers, bright lights, screaming crowds, marching bands, cheerleaders, players getting injured and hauled off on stretchers, snow cones, and often David and Becky Allen. The Allens? Yes, the Allens.

David was our bishop at the time, crazy busy as bishops always are. Becky was a bishop’s wife, even busier than he was, raising little kids and building a home while David looked after the whole ward. I think you’d have to have been there to appreciate the sacrifices involved in both those heavy calls.

Back to the Friday night football games. So many times I’d be sitting in the bleachers talking with friends, when here would come Bishop and Sister Allen to say hello.

“What are you doing here?” I’d ask in surprise. “You’re kids are still little…..you don’t have to do this for a few years yet!”

“We wanted our boys to know that we’re rooting for them,” they’d say. “Tell Dane we said that he played a really good game.” After a few more words they’d be on their way.

Well, I know a few things about how precious time is for a young couple with kids and lots of responsibilities. I know that a Friday night out with just the two of you can be hard to come by. I know about babysitters and what they cost. I also know that a high school football game isn’t the most romantic spot one can imagine.

I also know that every single time I said to my son, “Brother and Sister Allen stopped by to tell you that you played a really good game.”

He would say, “Bishop and his wife came to my game? Really?” Then he’d look off thoughtfully into space for a few seconds. I could tell by the look in his eyes that this meant something to him, something important. And I always felt a little less alone as a parent when I saw it.

That’s a small thing, you may say, those Friday nights. And I say, “Yes, but you know what the scriptures say about small things.”

Anyway, it was some decades later when the phone rang and it was my son who said I should sit down.

“Oh, no, what’s wrong?” I asked frantically as I sat.

“Lisa and I are in the Stake President’s office and I’ve been called to be in the bishopric. Does it shake your faith?” he asked.

“No, Son.” I replied. “Well, maybe a little.” And then for some reason I began to remember those Friday night football games, and a busy bishop and his even busier, beautiful wife. I remembered that they always said to tell Dane, “Good game.” I remembered that it mattered to him that they came. I remembered that it mattered to me.

I will tell him. And, Brother and Sister Allen, thank you so much. Good game.