Yesterday I mentioned that my post was going to be in three parts, and there ended up being only two parts, for two reasons. The first reason was that I kind of got carried away talking about how I was going to talk about The Wet Brush, which is kind of the problem here – it’s never what I want to talk about that ends up being so many words, but me talking about what I’m going to talk about, and the lead in to what I’m going to talk about, and the things I think about that are kind of related to what I’m going to talk about that add so much bulk on to what could be an average size blog post. What does an average size post weigh in at these days, anyway? What are all the kids doing? 1200 words? 1500? I don’t know. Probably somewhere in there, right?
And then the second reason that I had to abandon part three was that there was a whole other development to the story when Phil came home for lunch. I was initially already planning to write this little bit up, like I usually do, “Hey, listen to this ridiculous thing my husband does,” and wrap it up with something like, “So, at what point does he cross the line from thoughtless knob into total inconsiderate ass captain?” BUT THEN. He came home for lunch. And not only was he wearing the team uniform of the New Mexico Inconsiderate Ass Captains, he proceeded to break one of our number one marriage rules or possibly THE NUMBER ONE rule of our marriage, thus DOUBLE SEALING his place on the losing side of this situation, which is pretty much my favorite kind of thing to have happen.
We have this really big expandable baby gate that we bought when we were still living in Arizona and had this weird half wall situation around the den that we used as an office. We had tried several different gates and sent them back because we needed to find one that was the right combination of wide enough to stretch across the very big opening, but also short enough of go up against the very low wall we were dealing with on one side. We ended up with this Safety 1st Wide Doorways Fabric Gate. It’s 27″ high and expands up to 60″ across and it can be a little tedious to install, since you have to twist these little knob thingers on the top and bottom on one side to pressure mount it to the wall firmly. That worked for us, though, since we were renting and didn’t want to install anything permanently.
We kept it across the opening to the office area for awhile, but eventually moved it to separate the two halves of the split floor plan house, mounting it in the normal-sized doorway between the kitchen and the playroom. This effectively divided the house into a dog side and a Penelope side, with the kitchen, back living room and our bedroom for the dogs and the big playroom, two other bedrooms, and office area for Penelope. As an aside, I will tell you that that is not how this new house is laid out and the dogs are not pleased with the new development. (“Stop. Stop. STOP. HE IS RUNNING AWAY BECAUSE HE DOESN’T LIKE YOU.“) We kept it up almost constantly, because it served the dual purpose of keeping Penelope out of the kitchen and keeping the dogs out of the playroom (Brinkley is a toy-eater). Sometimes, though, we let it down, because we have a toddler, and we have dogs, and toddlers and dogs just go together, most notably when you don’t feel like getting out the vacuum, so you just let the cleaning crew rumble through.
Phil was usually the one to let the gate down, in the evenings, after Penelope had gone to bed (which means after I had also gone to bed, because I go to bed when Penelope goes to bed, no exceptions). In the mornings, I’d wake up and the gate would be back in place. Or it would look like it was back in place. If you’ll recall, I mentioned that the gate is 27″ high – convenient for the space we were looking to fill at the time, and I guess a convenient height for dogs and toddlers. Now, pardon me if I’m about to be crude, but it’s also the exact height of my crotch. I can’t just step comfortably over the gate. It touches. I can’t physically get over the gate without brushing it. With my business. It’s not that I’m very short – I mean, I’m short, but just regular short. You might meet me some day and note that I’m not particularly tall but it’s not shocking. You wouldn’t have to make a mental note to yourself to not stare or anything. I’m just regular not tall. I know that bringing up lack of height on the Internet is dangerous because it can quickly turn into a faux-humility pissing contest over who is the most petite and what you can’t reach on the shelves and whose crotch touches what but I will tell you now I don’t consider height or lack of height to be anything. And that is not a partial sentence, I meant to stop right there. I’m just stating a fact for this story, I am a regular short person. It’s not a thing I wish to bond over.
The problems would arise when I would step over the gate I assumed was placed correctly only to find that, no, in fact, it was not. It was placed BY PHIL. So in a perfect world, gate placed correctly, I’d step one foot over, brush, and place my other foot over. In the real world, gate placed BY PHIL, I’d step one foot over, brush, the act of brushing would DISLODGE the gate that was only half-assedly twisted against the wall, knocking it into the leg that was already over, usually taking me to the ground with it.
The first time? Weird. The second time? Weird. The third time? I’D CAUGHT ON, PHIL.
“Dude. If you take the gate down, you’ve got to put it back on tightly.”
“Uh, no, because it comes down and knocks me over.”
Fourth time. Fifth time.
“Phil. Seriously. The gate.”
“I do put it back on tightly.”
“I was carrying her lunch. I threw it all over the playroom.”
“Sorry, but I put it back on this time.”
“No, THIS is putting it back on.”
Six. Seven. Eight.
“PHIL. COME ON.”
“I get it. Okay. Sorry.”
And then we moved to New Mexico. Before we moved here, we talked a bit about the layout of the new place and where we were going to put the gate, and if we wanted to get a permanently installed gate, since the new place has stairs. Also, Penelope can just force this gate down now, no matter who screws it in, but she knows she’s supposed to leave it up when it’s up. It’s more of a symbolic gate where she’s concerned, but it does still keep the dogs where we want them. For now, we’ve decided to keep it at the bottom of the stairs, in front of the bottom step. We keep the dogs downstairs during the day, to keep Brinkley from running up and down the steps. In addition to his current injury, he’s also almost 10 and does have arthritis. We initially even considered keeping them downstairs entirely and went with that for a few days, but I thought they were lonely and we started letting them sleep upstairs at night pretty quickly. In the morning, Phil takes the dogs and usually Penny, if she’s awake, downstairs to eat breakfast and he replaces the gate. I leave it up for the rest of the day and it comes back down at night when everyone comes up.
Incredibly boring picture of the scene of the crime.
Yesterday, I came downstairs with Penelope and went to step over the gate, as I do – you know, step, brush, step – only to enjoy my first New Mexico ass-over-tea kettling courtesy of the crotch gate. Step, brush, CRASH. It was not even half-assedly pressure twisted to the wall. I don’t even know if it was leaning against the wall. I swear, it was hovering there. Just balanced. Like he spent time and effort achieving some miracle of physics specifically to screw with me, so I’d end up with my face in the carpet. Why? Why, Phil? We haven’t even been here long enough for you to set up any hidden cameras. Why? Why do you do this?
I immediately started composing part three of yesterday’s post in my mind. What I was thinking was something along the lines of what I said about – when does someone cross the line from thoughtless knob to inconsiderate ass captain when it comes to something you’re asking them to do for you? See, I know that Phil really seems to think he tightens the gate enough. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t at all. When I put the gate up, I can safely step over it without it budging at all. It takes effort – I have to get down on my hands and knees to tighten the knob on the bottom or the lower half of the gate will swing freely, which loosens the top half. That’s why it’s not tight when Phil puts it up – he tightens the top knob, but he doesn’t bother with the lower one. Because it’s a pain in the ass. I know it is.
The first couple of times I fell, I brought it up to him nicely. Please tighten the gate properly, because I don’t know if you know this, but my crotch. It touches.
The next few times, I was annoyed, but I still brought it up pretty kindly. Dude. I ride low to the ground. You’ve got to tighten that gate.
The gate was still loose and still causing issues. Is he not getting it? Phil. I am physically being knocked to the ground. My body. My person. It is hitting the floor. Please. The gate.
And that’s where I was at lunchtime yesterday. I was going to pose that question to you yesterday. Has Phil crossed the line yet? Is his refusal to take an extra admittedly pain in the ass step to do something properly for my benefit alone (I assume his business makes no contact) over the line into inconsiderate ass captain territory yet?
HE CAME HOME FOR LUNCH.
I was making Penelope a quesadilla and I couldn’t find my piranha pizza cutter, also known as the best pizza cutter I have ever owned (I’ve owned three, which I think is enough). It was nowhere, so I was furious, because Phil has a habit of just putting things wherever, which he promised he wouldn’t do in this new place. I know that if I give a shit about where things go, putting them away should be my job, but still. There’s a line. And that line is put my piranha pizza cutter somewhere where I can find it when I need to cut a quesadilla, especially when I’m already pissed at you. (Side note: It turns out Phil doesn’t know where it is, either, which is a nightmare.)
He came into the kitchen, and I was stomping around, slamming drawers, and immediately started bitching about the pizza cutter. When he said he didn’t know where it was, either, I calmed down a bit, but I was already worked into a good huff, so I wheeled around and said, “THE GATE. I FELL. AGAIN. INTO THE LIVING ROOM. YOU NEED TO TIGHTEN THE GATE. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.”
And that’s when it happened. The biggest crime you can commit in our marriage, the number one rule, the thing we Do Not Do, the ultimate in unfairness: Retaliatory Anger.
“I DO TIGHTEN IT.”
“I TIGHTEN IT PLENTY ENOUGH FOR ME!”
“Plenty enough for you? The fact that I’m still falling over it means there’s obviously a problem with your method.”
“WELL I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO.”
“What do you suggest I do, Phil? GET A VAGINA LIFT?”
At that point I went upstairs and I know it probably looked like I was storming away angrily, but I wasn’t, because I already knew I had double won. I didn’t need to be convinced I was in the right about the gate, because I am. I just am. He’s wrong. On top of that, I know I’m in the right about the gate, I brought it up to him, and he came back at me aggressively and angrily in response. Oh hell no. Not in our marriage. We may be weird and we may keep score and we may be locked in a lifelong battle to the death for superiority, but there is no retaliatory anger allowed. If I get mad at him, or he gets mad at me, if one of us has a legitimate beef with the other one, it is absolutely forbidden to get angry in response. No. Nope. You cannot get mad at me because I am mad at you for something you did. Is that a reaction that people do have? Sure is. That’s a thing that happens. That’s a thing that used to happen a lot in this relationship. That is also a thing We Do Not Do Anymore. So if you’re counting, that’s a Double Win for me.
Before he left, he came back upstairs in a much more docile mood, clearly having the experience to know it’s best to give in quickly and completely and let me beat my win out of you rather than holding on to pride, heading back to work, and letting me simmer on some kind of revenge for the rest of the day.
“I will try to tighten the gate from now on.”
“Thank you. You know, it’s not my fault I have a low crotch.”
“And I did approach you very kindly the first four thousand times.”
“It’s not like when you used to leave the shower head pointed so it hit me in the face every time I turned it on. That was just annoying. I keep falling down.”
“So it’s understandable that I would come at you aggressively after reminding you so many times and you seemingly not caring enough to make an effort.”
“It really is.”
“I’m not an asshole for that.”
“You’re kind of an asshole for not making an effort and letting your wife fall over and over, really.”
“And then, when I finally get angry about it, which you agree is understandable, it’s not really fair of you to get angry back.”
“You’re kind of an asshole for that.”
“So you’re kind of a double asshole.”
“And I’m not one at all.”
“No, I am the asshole.”
Anyway, it turned out I actually didn’t need you at all yesterday, Internet.