Earlier this year, despite the gloomy economic climate and my general worthlessness as an employee, my company offered me a contract extension to remain overseas for a few more years, and I accepted. That evening, I came home and told Wifey the good news.
"Guess what? I got a three-year extension! We're staying, baby!"
I knew there would be trouble when she said to me, "You know, I agreed to come over here for three years, and now you've signed an extension to keep me here for eight. I'm starting to feel like I was lied to."
So, sometime later, I was presented with a list of demands, eight things that she said were absolutely required for her to be happy over the term of the extension.
Like any good husband, I knew that only half the list really mattered. See, if I did all of them, then she'd just think up more stuff. If I didn't do any of them, there'd be hell to pay. If I did half of them, though, I'd have some bargaining chips when my company offers me another extension in three more years.
But the trick is that I needed to figure out which half of the things were important, and do those, and then ignore the other stuff.
Based on the age-old adage that there's no such thing as a stupid question, I decided simply to ask her "Any chance you'll tell me which of these are important and which ones I can ignore? 'Cause this list is kind of long."
Based on the dick punch I quickly received, the age-old adage is, at best, misleading.
But being a clever husband, I honed in like a laser-beam on the ones that I thought were probably important. Well, after I could focus my vision again I did.
The first item was easy: BUY SOME ANTIQUES. I figured she'd find it a pleasant surprise if I resolved one item immediately, so the day after getting the list I nicked on down to the second-day-bread store, purchased a loaf of week-old rum raisin loaf, and that was that. Because when bread ages past its sell date, it's an antique, right?
Based on the dick punch I received, though, she didn't mean it in quite that fashion.
So I pawned the kids off on a friend, took her off on a whirlwind tour of an antique store, bought something really old and probably too expensive, and crossed the first item off the list.
The second item on her list was also easy: GET MORE STORAGE SPACE IN THE GARAGE. So I loaded the family into the car and went to Ikea, since they're full of stuff that you can easily construct to store the mountains of crap that fills up your garage and turns your house into a fire hazard.
At least, Ikeas in a normal country are like that. Our local Ikea was, sadly, lacking in any shelf stuff. They had all the six-inch-high beds you could ever want, though, just in case you've got some deep-seated desire to sleep very close to the floor.
So we ended up going to Brico, which is what K-Mart would be if it were run by Lawn Gnomes dedicated to slaughtering all of humanity by selling them dangerous and difficult-to-assemble items from inside a warehouse that smells like pee.
Okay, the "smells like pee" part K-Mart already has down, but you get the point. Miraculously, though, we found two incredibly heavy metal shelves that would do the trick, and I got them loaded into the car with only a partial hernia.
We got them home, and quickly I had not only assembled them but I'd cut my thumb from webbing to nail via this cool spiral that bled profusely enough that one shelf is known as "daddy's extra digit."
But they're up, the garage is neater than it ever has been, and another item was crossed off the list.
Advantage: Plebian, again!
The third item on the list was so laughable that when I saw it, I thought for a moment that it was some trick on her part to lull me into a false sense of security. But no, there it was: TRIM THE *@$&! TREE!!!
This combined two of my passions: using an obscure tool and destroying stuff. I practically raced out of the house when I saw this one with my long-handed overhead tree saw in hand. Ten minutes later I'd practically denuded the darn thing. No dick punch even necessary!
When I got back inside, I grinned at her. "I don't know why I never did that before," I said. "That was pretty fun!"
Note to self: after Wifey complains about something for three years, when you finally resolve it, don't admit that it wasn't a pain, or you might get a dick punch.
If you're keeping track at home, once I could stand and breathe under my own power, the score was now Plebian 3, Wifey 0.
The fourth item, though, brought me up short with a feeling of dread in my stomach: FIX OUTSIDE LIGHT.
Listen, I've done a little wiring in the house. But I draw the line at fiddling around outside on a ladder in a country where it rains 98% of the time. So there's no way I was touching that one.
On to the fifth item: MORE QUALITY TIME TOGETHER.
"You mean naked quality time, or quality time like doing stuff with our clothes on?"
She just raised an eyebrow at me, so I went on to item six: WIRELESS INTERNET IN THE HOUSE.
WTF? What am I, the Verizon guy? I couldn't hook up wireless internet if my life depended on it. I'm also half afraid that the radiation from a wireless in-home network might cause lupus, or erectile dysfunction, which is probably what she wants anyways because I'm hung like a donkey on Viagra.
So I skipped on to item seven: BIGGER HOT WATER HEATER.
Yeah, not in a rented house, babe. I'll tell you what: as long as I'm upping the property value for the landlord, why don't I build on an extension and install a Jacuzzi?
So I finally arrived at item eight: GET STUFF FROM STORAGE LOCKER.
Now, if you read our vacation odyssey from two years ago, you might remember our trip to the Storage Locker of Doom. And you might recall Wifey's reaction to seeing the stuff in there . And you might recall my joy.
Apparently, though, this has worn off, because there are some "things" she wants from storage. I don't know what, and I don't want to know what. It's enough to realize that unless I want to risk irradiation, raise the property value of my rented house, or become a better husband, this is pretty much my last option.
Oh, sure, I could let her cash in my life insurance by electrocuting myself on the front step fiddling with the driveway light, but I'm not running for super-husband here. And I don't even park in the driveway, either, she does.
However, a devious plan formed in my mind: you know, if I were to arrange it so that Wifey went to the storage locker, leaving me behind, then she would have to fulfill this item on her list.
So I'd get one item off the list for free without having to do anything at all!
As you can imagine, that cinched the deal for me: storage locker here she comes!
I marched straight into my bosses' office six weeks later (hey, like I said, I'm not running for super husband) and presented it to him like this:
"Now that I'm gonna be here for eight years instead of three, is there any chance that my wife could go get some stuff out of our storage locker and have it shipped here?"
"Sure," he says. "We want her to be happy, you know."
When I repeated that to Wifey, her reaction was classic:
"Shit. If I'd known that, I'd have asked for more."
Oh, well. Live and learn, Wifey!
So this morning, I loaded Wifey onto a plane bound for America. Now it's just me and the kids for ten whole days while she works like a galley slave to cross an item off her own list.
Game, set, and match to Plebian!
Unless something goes wrong while I'm totally alone with the kids without Wifey, who typically takes care of managing them and is the only one in the house who knows where everything is and is the only one who can ever manage our son without getting so frustrated that she wants to break something over his head or swallow poison, whichever is closer at hand. Oh, and did I mention that the Girl is worried that she's about to start puberty and has already told me that she misses her "girl talks" with mommy and might have to have one with me?
I'm beginning to think there was a hole in my plan. And I'm right royally screwed if she doesn't come back in ten days.
I'll keep you (and Wifey, if she thinks to read the blog) updated on our progress…