Last Wednesday evening I found my partner, may she live a long life, sprawled on the couch watching TV. I approached her and asked if we could straighten up the living room a little before the company arrived. She slowly lifted her head and gave me a long, hard look. I have no way of describing that look exactly, but if I was an Indian I would buy a flute. “What company?”
I once read that in times of anxiety the body produces larger than usual amounts of adrenaline so that if someone needed a container lifted at that moment, they could have called me up. Ten days ago I told her that I invited Ronen and Randy who have had us over three times. They always come with the Sesslers who also told Orna about the evening and she doesn’t move without the Yitzhakis.
“You did not tell me,” ‘she who should live a long life’ said. I said I did. She said I did not. I said I swear that I did. She said that when I lie, my eyelid twitches.
Irrelevant, I said.
Besides I did tell you, I said, and even sent you an SMS to remind you because I know who I am dealing with here. ‘She who should live a long life’ lifted one eyebrow; she has that talent, and said, “If you sent me an SMS message, it’ll still be in your cell phone.”
I got my phone from the table and went through ‘sent’ mail. Twenty seconds later I found the message, black on Nokia: “Reminding you, the Felds, Sesslers, Orna and the Yitzhakis are coming over Wednesday at 9 pm. Kisses.” Moreover there was a return message from her from the same day: “Thanks Putzi, I’ll set things up.”
I, by the way, have no idea who Putzi is and I am sure she did not to call a manly guy like me by such a name.
I was, if I may humbly say, pretty happy with the way things went. So, okay, I said expansively to ‘she who should live a long life,’ nothing lost. We argued a little. I was right. Now come and give a kiss to Rambo (my real nickname) and let’s straighten up the living because if I remember correctly there used to be a floor under the pizza crusts the kids left behind.
I got that look again.
“They are your guests,” she said, “and anyway who invites people in the middle of the week? They will sit here until 2 in the morning, you’ll get drunk again and Ronen will start yelling about how Israel won the war and he’ll wake up Yaeli. And who gets up with the kids at 7 am? You?! Why do I have to do everything in this house?
I ask readers to pay attention to the turning point in the plot: The argument has not ended. It is only beginning.
The reason for this is that I made the classic male mistake. We assume that if we have a fight with someone, the important thing to do is prove that we are right. The challenged male brain assumes that if it turns out that your facts are more correct than those of the other side, then they will have to admit defeat and the ordeal is over.
But this only works in one case – if the other side has a man as well. If you examine history, you will find that conflicts between men always wound up dealing with facts. Here is a quick example from the 11th century.
Crusader Knight: In the name of God and Jesus, his messiah, get off the bridge.
Warrior for Salakh A Din: In the name of Allah and Mohammed his prophet, I will not retreat!
Crusader Knight: Look, I have this really large sword.
Warrior for Salakh a Din: Wow, I just remembered. I left my wallet at home. Gotta go.
But with women, at least the ones I have married – it doesn’t work that way. If he had a drop of sensitivity, thinks ‘she who should live…’ to herself, maybe he would notice that I am completely exhausted after working all day and dealing with the kids.
Look at him, standing over me with his cell phone in hand and showing me SMS messages from a week ago. The only thing he cares about is proving that he remembers the guests and I forgot. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how his memory would work after a parents meeting with 32 mothers who didn’t stop yelling at each other only to discover that I sat in a puddle of chocolate pudding in my new jeans.
You know what, clean the living room by yourself for once and that’s not the only thing you are going to do alone over the next few nights.
The last sentence by the way, was spoken aloud.
The tragedy of the struggle between the sexes stems of course from the fact that she is completely right. At least that is what every woman who has just read the last paragraph thinks. Intelligent people know that life isn’t always in black and white, but shades of gray with a matching belt and new high heels. The facts are secondary; their feelings are what important.
It’s just that men are a little confused by this. In our oh so narrow world, if Beitar Jerusalem obliterates Hapoel 3-0 there is small statistical probability that the Hapoel players would announce they won the game because the Beitar players should have taken into consideration that they are weaker players.
Wouldn’t you know that it was at that precise moment that I saw the light? There is one thing that men do better: purposely lie so that they will be caught and it’s all that women want, that we will look them in the eyes and lie. They know we are lying but it’s much kinder that way than all the really appalling and irrelevant facts of the situation. “What a sweetheart”, they muse to themselves, "look how he is trying just for me.”
Or as I said to my partner, forget it, I’ll call everyone and tell them not to come. It’s more important to me that you feel that this home is your sanctuary. In any case you work too hard and I don’t help enough with the kids. You do not deserve these onslaughts at the end of the day.
She gave me a long look, again. Oh, it’s just that the parents meeting was annoying, she said, come on Putzi, five minutes and the living room will look like new.