Published on October 5th, 2017 | by Richard Black0
Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell
A few years ago, before we were married, I made a rule. The gist of the rule was that no one in the house should ask a question to which they wouldn’t want an answer and, over the course of more than a decade, it’s worked beautifully…at least on my part.
It turns out that there’s quite a lot that goes on in home ownership, parenthood and life in general that I really don’t want to know about and I’m comfortable with that. Strange sounds upstairs, odd of pools liquid on the floors, a strange mound in the yard that might or might not contain a body…these are prompts for questions I don’t want answers to and frankly a recipe for marital strife.
My wife Laura, however, has yet to take the rule to heart and there isn’t a question she isn’t willing to ask no matter how unpleasant the answer might be. When our daughter was born and stuck in her vaginal canal the doctors announced that they’d have to do a C-Section. Upon hearing the news Laura asked how they’d be able to perform the procedure with our daughter stuck so far down in her lady parts. The moment I heard the question I sighed and waited for the inevitable “we’ll push her back up,” followed by my wife’s gut wrenching sobs.
Recently we’ve been going through the final stages of a bat remediation project and there have been a lot of questions I’ve chosen not to ask. If you’ve never had to remove a few dozen bats from your attic then I’d highly encourage you to avoid the process altogether and simply move to another home. Divorce is also a moderately less painful option. To make matters worse I’m also managing the project which comes with it’s own set of problems.
My wife owns and runs a very successful business and she’s very…particular about how certain things should be done. I’m often asked why I don’t work for or with my wife and, when questioned, I respond with the following story.
Many years ago I volunteered to create a logo for my wife’s company. The project took a good three months and the money we spent on marriage counseling would have been better served in hiring someone else to design the logo. Laura agreed with the design I’d created within a few weeks but coming to terms with the color was another issue. I had to cope with vague feedback like “can you make it more punchy?” and “I don’t know what color I’d like but that’s not it.”
I asked for examples. I provided examples. Nothing worked. At one point after designing the logo in 42 different colors I sent Laura the proofs at 11:00 at night in the hopes that she was asleep. She wasn’t and after giving each example a review she walked downstairs to tell me in explicit detail what was wrong with each and every one. I regulated our conversation on the subject to email shortly thereafter.
To be honest I’m not even sure how the project ended. It turns out that heavy drinking has a few benefits. Suffice it to say that ever since then I’ve been a little hesitant to take point on a project with my wife. I imagine Steve Wozniak felt the same when he was at Apple with Steve Jobs.
Management styles aside there have been, as I think I’ve mentioned, a lot of questions when it come to our current project. There are a number of questions that come to mind when it comes to bat remediation and being the lead on the project I’ve decided not to ask them. I assume that the men removing the bats and the ensuing…evidence…are professionals who will take care of the problem, give me a bill and then go on about their lives.
Laura however has other ideas. She wants to know everything despite my “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and has questions…so many questions that I would never ask.
“How many bats were there?” was the first one Laura posed.
“Where were they?” was the second.
“I heard that there was evidence of mice. Are they still there?” was another and followed up by “Where were they nesting?” and “how do we know if they’re gone?”
And because I’m a good husband I asked our contractor those very questions. Because I’m an even better husband I even gave my wife our contractor’s answers.
“About three dozen bats,” I replied, “they were in the dormers and they’re all gone…completely and totally all gone.”
“The mice?” my wife asked and, I’m not proud of this, but that’s when I offered to make my wife a martini.
I mentioned that there’s good news and bad news about the mice and then I gave Laura another martini…and then another…and another until she passed out.
Don’t judge, or maybe, feel free to do so. I’ve learned a few things as a husband. One of them is that the worst thing you can tell your wife when she’s freaking out is to “calm down”. The only other is that 11:00 at night is not the time to bring up the fact that there used to be five hundred pounds of mouse shit in the attic insulation.
Knowledge is a double edged sword and there are certain things than cannot be unlearned. Now if you’ll forgive me I need to feed my wife a few more martinis through a feeding tube in preparation for the questions I hope she won’t ask tomorrow.