Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Jigsaw is Up

I always knew my wife was smart. She’s an accomplished mathematician, a master statistician, and a wonderful teacher. She can even keep the official score at a baseball game. Also, she’s a whiz with whodunits. Here’s a typical one-hour murder mystery TV viewing experience with me and her:

Show begins:
Me – Glued intently to the screen
Her – Barely paying attention while playing on laptop and/or phone
5 minutes into show:
Her: “Bob did it.”
Me: “Who’s Bob? Did what?”

So, this weekend, when I discovered she was brilliant, it came as no surprise. It did come as a shock, however, when I realized she was using her powers for evil. She is brilliantly devious. I did not see that coming.

Truth be told, I can see now that she has been manipulating me for our entire marriage. I am sad to say I just figured it out this last weekend, but it’s all so clear to me now. My epiphany came on Sunday while I was on a ladder, 15 feet off the ground, painting our shutters.

Son Number One had a sleep-over at a friend’s house Saturday night, and I drove over to pick him up on Sunday morning. That was just the situation that my wife was looking for. In fact, I think my going to pick him up was no accident. The sleep-over itself might have been part of the master diabolical plan for all I know. Nothing would surprise me at this point.

I arrived back at the house with our son, and there it was. The setup. I have seen it before a hundred times, and it all seemed so innocent. The paint cans were out on the workbench in the open garage. The hand-held power sander was plugged into a 50-foot extension cord, strung out to the front yard. The extension ladder was extended, leaning up against the house at a funny angle. And there was my loving wife, standing below the ladder. Pretending to be just about to climb up.

We have three pairs of decorative window shutters on the front of our house. The lowest pair is easily 15 feet off the ground, and you have to walk up the steep concrete roof tiles to get to them. The other ones are higher, and can only be accessed directly from the ladder, leaned up against the house. It’s a toss-up which ones are more precarious to get to.

“Hi, honey. I decided I would paint the shutters today. It shouldn’t take me more than an hour. Do you think this ladder looks OK like this? I’m not really sure how to set it up to get up there. I’m a little nervous about it, really. That roof looks so steep and slippery. Oh, well, I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

I hadn’t even been out of the car for two minutes and I was standing on the steep, scary roof tiles, sanding the peeling paint off our decorative shutters. That was at 10:00 A.M.

It was at 5:00 P.M., when I was putting the first coat of paint on shutter number five of six, that it all became clear to me. Son Number Two had been hounding me from below all afternoon about helping him with a birdhouse project that he wanted to make out of Home Depot paint stir sticks. I kept putting him off, telling him I would help him when I was finished with the shutters. He was getting impatient, and it was a little hard to blame him, since he’s six years old and he’d been waiting for seven hours.

My wife, (probably feeling guilty, now that I can see it all so clearly), offered to help him with his project since I was tied up. Off they went to the garage, and up I stayed, paintbrush in one hand, ladder death-grip in the other. Ten minutes later he was back playing on the front lawn underneath me.

“Why aren’t you doing your project with your mommy? Did she have to go do something else?”
“No, we’re done already.”
“What do you mean? It’s only been ten minutes.”
“Yeah. She went really fast.”

I had some idea of what his project was going to entail, so I was very curious. Down the ladder I came, and when I looked in the garage, I knew immediately that I had been lied to for years and years. There, sitting on my workbench, was a birdhouse made out of paint stir sticks. By my estimation, at a minimum, she had used my back saw and miter box, brad nails, my cordless drill, my combination square, and the wood glue. There sat a bird house, firmly clamped in three of my bar clamps, letting the glue dry.

She never came out to ask me what tools to use. She never came out to ask me how to use the tools. She never came out to ask me where the tools were. She never came out to ask me anything. I didn’t even think she knew I owned bar clamps, let alone where they were or how to use them. But there it was. The evidence.

She’s handy!

Big deal, you say. She’s handy with tools. A lot of women are.

You don’t understand. For ten-plus years I’ve been tricked. Let’s say my wife wanted shelves put up in the bathroom. Did she ask me to put shelves up, letting me give input on design and schedule? No. She simply spread the shelf pieces and directions all over the bathroom, got most of the tools required for the job and some that were all wrong for the job, (on purpose, now that I can see it all so clearly), and then proceeded to ask me a question like, “Should I use the Sawzall or the claw hammer to make a hole in the wall for the shelf mount bracket?”

“What are you talking about? Neither. It should just screw into a stud. Let me see the directions.”

I was walking past the bathroom from my office to the kitchen when she asked me the question. Two and a half hours later, she’s getting home from the gym just about the time I’m finishing hanging the last shelf.

That scenario, in one form or another, has been happening for our entire marriage, but it took me until this past weekend, seven hours into a painting project I never consciously started in the first place, to realize what has been going on. I am a grown man, fully capable of making my own decisions, and I woke up that day having no intention whatsoever of painting shutters. Yet there I was.

It was then and there that I realized I have been continuously tricked into doing home improvement projects against my will for years now. Projects that she, herself, was more than capable of completing. The birdhouse was masterfully-built proof. She has been feigning incompetence this whole time! My wife has been manipulating me like a puppet on a string. She is an evil genius.

Oh, well. I guess it’s no big deal really. I mean, the shutters do look good, and the home improvement projects are few and far between. I’m just glad she doesn’t have that kind of manipulative power over me with anything else!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. I just heard the buzzer on the clothes dryer. I have to get the clothes out and fold them right away. They’re too hot for my wife’s fingers when they’re just out of the dryer, but you have to fold them when they’re that hot or else they wrinkle permanently and you have to throw them away.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen

Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
Go to today and get your copy of My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh, Marc’s exciting new children’s book. Get ready for a wild rhyming adventure!


  1. Amazing... I have an evil genius boyfriend just like that... he says he loves to cook, but never seems to be around when the deed needs to be done... I wonder if they know each other and have compared notes :)

  2. I think there is a network of them, but up until now I thought it was exclusive to conniving wives. This goes deeper than we thought...

  3. OMG... He must have consulted your wife and figured out the jig was up... he cooked dinner last night! What's next, the zombie apocalypse? :)

  4. I hope not. I'm not fully prepared yet for an apocalypse of any kind. Glad you finally got dinner!!