A few weeks before our wedding, Fartbuster and I met with the minister for some perfunctory premarital counseling. In other words, we met her for dinner at Cracker Barrel so that she could put names with faces–it was not a highly formal religious service. Over our chicken and dumplings and mason jars of tea, we swapped small talk. Then I pulled out a copy of the ceremony that he and I had written so that we could run it by her.
She held up an elegant hand and said, “Let’s do a little bit of talking about marriage before we talk about the wedding per se.” OK. She asked us about trust and partnership and fidelity and communication styles. We had been together for five years at that point, and sharing an apartment for two, so this wasn’t new territory. He and I were MATURE–26 and 27. Well, at least we seemed to be in our own minds.
The minister buttered her corn muffin delicately and asked, “Do you feel comfortable when you fight with each other? Tell me about a time when you disagreed on something.”
Fartbuster and I swiveled our heads around to look at one another face to face, and in unison said, “The DUSTBUSTER.”
A few months earlier, Fartbuster had come home from the store with a Dustbuster. I was delighted at his determination to wage war against the cat hair tumbleweeds in our apartment. He unpacked the Dustbuster, showed me how it worked, and I rewarded him with a kiss for his efforts. Then it came time to charge it up. While I was putting the Dustbuster in the living room window sill, right next to an empty outlet, I heard him bumping around in the galley kitchen.
I poked my head into the narrow kitchen (there wasn’t room for both of us) and asked, “What are you doing?” He had a couple of screwdrivers and a mounting bracket laid out on the counter….right next to the stove top.
“I’m putting up the thing so we can hang the Dustbuster in here.”
“In the kitchen? Right next to where we cook? It will be dripping dust and cat hair all over the place!”
That’s when he presented his rationale: “It’s a small appliance, and small appliances go in the kitchen.”
I spluttered, “It’s a vacuum cleaner and vacuum cleaners go in the laundry closet! Or the pantry! We can even leave it in the window behind the curtains. But NOT next to the STOVE.”
And that was the moment that things took a turn for the…mature. He slammed the tools down on the counter and shouted, “IT ALWAYS HAS TO BE YOUR WAY!!! WHY DO WE ALWAYS HAVE TO DO IT YOUR WAY? I’M HANGING THIS DUSTBUSTER RIGHT HERE. PERIOD.”
Oh. Hell. Naw.
“My way?” I screeched. “I’ve given you three different options and you’ve given me ONE. One that’s STUPID. So who’s really insisting on having it their way?”
That fight went on for DAYS. Sniping, carping, bitching and moaning. That was the way we did things. After a while, we forgot to stay mad about it but the issue never got resolved. The Dustbuster and its charger stayed right there in the window sill until we moved six months after the wedding.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I know what I should have done. When a man gets into that “You’re not the boss of me” zone, there’s not much way to argue him out of it. Even with three well-reasoned alternatives, an installation diagram from the manufacturer, and a copy of Better Homes and Gardens “10 Clever Places to Hang a Dustbuster BESIDES the Kitchen!” you’re not going to win.
I should have kept my mouth shut, let him hang the Dustbuster over the stove, then served him plate after plate of spaghetti and hairballs until it was HIS IDEA to move the damn Dustbuster.
My wise friend, Susan, shared a great piece of advice about getting husbands to do stuff around the house: “You can either tell the TO do it or HOW to do it, but you can’t tell them both.” Of course this might be why there is a stack of lumber in her dining room.
So…I’m dying to know. Do any of you have a Dustbuster hanging over your stove?