MIKE GIBBONS’ MIKE’S LIFE: Want peace at home? Pick your battles
So there I was in the kitchen, busily covering my entire body with insect repellent, the “Pshhhhh” of the can covering me in protection.
I am one of the most delicious people on the planet to mosquitoes, and if I so much as think about going outside, enormous welts will pop all over my body on the mere thought of providing the blood sucking buffet for my neighborhood menaces.
From the other room, I heard, “What is that?”
A wave of panic hit me. “Uh-oh,” I thought. I knew where this was going. My first thought was to run outside as fast as I could and not respond. But my wife was too quick. “WHAT was that?”
I was busted. My wife has for years chided me on spraying bug spray in the house, even though I have argued that if I don’t apply it inside I will be thoroughly consumed the second I step outside. She has pointed out we have a garage.
“I’m putting on bug spray,” I said.
“In the kitchen? Where we eat? Where we cook? I’ve told you …”
This is where I would have been wise to acknowledge that spraying a big cloud of chemicals in our kitchen was, in fact, not the smartest move. But noooo. Big ol’ smart Mike had to instead counter with, “We use all kinds of chemicals in here. It doesn’t bother me.”
She continued on with such trivial facts as I was standing next to a bowl of fruit and it made the whole house stink and on and on and on with a bunch of things that, yes, were technically true and actually spot on. At that point, my 15 years of marriage kicked in. “You’re right. I should have gone outside.”
And that, good friends, is the basis for a happy marriage – know when to acknowledge that you messed up.
My wife and I are fortunate in that we argue very little. We’ve been together for nearly 20 years, and you don’t get that far by sticking to your guns on every little issue, especially when you are the one at fault during said issue.
I am hoping this tenet of happiness will one day win me the shoe battle. I have a fantastic superpower in which I can almost magically return both shoes in a pair to my closet each and every evening. The lone exception is my pair of sandals, which stay by the back door during most of the year. The other members of this house, however, like to shed shoes throughout the house, often in curious places. I am still not sure how my children so often leave shoes in different locations. It makes absolutely no sense to me that one tennis shoe will be in the den, while the other will be on a neighbor’s trampoline.
Oftentimes, this will be the go-to argument when I have nothing else valid to complain about. And, I will confess, I will often pick the worst possible times to bring it up. We’ll be getting ready to load up the car to go on a week’s vacation and I’ll see a lone flip-flop sitting under a chair, and I’ll pronounce, “How hard is it to keep two shoes together?”
And my wife will then respond, “Really? Right now is the time?”
So perhaps my beef is not as valid as the bug spray one. Spraying insect repellent in the house does pretty much fumigate whatever room you’re in, whereas not keeping shoes together is just the sign of a carefree attitude in life. One, I might add, that if left unchecked will lead to a life of chaos and disorganization that will one day find you living in a dumpster, wondering where you went wrong, even though in your heart of hearts you know that it all started with a lone shoe.
Invariably, when the shoe debate begins, however, I eventually decide this battle is not worth the time. I mean, I can spend my emotional energy getting worked up about shoes, or I could pick them up myself. Or, I could just not worry about it, as it really is, in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal.
Of course, if I really want to play hardball, I could face the issue head on: When I find a rogue shoe inside, I could spray it with bug spray.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, where he now lives with his wife and two kids. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.