After a few years of marriage, the male has learned most of The House Rules – as set forth by The House Frau – intended to create sensible boundaries around those issues where violation most likely would lead to annoyance and potential confrontation. Among these rules are Issues of Safety (Thou shalt not leave the toilet seat in the full upright position.), Communication (Thou shalt call when expected to be late for supper or when missing an important ETA.), and Household Efficiency (Thou shalt not wear shoes on the white carpet.).
There are others of course; required, defined, and implemented based on the peculiarities of each union and living situation. And there are those guidelines, never actually set forth because they are considered as obvious and universal as The Laws of Nature.
The problem with unspoken rules though is that they assume everyone has the same perspective, appreciation, and interpretation of what is natural, what is necessary, what is universal. And this is where I stumbled.
It all happened innocently enough, as do many disputes. I was cleaning out my side – the small side – of the closet … a task much-needed but never relished. As I filled a few bags with clothes no longer worn, I contemplated space to store – temporarily – the cold-weather sweaters and sweatshirts put aside for yet another Summer in dark, stuffy storage. My incursion was intended to be only temporary. (So help me, God!) So I furtively eyed the DeMilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separated our respective clothing. The male from the female … The utilitarian from the decorative … The barbarians from the richly appointed Romans …
As any married man can appreciate, the overwhelming bulk of closet turf goes uncontested to the female. Of our roomy, walk-in closet I currently control perhaps 20%. My dearest wife on the other hand, controls 67% of the hanger rod capacity and 75% of the overhead shelf and floor space!
How this ever became to be a universally accepted practice most likely goes back to the first cave-dwelling female-male union. Zog, the Neanderthal just turned around one day to find his stuff piled neatly in a corner, while Uba’s decorative animal skins were spread out neatly along the other three walls of their walk-in grotto. And another of those universal Natural Laws was created!
Smart, modern married men learned to begrudgingly accept this. You concede the closet, knowing there will be other, more important issues on which to man the barricades.
What I failed to appreciate was that the Female of the species will protect her spaces as though they are nuclear missile sites. To take liberties can turn out like those stories of innocent hikers happening upon a momma grizzly with her cubs, an innocent walk in the woods turns into a mauling in the blink of an eye.
So the reaction to any incursion was predictable, had I not been so oblivious to the danger.
But in point of fact, I was only seeking perhaps 12-15 inches of temporary rod space … And only until I could transfer my stuff to an out-of-the-way locale. Appropriately reckless, I made my move; pushing aside light and breezy female garments, replacing them with my heavy cold-weather mangear.
The reaction did not take long. But there was no mauling, no shot across the bow, no need to search for my launch codes. I returned later to find my stuff simply pushed back across the DMZ; the border incursion clearly recognized and just as clearly pushed back across the long-established border.
But nudge that I am, I pushed it back. And that’s when I received that proverbial shot across my bow.
“What are you doing up in the closet, sweetie?”, asked My Gentle Lady.
“Huh?”, my usual “Who? Me?” response.
“Don’t play dumb. You’re hogging my closet space.”, countered My Wily Cohabitator.
“Oh, I just need the space for a little … “, I attempted to …
“No, no , no … You have your stuff all spread out there. You have plenty of room to hang them on your side.”, countered My Precious Prosecutor.
“Well, I just wanted a ….”, I stammered.
“Move ’em or lose ’em, honey!”, suggested General Schwarzkopf, her eyes steely, her mind fingering her launch codes.
Lesson learned and humbled, my guys limped back to the safe side of the DMZ; knowing only that their Obtuse Leader had put them in harm’s way for no apparent good reason.