Saturday, May 18, 2013

Division of Labor

I sat in a chair, at the edge of the dining room table, idly clicking the remote to flip the stations between the Knick and Yankee games. It was hard for me to see everything clearly as I was stationed at the end of the living room, far from the television. But, this was a sacrifice I had to make in our household's division of labor.

While my wife pulled and pushed at the table, screwed in screwed up and then figured out, splintered, cramped, sweated and persevered, I watched and waited for the occasional directive. I got up from my seat to find the screwdriver with the largest head, returning with 4 items, 2 of which turned out not to be screwdrivers. On command, I raised the edge of the table slightly, only to be told it was not the top but the body that had to be elevated.  But mostly I sat, because that was the only role for which I was truly suited.

The table had been taken apart several days before by a friend who had come to work his magic on something called an extender that had begun to splinter from the years and the weight. Screws had been taken out in the process, and the top of the table removed, to allow his handiwork, the glue and the clamps to take full effect. Now, at least to me, it looked like my wife was attempting to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Holes and screws did not align. Slides no longer did what they were supposed to. It was to my trained eye an unsolvable jigsaw puzzle.

"Hurry", my wife shouted, "put the pillow under my head". She was in obvious distress lying on the floor, as she had been for many minutes, trying to get what appeared to be a square peg in a round hole. At another point, she asked me to get toothpicks, so she could do whatever it was that she was doing. She yelped in pain on several occasions, slithering on her back from one spot to another, only to have her calves or thighs rudely advise her that this was not the way it was intended for her to be moving about. I briefly rubbed her legs, while keeping an eye firmly fixed on the television.

In truth, I grew slightly annoyed that my loyalties and attention were being divided by my task. I mean, who in their right mind would spend over 2 hours on this endeavor?  In an alternate universe in which I could be of actual help in this project, I would have thrown in the towel after but a few minutes of frustration and failure. My fix-it friend would have been cursed for creating this mess, and an alternate solution (calling in paid labor) would have resulted.

Finally, after all my hard work, there was success. The last screw sat snugly in place, the sliders slid, the top once more firmly affixed . It was now towards the end of the baseball and basketball games and I was too tired from my efforts to do anything but head upstairs to bed.

I watched my wife in amazement throughout this evening, never giving up or giving in, never considering abandoning her assignment, never complaining, never losing her focus. I am referring to the overwhelming task of being married to me. The table was the easy part.

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