The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve embraced being…. I’m going to call it “odd.” I can never remember whether I’m a “nerd,” a “geek,” some combination of both, or some other thing like a “doofus.” Whatever I am though, I’m it unabashedly. This isn’t necessarily because I’m overflowing with self-confidence or because I think nerds or geeks are more respectable now than before–I’m also not saying they’re not, for the record–it’s because I’m overflowing with “oddness” and have realized that I couldn’t really hide it if I tried. The parts of me that wanted to hide it were surrounded and smothered by the parts of me that were odd.
For example, I do math for fun. One time while I was at the store, I saw a product that claimed to use less packaging because the packaging was now a rectangular prism rather than a cylinder. Actually, let me pause there. I’m the sort of person who would read such a claim and be intrigued rather than bored. That’s probably enough to prove my point. However, I then came home, pulled out a pen and paper, and proved that the product was wrong. (This has, as far as I can tell, made no difference to the world at all. Also, yes I do math with a pen not a pencil.)
I don’t usually do complicated or important math–it isn’t as though I can do calculus in my head, or even on paper anymore, if we’re being honest–but I do become very enthusiastic about simple math. This brings us back to the story at hand.
My wife took me shopping, then took her time. I took some liberties, so that I wouldn’t take leave of my wits. (My wife takes a different view.) The store’s employees took exception though, so I took a new tack. Having already taken the path less traveled (because it was obstructed), I took heart and took on a new challenge: taking inventory of the tiles in which I’d taken an interest. (It case this wasn’t obvious, I like language in addition to math, albeit also in the manner of a doofus.)
Counting all of the floor tiles was more complicated than I’d envisioned however for three reasons. First, the tiles weren’t all the same size, and the pattern wasn’t particularly straightforward. Second, as I had already discovered, the clothing store had rather inconsiderately covered its floor with large clothing displays, almost as though they didn’t want the floor tiles to be the primary point of interest. Third, and what would ultimately cause the most difficulty, this is when my wife chose to interrupt me.
She called me over for a conversation in which at no point was I ever involved. I don’t mean that I wasn’t available or willing, I mean that I wasn’t needed. It went something like this:
Wife: “Hey, Honey, can you come here?”
[I walk over dutifully.]
Wife: “Do you like these trousers? I like the style–I’ve always wanted a pair like this–I’m just not sure they fit right. They’re a good price though. I suppose I could see if they have a larger size, but I used to wear this size. I have trousers this size at home. I don’t want to be a larger size. I just don’t think that these would be comfortable, and I’m not sure they look right. I mean, do you think they look too tight? I guess I can look at the larger size. Yeah, I’ll see if they have this one size up. Thanks!”
[She walks away. I stare confusedly at the space she used to occupy.]
I’m pretty sure she said all of that in one breath, too. She’d finished the whole speech and vanished before my brain successfully registered the first question. Now just to be clear, I entirely approve of my wife not involving me in conversations of that sort–it’s probably better for our marriage–but she ought to avoid the pretense of involving me; it’s disorienting and occasionally disastrous, as will shortly be revealed.
Somewhat nonplussed but thankfully distractible, I returned to my own more relaxing project. Unfortunately, it took longer for my wife to find identical but slightly larger trousers than it took for me to count every floor tile in the store. There was only one thing left for me to do: I needed to use my floor tile count to calculate the store’s area. (Isn’t that the obvious choice?)
I divided the tiles into categories, estimated the dimensions of the members of each category, then started multiplying. I think it was going pretty well. I might have had a future on some sort of bizarre, largely unnecessary, probably inaccurate survey crew. Then my wife called me again.
By this point however I had forgotten why I was actually in the store. As far as I was concerned, I was having fun and playing a game; my wife was interfering. Terrifyingly interfering! What if I forgot my numbers? I didn’t want that to happen, so I tried to brace myself mentally until she left me alone. I didn’t expect her to require much more from me than my physical presence, after all. I gave that grudgingly, but tried my best to ignore her, lest she spoil everything.
For the record, ignoring one’s wife is always dangerous.
To be continued….