Books, Ottomans, and Order

This week’s post by staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald gives a sweet example of maintaining harmony in the household.

A few days ago, I woke up to find that the book that my wife is currently reading was sitting on our Ottoman.

Hmmm, that’s strange, I thought to myself.  Every time I leave my book on the Ottoman, it ends up getting “put away,” and I usually end up getting a brief lecture about “picking up after myself.”  

It was possible that she simply got tired while reading on the couch and decided to go straight to bed without putting her book away.  I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and refrained from mentioning it to her that evening.

 

The next day, I woke up and found the same book still sitting there on the Ottoman, and I realized that she had not forgotten to put it away.  She was planning on keeping the book there until she was done reading it because it was more convenient.

I had defended my right to leave my books on the Ottoman on numerous occasions and cited “convenience” as one of my main arguments; yet time and again, she had denied me this right by appealing to her superior sense of orderliness.  By leaving my book on the Ottoman, she said, I was creating unnecessary clutter, which upset the order that she worked very hard to establish and maintain.

So, when I saw her book lying there on the Ottoman for the second morning in a row, my own sense of order was offended.

It seems as if a double standard has been established right here in our apartment, I thought to myself.   

 

In the spirit of maintaining a uniform standard, I decided I would put her book away for her.  Later that day, she asked me if I had seen her book.

With a smile, I told her, why yes I had seen her book, and did she know that she had left it out on the Ottoman the last couple of nights, and it really should be put away properly next time.

“Why didn’t you just leave it there?” she asked me.

“Well, you always put my books away for me when I leave them out on the Ottoman, so I figured I’d return the favor,” my smile widened.

She chuckled a bit, but didn’t say anything.  I knew I had her trapped and so did she, but I gave her a way out.

“I know, I know, I can’t leave my book on the Ottoman because if you let me do that, then I’ll leave my keys on the table and my slippers on the bedroom floor, and the whole house will be a mess.”

“That’s right,” she said smiling, “Give a man an inch and he’ll take a foot.”

“Fair enough,” I replied.

That night, before I went to sleep, I made sure to leave my book on the Ottoman just to see what would happen.  When I woke up the next day, it was still sitting on the Ottoman where I had left it, but sitting right next to it was my wife’s book.  I smiled.

Oh, the joys of being married, I thought.  I left both books sit there on the Ottoman—in the spirit of maintaining order.

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