The Collar on the Shirt

I was hanging some of FD's shirts the other day, buttoning the top button on a green perma-press from Marshall's when I thought about one of the secrets of my particular marriage, it should live and be well.

You should live and be well was the blessing my father's mother gave me every single time I left from visiting her. In Poland, if a Jew said goodbye to another Jew, you never knew if it would be for the last time or not. There were Cossacks and pogroms, then Nazis, all kinds of irritants.

Maybe we should all think that way in general, that goodbye could be the last goodbye. We'd be nicer.

Back to the shirts. It's not like I'm so big on housework, and believe me, I take NO pride, whatsoever in the wreckage that amounts when I don't give housework any time, which is often. But FD and I do divide up the maintenance nicely.

Like the other day the back door jammed. It didn't just jam as in, jiggle-the-lock jam. It jammed as in, replace the whole blasted door jam. He jiggled, then forcefully shoved it, and it opened.

He got the top lock, the dead bolt to work just fine, but the bottom lock didn't work at all.

I said, Leave it for now.

He said, We need a new door.

There's a story behind the door but I can't tell it without embarrassing someone so you don't get to hear it. Enough said.

Anyway, FD replaced the door yesterday but it needed planing and wouldn't close. He had to leave for a dinner and didn't get home until late. Last I saw him he was sacked out in front of the tube zombie-like, ostensibly watching The Godfather with Little One around midnight.

He came to bed around 4:00 a.m. I asked Why so late, and he said he had the choice either to complete the job or to sleep on the sofa to guard us from intruders. I dozed off again, feeling guilty that he felt he had to get the job done.

Anyway, this morning I woke up to make the coffee and inspect the door. He did a fabulous job. Unbelievable. But I felt really guilty, like I said. It didn't have to be done last night, really. I had hinted earlier that I didn't want him to do the job at all because I was worried it wouldn't get done.

(People in construction know that doors are hard).

But he felt it had to be done, either because he was in the mood to do it (probably) or because he didn't want me worrying about home invaders. Or maybe he worries about home invaders. Anyway, at that point that the new door hung but didn't close he couldn't let it wait. If he had he might have heard, I told you so, even though I'm not a big I told you so sort of person.

I think that when I saw the unfinished product that I did say something like, You're not leaving it like that, are you?!

Our house is, actually, Fort Knox, not that there's anything worth taking. And the home invader dreams are a thing of the past so you'd think I could relax. But no. Old neural connections die hard if at all, and I'm in the habit of checking locks and windows, alarms and things.

Anyway, he finished the door and it looks great! I can still smell the smell of sawdust, which I like.

As I said, years ago I volunteered for Tide detail. We surely could have found a better laundress. There's a foreign film (they're always films, not movies), I think it's called My Beautiful Laundress, pretty good, take it out if you're in the mood for foreign. I could not find it when I searched the web, so it could be I'm totally making this up. There's My Beautiful Laundrette, but I don't think that's it. But maybe it is.

Anyway, My Beautiful Laundrette/Laundress I'm not.

Since I volunteered for the Tide detail early on in our marriage, I do the laundry. Even if we had help in the house I tried to do it because I don't have time to shop for clothes and it seems that most people who do laundry for you don't care very much how small the clothes end up as long as they're dry.

So FD mows the lawn and I do the laundry. He used to complain about how I did the laundry.


I didn't know about shirt collars. Or I should say, I refused to listen, had a mental block about shirt collars and would forget to button the top button of his shirts.

When there are a lot of shirts you get them out of the dryer quickly and onto hangars quickly so that the ones left in the dryer don't crush. I know you're supposed to grab one shirt and restart the machine right away, attend to that one shirt, hang it and grab another. But I hate hitting the on-off switch over and over again on huge appliances. Maybe it's an OCD thing with me or something.

I'm pretty sure my mom had a dryer that kept going even after you opened the dryer door. But I could be wrong. Now there's a cool feature. Why I never thought of looking for this feature when we bought our new one a couple of years ago (the 31 year old Sears Kenmore finally went the way of all things) I don't know.

Anyway, FD would spleen me about his shirts and I truly didn't understand why it was so incredibly important to button the top button of a man's shirt immediately or at all.

Then one day he put both hands on my shoulders so I had to pay attention and said,
Just listen. I'm going to tell you something.

A man's shirt is all about the collar. The wrinkles in my shirts, especially, don't matter. Men wear jackets and ties. People are squirting all kinds of bodily fluids on my lab coat, you know, which is why I wear one all the time.

And because I wear a lab coat all of the time the only thing anyone sees is the collar of my shirt. So the collar has to be perfect. The way to keeping the collar straight is to button it. So either we send my shirts to the cleaners or you button the top button or I do them myself.
So of course I said, Do them yourself. (Nah, I didn't say that!)

The point of all of this is that really, if you are doing something for your partner and your partner tells you that it should be done a certain way, then why not do it that way, even if the rationale isn't clear to you. Do what's within reason, obviously.

Is this code? Does everything have to be code?

Now. You shouldn't have to wait twenty years to learn exactly the rationale for doing something a certain way. I'm sure FD will tell you that he tried to tell me many, many times but I was hard-headed and didn't listen, and that may be true.

For sure it's true.

And at the end of the day I'm glad he didn't listen to me about the door, you know? I initially said Don't do it, and he did do it, and I do feel a lot safer.

Did I tell you I'm surrounded by barking dogs, on both sides of my house?

FOUR, count them, FOUR to the west of us, and TWO, count them, TWO to the east?

And do I complain about the barking? You bet. No one's ever happy.

copyright 2007, therapydoc


Maybe you should call your neighbors and offer to do the barking for them.


("We love you TD, oh yes we dooooooo...")
therapydoc said…
Oh, they're great. I'm really not complaining, just having some fun.
Juggling Mother said…
My euatiful Laundrette is about inter-racial gay relationships in working class Britain. i doubt it would be much help to you:-)

All non USA movies are films. That's what everyone else in the world calls them:-) We go to see a flm in a cinema, regardless if where it is made. You lot watch a movie in a thetare so you can call it culture;-)

new to your blog, so i'm off to nose around some older posts and get a feel before I comment on anything personal:-)
therapydoc said…
Welcome Juggling. Hope you enjoy yourself.
therapydoc said…
Oh, and did i mention that one of my sons can juggle Devil Sticks? With fire?
Guilty Secret said…
Hi I have just discovered your blog and have to say I am loving it! The tale about buttoning up the shirt collar I can really relate to (well, similar issues anyway!). Thanks, can't wait to keep reading...
therapydoc said…
GS, welcome. Thanks for the compliment.
Anonymous said…
This is a great story! It would be veeeeeeeeeery interesting to hear it from FD's p.o.v. too...
therapydoc said…
Yeah, but you can forget it. (I think. Right, FD?)
Dr. Deb said…
Barking dogs on both sides of the house would be so hard for me too! And I loved that movie. My Beautiful Launderette.
therapydoc said…
I'll bet that was the one.
Anonymous said…
I understand FD's hesitation... just want to say that you tell such great stories about your relationship and code and the cool ways that the two of you communicate and negotiate stuff... and it would be way cool (from a teaching/learning perspective) to get a 360. Maybe you two could do a blog duet!!!
therapydoc said…
I never say never.
therapydoc said…
I guess what I should have said is that what's important is that I know his side of the story.
Anonymous said…
Yeah... that goes without saying :-D it's the glue (cement?) that holds you two together! I was just suggesting that from a teaching perspective, since you are already sharing the stories, it would be great for others to see the give and take -- to hear the voice of the other person. When you see couples do this in a professional setting, it really blows people away!

That said, your stories are great as they are. I always told my kids it's easy to get married.. it's hard to stay that way! Please keep those stories coming!
I had to laugh at your post! I haven't quite gotten my act together on the carnival "Life Lessons for Military Wives"; I only had two submissions including yours, so I am trying it again for September. If you know of anyone else who'd like to contribute, please pass on the word...anything that they think would benefit a military wife who basically is a single mom a lot of the time and lives a nomad's existence with all the moving!
therapydoc said…
That's too bad. I thought vets would like something about shirt collars. It made sense at the time.

Let's stay in touch.

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