Admissions to level the playing field

Posted Sept. 13, 2009, at 6:17 p.m.

I spend a great deal of time making fun of my good-natured husband, Dustin. Maybe you’ve noticed. I keep a file of letters from readers expressing their concerns that I’m too hard on Dustin just to remind myself that not one of the letters is actually from him. In any case, lest you think that I believe Dustin is the only one screwing up, or that I don’t find faults in myself, here is a random list of observations and admissions to level the playing field.

When I found out that Dustin was putting money in an IRA every month, I famously yelled, “Why, that’s like throwing money out the window!”

When I was 16 years old, I washed my car with an SOS pad.

Sometimes, if I want to leave a party, a meeting or an exercise class at the gym, I pretend that I’ve just received a call on my cell phone.

I think coffee tastes and smells like an ashtray.

It is very stressful for me when I didn’t hear someone’s name the first time, but didn’t bother to ask them to repeat it. Then, months later, once we are confirmed acquaintances and it would be wrong and completely offensive for me not to know their name, it becomes necessary to dodge situations where I might have to address them formally. Sadly, this happens to me more often than is acceptable.

I once used the camera feature on my iPhone to sneak a picture of a woman’s hairstyle that I liked. When she caught me, I pretended that I was reading a text message. Before iPhones, I did the same thing at Sea World using my digital camera.

Daylight saving time throws off my schedule for weeks.

I sometimes tape a piece of hair across the door of the attic so that I will know, by the broken strand, if someone is hiding in there.

I tell the pharmacist not to include the informational brochure with my prescription, because if I read it, I will never take the medicine. Similarly, it seems like a total waste (to me, at least) of money to produce a commercial that advertises that your product will cause heart palpitations, excessive sweating, kidney failure, insomnia, nightmares, increased urination and flushed skin.

If Dustin doesn’t answer his cell phone the first time, sometimes I get angry, hang up and call back again.

Caller ID has made it much easier for Dustin to ignore me.

I think the smell of soured towels, jeans and rugs is scary because usually you can’t smell it when it’s on you or in your own house.

If Dustin tells me I can’t do something, he is guaranteed that I will try. When he says, “Whatever you do, don’t clean the bathroom,” I think he is on to me about this.

Like a force field, my reading glasses seem to increase my cone of personal space by at least two extra feet. They are similar to sunglasses in this way. And yet, unlike sunglasses, my eyes are not hidden in reading glasses. I forget this when I roll my eyes or stare off into space while someone is talking to me.

When I say that I’m afraid of cats, I’m not kidding.

In second grade, I used my tongue to pull out my permanent retainer from the roof of my mouth so that I could go home. (Sorry, Mom.)

Sometimes, when I’m being indecisive, I come to a conclusion using the wadded-up-paper-as-basketball trick: “If this wad of paper makes it into the wastebasket on the first try, I will take my medicine despite what I read online about it.” (This is the same way I came to the decision to marry Dustin.)

No, I’m only kidding about that last one. For all my jokes, he truly is the brains of this operation. That’s why, as we celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary this year, my last admission is that Dustin (aka my biggest fan) is a tolerant, patient, loving man with a great sense of humor, and I am lucky to have him.

Maine author and columnist Sarah Smiley’s writing is syndicated weekly to publications across the country. She and her husband, Dustin, live with their three sons in Bangor. Her book “I’m Just Saying …” is available at bookstores. She may be reached at sarah@sarahsmiley.com.

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