59: It’s Not There

59: It’s Not There

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

It’s Not There

Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours
without surgery.

~Mark Amidon

Cutting boards, jars, knives and a colorful mix of veggies cluttered the kitchen island. Minced onion, garlic, and ginger swam in hot golden olive oil in a pan. Following a sniff trail, my husband approached and gently brushed my hair aside to kiss my neck.

“Smells great. Tell me what I can do to help, hon.”

“Would you mind going to the deck and getting the seasoning I left out there?”

He nodded and headed outside, only to return in under ninety seconds.

“I’m sorry. Can’t find it. Where exactly is it?”

Concentrating on my prep work at the sink, I pressed the mute button on my “right-in-plain-sight-did-you-even-look-or-move-anything” thoughts and responded, “It’s on the shelf in the corner. Thanks.”

With a cheery “okay” he headed back to the deck. Four minutes later, he reappeared. Hearing him enter, I automatically stretched out my hand for the seasoning.

“Tell me again… where exactly?”

Did I have to be so precise? Our deck isn’t a football field. I stopped myself from saying what I wanted to say, in the how-could- you-miss-it-do-I-need-to-draw-you-a-map vein. I must wrestle this communication snafu to the ground. After all, I am a marriage counselor!

“Look on the second shelf… the three-tiered glass and metal thing… next to the barbecue pit… where we keep the bug candles. Okay?” I separated my directions into chunk-size bits of detail. By this time, I could have crawled sideways there and back three times and been done with it.

He made his third trip, but returned empty-handed. I could sense he was frustrated, so I sweetly asked, “Would you like me to show you where it is, dear?”

“Sure, but it’s not there.”

I hooked my arm in his — by now we were each grinning in anticipation. I escorted him to the window overlooking the deck and pointed. “Can you see it now?”

“Well, duh. Why didn’t you just say it was to the right of the outlet? I would’ve found it immediately.”

We hugged and laughed over a humorous ending to a threatened mini-crisis of annoyance and bickering. I suppose a woman’s clearly perfect directions can be clearly muddy to her husband. We can move on with humor and grace or spoil the moment with nitpicking words.

 

~Patt Hollinger Pickett, Ph.D.

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