posted by Joe Anaya on April 15th, 2013

My wife hates to be late. She gets very tense if we’re leaving the house later than she wanted. She’ll usually insist on driving because I don’t share her sense of urgency and therefore am less willing to break every traffic law on the way to the scheduled event. It doesn’t matter what the event is. I understand the stress of catching a movie, or being on time for an appointment. But it’s everything else as well, even to a kid’s birthday party. As the primary care giver, I have been to about a hundred kid’s birthday parties (being a freelance writer does have its drawbacks). I can tell you from personal experience, it does not matter what time you show up to a backyard party, plus or minus 20 minutes. But my wife will blow a blood vessel if we’re not ringing the doorbell right on time. That would be all fine and good and even admirable if it weren’t for one fact: She’s the one who always makes us late.

If we have decided to leave the house at 5:30, I’ll call out, “Wheels up at 5:30. I am backing out of the driveway at 5:30, whoever is in the car with me can come along.” Unfortunately, my wife seems to miss the point, she thinks I’m heralding the departure time for my son’s sake. While he’ll make an earnest effort to be in the back seat with his headphones plugged into his electronic hand held device by 5:30, my wife on the other hand will promptly forget what we discussed and proceeds to start five projects that have nothing to do with leaving on time but actually impede our departure. It’s the uncontrolled urge to do more than can be done in the time left that makes us late.

Sure there’s the usual, she can’t decide which shoes go with which slacks. I’m not sure why she can’t see what she’s putting together before she actually puts them on. But it’s not uncommon for my wife to try in three different outfits before leaving the house. If it’s an event that requires me to wear more than jeans and a t-shrit, I look at my closet, decide what goes together and wear it. And not shockingly, it looks exactly how I imagined it would while it was hanging in my closet.

Typically, I’ll take a shower, get dressed once, and be waiting by 5:00. My wife, while searching for her belt with the shiny buckle, will yell for me to “mow the lawn.” “I’m not mowing the lawn 30 minutes before we’re supposed to leave.” She shoots back, “It’ll only take 10 minutes.” And there’s the rub, in my wife’s world, everything should take 10 minutes: mowing the lawn, painting the house, reading War & Peace, should all take 10 minutes. That’s why, 20 minutes before we’re going to leave she has the inexplicable urge to mop the floor, or rearrange the furniture, or cook a pot roast. But then she’s the most upset when we’re behind schedule.

Often, my efforts to keep us on time are foiled by the meaning of the words, “I’m ready.” When my wife say’s she’s ready, she can be anywhere from just getting out of the shower to deciding which purse to fill, to debating which car to take. When I say, “I’m ready,” I’m standing by the door with my shoes on and the keys in my hand ready to start the car.  But then I’ll get called back to make the beds or fix the plumbing or God knows what all else. Apparently, any of which should only take 10 minutes. Which of course makes us at least 20 minutes late.

File Under King of the Castle