I was feeling pissy yesterday as a number of things had built up to make me feel that My Husband Is Not Clued In and Not Helpful Enough, which segued into the age-old complaint of What Is Wrong With His Brain?, which sometimes reaches the hysterical height of What Kind Of Insanity Gripped The Minds Of The Board of Regents of the University of California When They Gave That Man a Ph.D When It Is Obvious That He's An Idiot?
The major cause of this had been that he completely screwed up making himself some cheese tortellini. I had eaten with the children already, because (a) he called to tell me that he was working late, and (b) Lola threw a massive hissy fit over the prospect of driving home on an empty stomach from our errands, so I gave in and took them to a nearby child-friendly restaurant with a giant bin of grungy toys. At home, I showed the husband that I'd bought some fresh tortellini and sauce that day as a treat at the Italian deli and invited him to boil himself up some. He did this thing he always does of using a super tiny saucepan, far too small for cooking pasta in. I pointed out, for the one millionth time, that I always use a particular, large pan for pasta, and he superiorly reminded me that he has degrees in physics and therefore knows exactly how much longer it takes a larger volume of water to boil and his busy life is wasted by standing around waiting for the water to boil. So of course, his pan was so full of tortellini that the top layer was just dry, and he didn't cook it long enough in the inadequate amount of water, and the expensive tortellini tasted horrible because they were undercooked. I may not be as smart as the man, but I can cook pasta, and I manage to fill in my time waiting for the water to boil quite adequately. Now, perhaps I shouldn't care that the man ruined his own meal, but he wasted some fine, fresh tortellini in the process.
Some other little issues concerning his grasp of the finer points of our child management labor had been irking me, and my snit was growing. Then, as I was driving to pick up Iris at school, one of my tires blew out. I felt pathetically on the verge of tears, and I calmed myself down. (In my defense, I have changed a tire before, in the distant past, and I was sick enough yesterday to have gone to my doctor in the morning. All I wanted in life was to go to bed with my prescription throat gargling stuff and my cough drops and a novel). The husband was very calm and reassuring over the phone and promised me he'd deal with everything, I could just get a cab home. I abandoned the car, walked to Iris's school, got Iris, got a cab (there was no good bus route between Point A and Point B), and felt very grateful to the old husband. Today I kissed him on the neck repeatedly and said, with a little post-modern, retro intonation, "It's so nice to have a man around the house!"
Being the child of two Ph.D.'s, I can tell you that the absent-minded professor stereotype exists for a reason. Because they spend so much time theorizing and looking at gigantic concepts, many holders of a higher-education degree are completely tripped up by the mundane aspects of life. They can understand string theory, but not shoe strings.
Interestingly, this phenomenon only applies to my father; my mother is incredibly competent. But I know there are many, many male Ph.D.'s out there who have gotten away with ignorance of reality because they have a wife to clean up after them.
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