4/26/06

Somebody moved my shit. I think.

How many of you married guys have ever asked your wives this question:

“Have you seen my {article of footwear, clothing, tool, car keys, mp3 player, etc.}”

I am willing to bet that a lot of you have. To a guy, this a simple yes or no question. To the woman he lives with, it is not.

Let me give you an example. Suppose that you are a guy, and you are going on an excursion to the hardware store for some guy-type stuff. As you are walking out the front door, you attempt to grab your keys from off of that little table in the foyer next to the front door where you left them. It turns out that you are unable to do this, because the keys are no longer there. This is a mystery to the guy mind. “They were there,” you think to yourself. “But….they no longer are.”

Your mind flashes to yesterday, when you came in the door and tossed your keys on the table. In your mind, you see them hit the table, and slide an inch to the rear. Your ears hear their distant, phantom jingle. You see the light reflect off the shiny new brass house key you just had made. No doubt about it. The keys were there at some point in the recent past. You can feel it. So the only conclusion is this: The keys have been moved. You are almost 23% sure of this fact. There is a reason that this percentage is so low, and we’ll get to that in a moment.

The next step, obviously, is to inquire as to the key’s whereabouts with the other co-habitants of your dwelling. If you live alone, you can stop reading this now, because it does not pertain to you. If you live with a room mate of the same sex, this also does not pertain to you. Otherwise, walk with me.

What usually happens next is that you yell something along the lines of:

HONEY?? HAVE YOU SEEN MY KEYS?”

Pay close attention, because this is where things move outside the realm of guy think. As I said -- to a guy, this is a simple yes or no question. Either the keys have been seen, or they have not been seen. There should be a 50% chance of either an answer that will help you, or an answer that will not. Either one is OK, because as a guy, you are simply employing the process of elimination to determine the possible location of your keys, and if a witness can be had, this is always helpful.

So do you get a yes or no answer? No, you do not. If you live with a woman, you will most likely get one of the following answers:

1. If you didn’t leave your keys all over the place maybe you’d be able to find them. Did you check {insert obvious place here}?

2. They are probably still right where you left them.*

3. Well, I didn’t touch them.**

4. Did you check the hook (where they are supposed to be?) Note: the part in parenthesis is usually not said out loud, but it doesn’t have to be. All guys will hear it as if it had been screamed into a megaphone. Also, “the hook” refers to an arbitrary decorative hook or group of hooks set aside by your wife specifically for keys, and as such, is the only acceptable and logical place for keys to be deposited immediately upon entering the house.
As you can plainly see, all of the previous answers could have been covered by a simple “No.” And keep in mind that a simple “No” will not aggravate. It will not annoy. It will not do anything except impart a single, valuable piece of information. To wit, whether or not the keys have been seen. Period. That’s the only answer a guy really cares about when it comes down to it, and this is precisely why a woman will never give it.

If, on the other hand, she actually has seen the keys, and has actually moved them, you will get one of the following answers:

1. If you didn’t leave your keys all over the place maybe you’d be able to find them. Did you check {insert obvious place here}?

2. They are probably still right where you left them.

3. Well, I didn’t touch them.

4. Did you check the hook (where they are supposed to be)?

You will notice that these answers are exactly the same in either case. This is not an accident.

You may also notice that in the second list of possible answers, answer #3 is a blatant lie. This is not to say your wife is a liar. Far from it. This is the literal truth – as she remembers it. She really has absolutely no recollection of moving the keys, even though she obviously did, and if there was a hidden security camera above the hallway table it would show her walking by, sighing, grabbing the keys, and hanging them on the appropriate decorative hook.

There are many reasons for this behavior, and most of them have to do with the difference between how a guy’s mind keeps track of things as compared to a woman’s mind. A guy remembers where things are by picturing where he left them last. A woman remembers where things are by picturing where they belong. I have to say that the woman’s way is much more logical, however it takes more effort than most guys will want to expend. Somehow, a woman is born with this capability, and somewhere deep in the primal reptilian portion of her brain, she has an unconscious ability to put things away without even thinking about it. And that is why a woman will swear up and down that she never touched your keys, even though we have the hidden video and, if we were so inclined, the fingerprints to prove it.

Think of it this way: A guy’s mind is like a 60” flat screen TV with post-it notes stuck all around the edges. On each note is the location of something we put down somewhere. We know exactly where those somethings are, because we have the post-it note and we can reference that at any time. A woman’s mind stores information such as this in a mental file cabinet full of file folders, each cross referenced and color coded alphabetically by item and location.

The problem occurs when the woman stumbles upon an item the guy has already written the location of on one of his mental Post-it Notes and decides to move it to where it belongs, and then add its location to her file cabinet. She will do this with much sighing and muttering, and she will also derive satisfaction from a job well done, because women are like that. Meanwhile, the guy is blithely watching his 60” mental TV (which is probably showing porn or sports or, in a perfect guy world, porn-sports) and he is completely unaware that one of his Post-It Notes has just become obsolete.

Until, that is, the time comes when he needs to find whatever it was that was written on it. He will think to himself, “Hmm…where did I leave my tape measure?” and that particular little Post-It Note will flutter down off the mental TV and he will pick it up and read it.

It will say something like, “Tape measure: placed in the little basket on the bathroom counter that holds the cotton balls and Q-Tips.” So he will go to the bathroom and find the little basket with the cotton balls and Q-Tips and the tape measure will not be there. Granted, it probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place, but still, he is almost 23% sure it was there at some point, because the mental post-it note in his mental hand is telling him that it was.

Invariably, what will happen next is the familiar sequence of “Have you seen my tape measure? It was right here in this basket,” and the answer of “No, I didn’t touch it,” and the hidden video camera, had it really existed, would have clearly shown her picking up the tape measure and tossing it in the kitchen junk drawer while on the way to emptying the bathroom garbage can. It is this automatic behavior that drives the guy nuts, and is completely responsible for the fact that he is, at any given time, only 23% sure of where he left any of his stuff, and has no real idea that the remaining 77% of his post-it note inventory is total crap.

Here’s a real-life for instance.

Last night, I hung the particular pair of jeans I wanted to wear to work over the railing by the stairs so I didn't have to dig them out of the closet in the morning. I did this so that in the morning I can just grab a shirt and underwear from the dresser, grab the jeans from the railing, hit the shower (sans clothes), get dressed and be in the car thirty five minutes after my alarm clock goes off. This morning, I stumbled to the stairs, grabbed my pants on the railing, and…no, actually I didn’t grab them because they were no longer there. Somehow, they had been put on top of a laundry basket of other clean clothes in the next room. I am guessing that they did not look very good hung over the railing, and had the camera crew for Better Homes and Gardens made a surprise appearance at our house at 10:30 PM, it could have been a complete and utter disaster.

Seriously, I have taken milk out of the fridge, walked to the pantry, grabbed a box of cereal and by the time I turned around again, the milk was back in the fridge. I kid you not.

She is that efficient.

Once a woman realizes she has this power, she can begin to use it toward her own ends. Say for instance her husband pissed her off. Also say he only pissed her off slightly, so she doesn’t really want to get into a full-blown fight, because that will simply upset her, which she also does not want.

So she thinks for a bit, and decides that she will clean his office. The reason she decides to clean his office is not because she wants to do something nice for him. Hardly. It's because that is where the highest concentration of mental post-it notes can be found, and she wants to screw with them. A lot. (A quick note to my wife: I'm not talking about you, of course. But now that I've thought of it, I will have to pay more attention and see if there is any correlation between my pissing you off and my office getting cleaned.)

So she will move stuff, clean stuff, stack stuff, throw out stuff, and relocate stuff to the basement. When she is done, the office will look fantastic, which makes her happy, and the guy in her life will not be able to find a single thing in there, which also makes her happy, because she just got even with him and he can’t get pissed at her. She will say “Honey, I cleaned your office for you. It looks so good, doesn’t it?” adding a silent “you bastard” to the end of the sentence, knowing full well that he can’t really complain about it because she has just done something "nice" for him. All he can do is sit, bewildered, as thousands of mental post-it notes fly off his mental TV and flutter around his ears. It’s the perfect revenge crime.

The guy cannot win this battle unless he takes the drastic step of deciding to live alone and therefore only having himself to blame for not being able to find things. This is kind of like cutting off the arm to fix the hangnail, so in reality all he can do is continue to leave shit all over the place, and hope that he can remain 23% positive that he is not losing his mind because nothing is ever where he thinks he left it.

Now where the hell did I put my car keys? Oh yeah, I think they're on the kitchen table. Hmmm. I guess not. Maybe that was yesterday or something. Ah, there they are, right on the hook (where they belong.) The funny thing is, I am pretty sure I didn’t put them there.

But I could have.

Maybe.

I’m about 77% sure I didn’t, though.


*implies that the keys are probably someplace they clearly do not belong, and have been in that particular location for way too long.

**a masterstroke of tactical genius - four words that immediately cut off any attempt by you to accuse her of moving them, and also seizes first-strike capability in any argument that may follow.

36 comments:

  1. That TV/Post-It note analogy is a good one. I'll have to remember it.

    I know just what you're talking about. My stepmother rearranges the contents of all the household drawers and cupboards whenever the urge strikes. Whenever I visit, I get to watch my father flail around as he tries to update his Post-It notes.

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  2. Genius, pure genius.
    Unfortunately I have a guy mind.

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  3. In my house it was always my dad cleaning stuff up and throwing stuff out without telling anybody. It was beyond frustrating. But also he would get pissed if we moved his stuff. Hypocrite!!! In my house I think you'll find I'm more of the guy mindset. If someone said-where's your credit card? I'd say, "Oh it's in the bathroom drawer next to my deoderant and the pack of gum I bought yesterday." It makes no sense for them to be there, I know, and if you asked me how they got there I couldn't tell you, but I have a photographic memory, and I remember where I last saw it. This is okay right now because I live by myself. Since I am like a guy in this respect, does this mean I am gay?

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  4. Words can not describe the brilliance that is this summary of the constant war of Man vs Wo-man.

    -->insert standing ovation here

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  5. I have forwarded this to my husband in a clever ploy to make him think that I understand and sympathize with his plight as the bearer of a Y chromosome.

    When really it's just a thinly veiled warning that the next time he pisses me off, he'll come home to an office that is fucking IMMACULATE.

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  6. This is awesome, funny, and very true. Although, I tend to picture where I last left things.

    In our home the problem we have isn't with me moving hubs's things, it is the cat. His cat to be specific. She will carry his wallet, check book and anything else of his off to other parts of the house in the middle of the night. He will get up in the morning frustrated because he can't find his stuff. Simple solution, put it where she can't get it. Does he do that?? Nope.

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  7. OMG! This is a masterpiece! I think it all has to do with the proven ability for women to multi task much more easily than men... Natural filers...but hey, I'm more of a landmark driver, so I get lost if the landscape changes. There's your revenge...

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  8. Very simply the single greatest piece of internet writing ever put to print. I love you man. Seriously I was crying. This is a total masterpiece worthy of any publication currently in print. You should submit it somewhere right now.

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  9. thanks, man. If I remember right, you told me, "As your friend, I advise you not to post it. As a married guy, I'm begging you to."

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  10. I know someone who never puts her keys on the hook. And the hook is there for a good reason, as you explained so well.

    I'm not naming names, but the keys to her car have been lost for 2 months now, and they are the only ones with the remote door lock/alarm buttons. If the alarm goes off, we will have no way of turning it off.

    It's not a sore spot or anything. Not at all.

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  11. classic. too bad it's too long to print on a t-shirt.

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  12. The time it took you to write this could have been spent putting things back where they belong. I'm That Wife. :D

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  13. "Seriously, I have taken milk out of the fridge, walked to the pantry, grabbed a box of cereal and by the time I turned around again, the milk was back in the fridge. I kid you not."

    This is so true. At our house, it's my son doing the leaving and me doing the picking up.

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  14. so, let me see if I've got this

    1. You left your shit laying around

    2. Your wife put it away on autopilot and forgot about it (because she's done that 20,000 times??)

    3. You wrote 2,153 words to complain about your hard life.

    Men....

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  15. sahirs10:35 AM

    you're great! this is a great post.

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  16. I never said my life was hard, so cork it. Just because you're married to a guy, it's not my fault. :)

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  17. Yeah, I'd have to say that when it comes to stuff like that I think like a man too. I take a mental picture of where I leave things. If I can't find whatever it is that I am looking for, I will start at the beginning with the first 'picture' and flip through them (they look like a film playing back in my head) until I find what it is I am looking for.

    I do something similar if I am having a hard time remembering someones name, yet it's on the tip of my tounge. I will go through the alphabet in my head (sometimes out loud too). When I get to the letter of their name I can see it mentally spelled out in my head. 9 times out of 10 this method always works for me.

    Hey, thanks for the www.redchairsoftware.com recommendation! I will definitely have to check it out when I am in a zen mood to deal with the stupid iPod. I've been one aggitation away from chucking it into the Bay.

    BTW - LOVE your blog. Love the childhood stories the best! But your every day observation of things are just hilarious and always gets me laughing out loud.

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  18. You lost me at the first question. This is the first post of yours that I didn't think was funny (of the ones that are supposed to be funny, of course). Here's the flaw in your logic: Y'all ask "Have you seen my _____" when that's not actually what you mean. That question implies "Do you know what ________ looks like?" What you should ask is "Do you know where my ________ is/are?" While the responses you listed are still a possibility, I'm much more apt to answer the ACCURATE question with an accurate "nope." End of story. Not that either of these questions has ever been asked in our household. 8-p

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  19. KC - that's technically correct, but sadly, it's the way I ask the question. The second half of the question is implied, as in "Have you seen my keys (at any time in the recent past because I have not.)

    Sorry you didn't think it was funny. Sometimes things are funny cuz they're true, and sometimes they're not funny cuz they're true.

    I'll bet you more guys than girls think this post is funny.

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  20. Oh my gosh, this one is so funny. I can see why you choose it as one of your favorites. My husband lays stuff down in really random places, however, he does not immediately write them on a post it.
    I am not kidding you when I say that in the 8 years that I have known him, he has lost at least (and I mean, lost and we have never found them to this day)
    5 sets of car keys
    2 cell phone
    his drivers license, twice
    his bank card 5 or more times
    all of his little tools (screwdrivers, etc) he just goes and buys more
    his whole wallet once
    1, just 1 of his Birkenstock sandals
    about 8,000 lighters (yes, he smokes)
    about 35,000 ink pens
    This is why I have to take control. When I see his shit lying around, I have to put it away or it will never been seen again.

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  21. kristina2:10 PM

    "I'll bet you more guys than girls think this post is funny."

    Count me as a girl who thinks this is funny.

    My husband used to ask the same question, "Have you seen my _____?" To which I would actually answer "yes" and say where, or "no". But if my answer was "no", he would then ask, "Well where would I have put/left it?"

    Huh? You are asking me to think like you? Not.

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  22. genius. i loooove to mess with my hubby when he cant find something he left out and i put away. this is classic "my house," and now i have a great form of revenge i NEVER thought about until now: the office cleaning!

    formerly, when i cleaned his office I would ONLY lift carefully and dust and then organize/refill supplies, replacing everything exactly as it was, even while clucking my tongue about his disorderliness. now i shall let the wrath of my vengeful cleaning reign down upon him when i am 'slightly pissed off but not so much that i want to fight about it which would upset me..."

    MwAHHAHAHAHA!!!!

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  23. This has provided the best snapshot into my husband's mind. As a semi-newlywed (it's only been 7 or 8mo.) this little gem will be great to keep in my mental back-pocket just for that next time my husband asks me if I've seen his [insert obsolete post-it item here] anywhere.

    Now I will not just what to say, with out the revenge cleaning gem(which is also neatly tucked away with the first gem for some future argument of worthy cause).

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  24. You make me smile!~

    Loooooove it!

    ;)

    Now be a sweetheart and turn word verification OFF would ya?

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  25. Yeah, that's never gonna happen. Not as long as there are low-life blog spammers out there. I was deleting 20 comments a day for penis enlargement cream.

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  26. Anonymous7:55 PM

    "Do you know where my ________ is/are?"

    kc gave some bad advice with that one. At least saying "have you seen my _____" gives some benefit of doubt in spouse not moving them ...like "(when wandering around the house) have you seen..." rather than "Do you know where my ________ is/are (since you $*%! moved it/them)?

    (For this topic and many reasons, I was apparently born male, and my husband female ... yes, I even have a CPU boneyard in my closet.)

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  27. Anonymous8:32 AM

    This is awesome because I really do have a little tape measurer (3ft one) in the bathroom box with cotton balls. That is the biggest coincidence ever.

    Im a girl, though.

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  28. Anonymous1:07 PM

    This is why God invented Xanax, praise the RX.

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  29. Hmm...my mind actually works more in the Post-It note location fashion. Which means I can generally recall where that thing my boyfriend lost is. And I even tell.

    I'm just curious about the whole jeans on the railing/shower scenario. Did I read correctly that you actually shower in your jeans to save time? Or do you just shower with your jeans?

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  30. I have this same problem. My wife is constantly moving x or y somewhere else when I know I left it there (I'm 23% sure she did anyways). When I've caught her moving stuff to illogical places (if they were logical places, they'd be where I left them), and I can't find x, I tell her that I'm going to the store to buy 6 more of x. We have 7 tape measures now (the 6 I bought and the one she had moved). Great post!

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  31. Anonymous7:25 PM

    Well, Johnny, since you mentioned it..."Have you seen my penis enlargement cream?"

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  32. Forget that stuff. Turns out, all it does is shrink your hands.

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  33. This analogy is also true for moms and kids, I think, with the man being the kids and the woman being the mom.

    Not sure what that says about men... ;-)

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  34. Anonymous5:07 PM

    Love this little tidbit! I also think in Post-its and I can usually remember where the hubby has left things, although to be fair, it's usually me who is misplacing items.

    The funniest thing for my kids to watch is me yelling up the stairs, "WHERE ARE MY KEYS!!!" in a not so gentle tone, only to have one of the lovely little darlings tromp down the stairs and point to the errant keys on the table UNDER the decorative row of hooks where said keys "belong". *sigh*

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  35. Ha, thanks! You're digging deep in the archives. I love that. :)

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  36. My wife cleans the kitchen while I'm cooking dinner. A loving act, wouldn't you agree? Until you discover that ALL THE BOWLS AND UTENSILS YOU NEED ARE NOW IN THE DISHWASHER AND IT"S RUNNING.

    I'll be ok, don't worry about me.

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