Diary of a Marriage: Our Kitchen, The Landfill.

Male Random Selective Blindness, or Why My Husband Won’t Take Out The Trash.


For what seems like the millionth time, I walk into our kitchen and see that the shopping bag in which we toss our recyclables is full. And not just full, but brimming over with empty boxes, toilet paper tubes, water bottles. These are all stacked precariously atop one another—toilet paper tube balancing on a water bottle, which is teetering on a Kleenex box, which is stacked on a Cheerios carton, which is piled on a pizza box. To the left of all this is a stack of magazines, which serves as a sturdy base for an entirely new tower of trash. Our kitchen looks like a freaking Jenga Championship Tournament.

Perplexingly, J.—who has rightly claimed the kitchen as “his domain”—seems not to mind that the area is quickly being overtaken by our recyclables. In fact, he is the one who was adamantly against our getting a separate paper-and-plastics trash can in the first place. One trash can is enough, he declared: “We’ll just get a bag for them.” I should have known. “Bag” is Man Code for “piling shit up.”

Anyway, I’m here because I have an empty water bottle. I approach the tower gingerly, ready to pick the overflowing bag up and walk it to the garage. But J. runs over. He’s got this, he says. And then my husband—my smart husband, who has a Masters degree, who is chair of the English department at a very good school, who is not out of his mind—crouches down and begins to ever-so-gently balance the water bottle on top of a bent hanger. “Don’t move!” he whispers. “I’ve just … got to get this …” I swear I see a fine sheen of perspiration developing on his upper lip.

“Please tell me you’re kidding,” I say. But he’s not. He manages to balance the water bottle on the hanger and then he backs away slowly, arms outstretched like he’s about to take flight. Once he’s a safe distance away from the tower, he stands upright triumphantly. He’s conquered the tower.

I don’t understand why he won’t just take the bag out to the garage and dump it in our recycling bin. It’s not a matter of laziness or messiness: The man obsessively cleans our microwave every single time we use it. I honestly think that he just doesn’t see it. I’ve termed this affliction Male Random Selective Blindness. It’s random because he notices other things, like the tiny puddles of water that develop on my side of the bathroom counter when I wash my face. These bother him. But the landfill that is our kitchen? Nah, that’s cool.

The blindness is selective, too; J. can turn it off and on at will. Once a week, the Tuesday evening before trash day, J. clears our kitchen of the recycling bag. This has become something of a spectator sport. I watch as he crouches down, arms around the base of the shopping bag, lifting it slightly until the pile comes clattering down. Water bottles roll beneath the table, cereal boxes crash to the ground. This could be so much easier, I think. It’s like watching a National Geographic documentary on some exotic jungle animal, with a dramatic, deep-voiced narrator, maybe Morgan Freeman: The male tries to attract the female by building a tower of recyclable items. Now watch as he lifts the recycling bag…

He’s also blind to the Valentine’s Day gifts that he hasn’t yet put away—these are stacked by his bureau—and to the thin layer of dust I recently discovered on the back of our sofa. When I saw the dust, I was horrified; J. shrugged it off. I could almost hear the Male Random Selective Blindness click on.

I’m learning to adjust to his MRSB, though. I feel like it might even be contagious. Sometimes I find myself not even noticing his piles anymore. In fact, the other week, my mom visited. She peered into our kitchen and I caught her eyes imperceptibly widen. “What’s that?” she said, pointing to the bag.

“Oh, that,” I said, waving it off. “That’s just us, saving the planet, you know, Jenga-style.”

Have you noticed any signs of MRSB in your husband or fiancé? What’s his thing he doesn’t notice, that drives you crazy?





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