The Audacity of Approaching Perfection

This is a story about Raymond. Everybody loves him.

A decade and a half ago, Raymond entered into cohabitation with a female, Poison Ivy. She makes Raymond’s brain itch.

The sitcoms of her youth taught her to expect a man who would leave the toilet seat up. He would have skid marks in his underwear. He would leave crumbs on the counter. He would never remember to take out the garbage unless she was hollering at him in her nasal voice.

Raymond grew up with the same sitcoms. If it were not for the bachelor apartment, he might believe those male stereotypes to be true. The bachelor pad was where Raymond learned to conduct his beautiful orchestra. He called that orchestra, efficiency. Raymond alone affected his destiny, and so he learned not to step on his own toes. In that sense, his orchestra of efficiency was accompanied by a beautiful dance called, sanity. He was in sync with his environment. He was dialled into the correct frequency. Everything just worked. He was an adult now.

As he performed his daily movements, he systematized the things around him. In Raymond’s house, there was never a toilet paper roll hung in the incorrect underhanded orientation, let alone a completely depleted stock of toilet paper.

That all changed during the cohabitation. His melodic orchestra had become nails on a chalkboard and his beautiful dance had become a ‘Bozo the Clown’ act.

Raymond had a routine. It took place in the morning. It took place in the kitchen. Before it could even begin Raymond would have already catalogued various grievances around the house in the double-digits that were ‘out of tune’ with the orchestra he was trying to conduct (like socks on the floor, an unflushed toilet, menstrual blood on the toilet seat, etc…)

Like side-stepping literal poison ivy to avoid a rash, Raymond would be metaphorically side-stepping Poison Ivy’s inefficiencies and insanities to avoid a brain rash. All metaphors aside, here is his kitchen routine:

Put the small pot on the left burner closest to the front of the stove. Grab the small measuring cup. Add 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add 1/3 cup of instant steel cut oats. Turn temperature to low. Cook for five minutes while stirring. Turn off the stove. Pour into bowl. Serve.

Here is how Raymond’s routine went on one fateful morning:

Raymond yelled, “Where the fuck is the small pot?”

“I don’t know,” replied Poison Ivy.

“Well, I didn’t use it,” said Raymond.

“It should be in the cupboard below the pantry.”

“I know where it should be. It isn’t there.”

After this exchange, the pot was located. It was in the dishwasher, unwashed, with Poison Ivy’s food from the night before caked onto it. Beside it was the small measuring cup, also dirty. At least the stove’s flat top burner was clea—nope. There was a charred burned-on mess there too.

Raymond’s tune was hitting a lot of sharps and flats that were not in key.

After washing everything that would have been ready to go in the bachelor days, he was ready to resume his routine. Everything was back on track until he scooped the 1/3 cup of oatmeal into the pot. When he dropped the measuring spoon down on the counter, wet oatmeal splattered on the counter. Poison Ivy had put the spoon back in the drawer while still wet, so the dry oatmeal stuck to it and then became dislodged when he dropped the spoon. Another mess to clean.

I imagine the way he felt that morning was the way an autistic savant feels when he looks at a typical person. The savant will never understand why the ordinary person cannot see the things that he can.

The Social Justice Warriors might say, “Raymond’s language was aggressive when he asked Poison Ivy where the pot was.” He’s a misogynist! That might be true, if not for this missing variable:

14

That is the number of years Raymond has been doing the same morning routine. During that time he had repeatedly asked Poison to respect the fact that he’s trying to orchestrate a symphony of efficiency.

Here’s a variable from another equation called, “The number of times Raymond swung a hammer incorrectly after his daddy showed him the correct way.”:

0

Raymond was able to approach perfection by adapting his behaviour, but Poison Ivy was not.

It had become apparent to Raymond that the stereotypes in the sitcoms and comedy acts portraying men as bumbling idiots were wholly untrue. In fact it was the opposite.

But turning a stereotype 180° and pointing the finger at women? They can’t be at fault for all the inefficiencies around the house, can they? When Raymond talked to his neighbors they all had similar issues with their wives, such as unopened mail being stuffed in the junk drawer, and toothpaste (still in tube form) squirted in the sink. When he talked to his dad he was informed that his mom was leaving bits of food in the sink drain that he ultimately had to clean. Commedians like Bill Burr had plenty of say on the subject as well.

So why does a boy child take one scolding to forever remember how to hold a hammer, and a woman person takes 14 years to not know a simple breakfast routine? I don’t think it’s always been that way. It might be our technological age (i.e. too many women staring at smartphones). I have a hunch Raymond’s grandmother’s house ran a lot smoother during WWII.

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