Dew is heavy this morning. If the temperature had dropped to near zero as was forecast, a killing frost would have clobbered the garden. I’m happy inside where it’s warm and not out rock collecting with the guys. It’s good to have the house to myself for a change.
We’ve had a busier than usual week. Besides wrapping up the Tweedsmuir project which required daily trips to the museum, and more treatments for the pinched nerve, we’ve had back-to-back house guests of the mineral collecting variety. For Reiner this meant long hours digging and hauling rock. He has a reputation to uphold: that of being a human backhoe. I think he’s overdone it. He would never admit it, but he’s tired and needs to recharge. It’s manifesting in his need to have everything clean and tidy and orderly.Sure, I know he has his quirks and foibles. We all do. However, from what I’ve read about Autism spectrum and Asperger’s, I think my hubby falls to the left of Sheldon Cooper. By “left” I mean “almost.”
For instance, this morning after clearing the breakfast dishes, our guest R and I sat at the table chatting. Reiner was scrubbing something at the kitchen sink. I thought he was prepping a mineral specimen or other mining artifact to show our friend.
“What are you cleaning?” I asked.
“Something,” he replied, as cryptic as ever.
He scrubbed on as R and I gabbed. A few moments later, I’m more curious than ever, so I ask again.
“Is that from your trip to the silver mine?”
Finally, he turns from the sink and presents the item to R.
“Here,” he said, as he handed R’s comb to him. “It’s clean, now.”
Bless him, and without missing a beat, R exclaims, “Oh, no! Now it won’t work! There was twenty year’s-worth of hair grease accumulated on this!”
I was mildly mortified at Reiner’s over-stepping.
I could see that the comb cleaning was part of a bigger pattern. He cleaned my hairbrush earlier this week. He felt compelled to vacuum the indoor-outdoor carpet even though muddy rockhound boots will tramp all over it for the next forty-eight hours. He stayed up long past his usual bedtime last night to jar up pickled beets.
Ah yes, the beets. The subject of our confrontation yesterday.
Toward dinner time, we had the usual discussion of what we’d eat. We settled on home-cut fries. While I retrieved the potatoes from our root cellar, I noticed that the apples were over-ripe and the bag of beets had started to sprout. I carried all three bags, plus an additional bag of spuds up to the kitchen.
Apparently, that was my first “mis-step.” Overloading myself. Which, somehow overloads him. He worries that I will hurt myself by carrying too much weight. (Meanwhile, I had just finished congratulating myself for being ABLE to carry that weight up the stairs without pausing as I once needed to do.)
The second failure on my part was bringing up more potatoes than necessary. You see, that meant more clutter on an already crowded counter-top. He returned the spare bag of spuds to the cellar.
My third, and gravest error was multi-tasking. To him, preparing fries concurrent with making an apple crisp and setting a pot of beets to boil was more than he could handle. He had not planned on pickling the beets that day, but now, it was ordained: he was obliged. Apparently.
Of course, all this time, he is saying nothing, but I can sense that he is troubled. We have the usual “Is something wrong?” and “Nothing’s wrong” and “Are you sure?” back-and-forth until he finally spills the “beets.”
His lament: Why do you always have to take on too much? Why must you multi-task? Why can’t you do one thing at a time?
He took the beets back to the storage.
Hey! Hold on, buster! I countered with “Why CAN’T I make apple crisp at the same time as you make the fries and the beets are boiling on the stove?” I was pissed off. To me it seemed that he was trying to control what I did and how I did it.
For better or worse (ah, those famous words) I haven’t had much arguing practice in this marriage. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. We both tend to put up and shut up. He more than I. Much, much more. Not a desirable approach to living together. That’s how powder kegs form.
He said something hurtful. I fired back. Knowing that playing dirty is bad form, I tried to defuse and de-escalate, by calling a time-out. That lasted for 3.429 seconds. The cycle continued for a few more rounds, then he was silent for some time before he blurted something I’ve never, ever heard him say.
“An over-cluttered countertop drives me crazy.”
I was stunned. “I didn’t know that. Of course, let’s cook the beets later.”
You would think that since I suspect he’s Aspie, I would have managed to apply that knowledge to day-to-day living with the man. In my defense, I didn’t want to make Asperger’s ASSumptions without more input from him. But I couldn’t find the way to have that conversation. Besides, I have blind spots of my own and I also have a tendency toward armchair diagnosis. Who am I to point fingers?
We kissed and made up. Ate our fries. Apple crisp for dessert. R arrived just after our meal. We visited for a bit then turned in for the night.
But Reiner first boiled and pickled those beets!
For all of my complaining and fault-finding, I (eventually) know that Reiner has no ill-intentions. He is a diligent, hard-working, and devoted partner. I will go on record here to say, credit where credit is due.
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