Irritability and the Mathematician

This entry is part 14 of 19 in the series Memoir

Any thoughts on what to call somebody who stays calm and just fixes things? Because I married a person like that.

The Mathematician is competent past all good manners. It would be nice if once in a while he just couldn’t figure something out. The worst part? He teases me.

I’ll say: What’s wrong with [the window, the cat, the washer, the car, etc etc] and he’ll immediately respond: Well, I don’t know. Then he repeats it, with a bit of a huff, trying out another word for emphasis: I don’t know.

Then I retire to wait. Because (1) he does know and (2) he will fix it. He’ll just pop his head in and say: fixed it.

His mother tells a story about how the car wouldn’t start. He was about twelve at the time. So he’s looking under the hood, standing next to his father — a highly skilled engineer. Nothing’s working. Bill walks away and sits down in the kitchen. He stares into space for about ten minutes and then he looks up, walks out to the car and says to his father: try this. And the car starts.

I think he automatically says idunno because (1) it’s irritating to know everything (but not as irritating as it is to live with somebody who knows everything); (2) he wants to keep me guessing as in: Crickey, did I really find something he can’t do? Will I have to call (ominous drum beats) a repair person?

Those words “call repair” will galvanize him into action. He hates other people fiddling around with the house.  Oh, the little games married people play.

Once I decided to test him. I said, “I called the repair guy to come look at the oven door.” I wish I had had a video camera. The looks that passed over his face: wait, you did what!?!?

And then it came out of his mouth: Why did you do that? I’ll look at it..

Unfortunately that faking-him-out approach  only worked that one time. That’s the thing about people who are really, really smart. You can teach the Mathematician a new card game and after two hands, he starts winning and (unless this is a game of chance) he’ll keep winning. It’s inevitable.

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