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Project Nerd

People often wonder how Tim and I ended up together. We count ourselves among them. Other than our occupations, I doubt you could find a more disparate pair: Tim loves the outdoors, treats everyone he meets with kindness and has an intense need to keep busy, to accomplish things. I’m more of a misanthropic couch potato. When it came time for Tim to give up his practice, which included being Medical Director of a psychiatric hospital, his patients cried. The staff cried. I even detected tears in the eyes of the janitors, for Tim is a kindred spirit to Everyman.

Although we’ve been together fifteen years and I am a psychiatrist, after all, the one thing I still cannot understand about my husband is this: Why a man who has spent twelve long years of his life pursuing higher education, would aspire to be a manual laborer. If that’s what you want to do, why not just skip all that expensive, time consuming schooling? The truth is, since the moment I met him, Tim dreamed of giving up the whole psychiatry gig to pursue his ideal job: railroad engineer.

Since that would be way too much freedom for the consort of a Princess, instead, on weekends, this mild mannered psychiatrist sheds his suit and tie, slaps on his safety goggles and assumes the guise of… Project Nerd, Domestic Superhero. Tim tackles everything around the house: faster than a speeding motorist on work-release at the jail, he installs landscaping (complete with drip irrigation), more powerful than the locomotive he craves beneath his feet, he sweeps, cleans and repairs the gutters, and is able to fell sick trees in a single blow (chopping them into firewood for the winter). Look! Up in the rafters! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Project Nerd installing an attic fan. By 9 am on a Sunday, my husband has done more than I’ll even think about doing the entire week. (I never did understand that Army commercial. Is getting up before dawn to work your butt off really supposed to be a selling point?) I call it Tim’s pesky Protestant work ethic, and give thanks every day that I have not been saddled with one myself.

I don’t want to give the impression that Tim is an angel. Far from it. He takes full advantage of his knowledge of, well, everything and uses my slothfulness against me every chance he gets. For example: I’m always too hot. Unless it’s winter, then, I’m always too cold. Yes, part of the problem during that latter time of year is that I don’t move around much, but still, regulating my body heat is not one of my strong suits and I don’t think I should be penalized for having a disability. Tim thinks I should get bundled up in the winter. He says I should walk around in a sweater - in my own house! To me, that smacks too much of getting dressed. I maintain I should be able to wear only my pajamas to keep comfortable and I’m more than willing to make the concession of switching to flannels, but Tim thinks it wasteful to keep the heat up as high as I’d like.

When we first lived together, he noticed the temperature on the thermostat was always higher when he got home after work. But, superheroes don’t argue, they swing effortlessly between buildings, fly around the earth to change the course of time, thwart armed divisions without any artillery of their own. A domestic superhero simply waits out his wife out until she finally has to leave the house. Then, he installs a fancy, new, totally incomprehensible to her, thermostat. It took me months to even figure out where the “override” button was. By then, he had brought home a newer, even more incomprehensible gadget.

Thus began the Thermostat Wars which continue to this day. Just when I seem to have finally bested my enemy, Tim escalates the conflict by procuring even newer technology, and the skirmishes begin all over again with my small arms desperately trying to defuse the situation. Détente does not work with my husband. He simply refuses to negotiate, even when I force him to bear witness to my pathetic attempts at staying warm by snatching up an unsuspecting cat and sucking the heat out of my unhuman shield. But, I am no match for Tim’s superior superpowers, so am forever consigned to a state of perpetual nonthermeostasis.

Although, I did achieve a small victory after a deliciously satisfying escalation in hostilities the time we visited his father in Arkansas several years ago.
Maybe that’s where Tim gets his crazy ideas. Bob worked his entire life as a mail carrier, finally got to retire, and what does he do? Buys a small farm in a small town in Arkansas, running it by himself, so he can work harder than he ever has. The first time we visited him was in July. July. In Arkansas. In fairness to Bob, he did have the air conditioning turned on. Just not nearly high enough. Tim was quick to point out the irony of the fact that the number that would have made me positively ecstatic in winter was reducing me to abject misery in summer.

“Oh, PULEASE,” I cried. Everyone knows that 76 degrees in winter, is not equivalent to 76 degrees in summer.” Project Nerd was unmoved. Fortunately for me, farm life requires that one go to bed right after dinner. So, after Bob retired that first evening, I lowered his pitiful thermostat, a relic from a pre-Industrial past I had no difficulty whatsoever decoding after years of on-the-job training living with his son. Unfortunately for me, however, farm life also requires getting up much earlier than I could possibly consider and the luxuriating in bed I so looked forward to on vacations was marred by rolling around in my own sweat by morning. Bob had already been awake for hours and had raised the temperature to a post-nuclear level. At least I had those few dark hours before dawn, which was more than I ever got in my own house.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 20, 2004 5:32 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Vanture.

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