Sunday, June 30, 2013

Nagging: A Female Force for Good

When I was a younger woman, I lived on hope and change and nagging. I used to hope that nagging worked and could change the speed at which the world moved.

When I say ‘the world,’ I mean men; okay, really I mean one man—my man.

 It took me a while to figure out that nagging was like all other expulsions of internal body gases—frequent, noisy, and rank.  Turning the most sympathetic of individuals into an unattractive nagging shrew surrounded by a cloud of toxic whining methane, not unlike a tent full of Boy Scouts farting the alphabet.

I can nag the alphabet. I’m that good.

I had a lot of raw material to work with in my husband, Sherwood the Great—Procrastinator. As a kid, he attended one Boy Scout meeting where they tried to make him pound a nail with a hammer. He never went back.  He decided he didn’t have to learn to pound a nail right that very minute. It could wait. He could learn to pound a nail with a hammer, later, much, much later. Like sometime, the last day of how about not right now! You know, later.

 When one of the heating coils burned out in the hot water heater that kept me in the steaming bath water to which I had become both accustomed and addicted, I grew determined to show the world and my critics (generally people who share my propensity for freckles) that I could make a reasonable request for repair work without a nag in sight.

I could do it. I could live nag free. I could quit anytime.

“Babe, I can only fill my bathtub halfway up with hot water. Then ice water pours out of the faucet, and even if I lay down flat on my back the water does not cover all my girl parts. Some stuff always sticks out.  It makes me sad and goose bumpy.”

 Rubbing his manly jaw he looked intrigued.  “One of the heater coil’s has probably burned out.”

“Should I call the hot water burned out coil man?” I crossed my arms over my chapped girl parts, hoping against hope that my husband’s monkey-man-brain had not snapped into stones-as-tools-me-fix-it mode.

Too late.

“Nope! Nothing to it,” he declared. “I’ll fix it.” 
“Dear, you should know I have made a solemn oath, covenant, and New Year’s resolution not to nag you on this critical repair work. I will not mention my unhappiness to you again about having to submerge my anatomy in a barely there tub of tepid water, in any way, shape, form, or language—domestic or foreign. So help me goose bumps.

I will not nag you about this.  I will not. I cannot nag you for I have oath-ed an oath.”

“Heater coil . . . got it.”

“No, I mean it. I’m on the nagging wagon.”

He looked skeptical and started making vague hammering motions with his hands. He appeared to be cracking invisible coconuts with an invisible boulder shaped tool.

“I mean it, Sherwood, I will not mention this to you again, and I will not fix it myself or employ anyone else to do so; why you may ask, because I’m a stubborn piece of work. That’s why. Consider it a psychological study in the socio-ramifications of motivating men with repetitive words of infinite negativity to get stuff done.”

He cracked more invisible coconuts.

“I’m serious; this is my last nag on the subject.” And it was.

A month passed.

I tried sponge bathing out of a bucket of steaming hot water. It was messy.

Two months passed. 

I gave a full body rotation method a try—first I’d lay on my back (front bits exposed), then I’d flop onto my front (back bits exposed), then I’d roll side to side (all kinds of stuff freezing off), and then back to my back. By the time I got back to my back, I was usually crying.

Three, four, and then seven months swirled away like the soapy water down the drain at the end of a luxurious soak, and still I nagged not.

I tried showering with my much taller husband but got smacked in the eye with his elbow so many times, I worried about retina damage, and besides he hogged the hot water.

Nine and then ten months passed away like the dew from Heaven. I remained a goose bumpy nag-less wonder: no request, reminder, or repetitive phrase passed my blue tinged lips.

Time continued to pass. He made no effort to bang on the hot water heater with tools or rocks or clenched fists.

How long did it take for my stones-as-tools-man to replace the hot water heater coil without the stimulus or benefit of my nagging you ask.

 I’ll tell you.

ONE YEAR! One frigid bone aching year, that’s how long.

Then when he FINALLY did change out the hot water heater coil he stabbed himself in the knuckle with a screwdriver, down to the tendons and sinew. He tried holding the gaping flesh together with a My Little Pony bandage. No go. It took six stitches to finally cover that knuckle tendon up.
Let’s recap. It took twelve months, six stitches, and the development of a goose flesh phobia on my part, that’s how long.

Abandoning my nag free experiment, I have since honed my harping to a fine and delicate art, surpassed only by my liberal use of satiric and scathing one-liners. I can nag in my sleep. I can nag in reverse. Sometimes I nag using only my eyes and a well-timed twitch. I can’t say that my husband moves any faster, but at least I can make my contribution feel like a sharp stick in the eye of any foot dragging male procrastination.  

Linda (Rub a Dub-Dub) Zern

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