Tim mowed the lawn this weekend. This was not the first time this season that he has done so; the torrential rains this spring have made our grass grow full and green. However, it was the first time he forgot to properly latch the gate.
You may recall that we have two dogs. You might also assume that since we have a backyard and a fence with a gate that latches, that we often let the dogs out in the backyard instead of walking them. Usually they are unintended.
I woke up on Sunday morning, the day after Tim mowed the lawn, and packed my stuff for yoga. I bought a Groupon for the yoga place down the street, and I have been really excited to get back into the yoga game. I’ve missed it a lot, but it’s really expensive when you’re not taking classes through your gym like I used to do. Sunday was to be my first yoga class in a long time. So I got dressed, packed my stuff, got everything ready to go and realized I still had about half an hour before I had to leave. I let the dogs out of their crates (if we have to leave on a weekend morning, we sometimes leave them for whoever is staying behind, who is still asleep – it’s not cruel, I promise!) and let them outside. I made some tea and sat down to get started on a crossword puzzle.
The doorbell rang. At 9:10 on a Sunday morning. Very strange, indeed.
I cautiously answered the door (You really never know who is going to be on the other side of it, and we don’t have one of those peep-hole things since our door is mostly window covered by curtains. We really need to replace that door.) to find my neighbor standing there.
“Hi, do you have a beagle?” he asked.
“Yes…” I responded.
“Well, he is in my back yard and your gate is open. I think he got out.”
“Thank you! We’ll be right over to get him,” I said, closing the door. Then, “TIM! THE DOGS GOT OUT! OH MY GOD!”
He came running down the stairs as I ran out to the backyard to see if Penny was being the good girl she is and was still there. She was not.
Tim and I ran across the street to get Bailey, who was rigged up to a makeshift leash and drinking water from a tupperware bowl (we seriously have the nicest neighbors). I carried him home and Tim ran off to find Penny. We had no idea where she was, and the neighbors hadn’t seen her.
He was gone for 30 minutes. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life.
When he came back carrying her, I felt relief like I had never felt before. When he put her down inside, Bailey was overjoyed to see her, too. He must have known that she had been gone for a long time; maybe he even sensed my worry. I pet the two dogs vigorously, and gave them both hugs, then I turned my attention to Tim.
“You left the gate open after you mowed the lawn yesterday?” I asked.
“Must have,” he responded.
“I. Am. Going. To. KILL YOU.”
He hung his head in shame.
You can’t be too mad at that, so I made him come with me and the dogs on a 3-mile walk since I missed my yoga class I was so excited about and all was forgiven, but this wasn’t his first epic homeowner fail; in the fall, he bumped a knob on the gas stove as he was putting food in the microwave and left for something while I was still asleep. I woke up smelling gas in the bedroom, totally freaked out.
I will probably never let him forget the gas or the gate incidents, but it is more in the nature of good-hearted razzing or whenever I really want something than anything else (except when I’m super angry at him, and then I will bring these things up as proof that I am an all-around better person than he is). I do think, though, that this brings up some interesting questions. When I tell people about these incidents, I get the sense that people generally take an attitude of forgiveness: “Oh, no one is perfect! Don’t be too hard on him! He tries, bless his heart!” whereas when I screw up it’s dismay: “Oh, Ashley! Didn’t you check the gate when you left?” or “You mean to say you don’t triple check the stove and anything you might have plugged in or turned on before you leave the house every day?”
Actually, I do triple check everything I might have plugged in or turned on (and, now, I also triple check the stove) every day before I leave the house. I used to think that this was mostly paranoia with a dash of OCD, but I’m really starting to think that it’s what society tells me to do. If Tim leaves the gas on or gate open, he can just take comfort in the fact that nothing bad happened, whereas if I do something like that, I fear for all of the things that could have happened, even if they didn’t.
Is this a difference in our upbringing? In our personalities? In society’s influence on us?
It might be a little of both, but the media plays a huge role in this. When we see married couples on television or in movies, the husband is generally a doofus, always screwing up, while the wife is neurotic and perfect, always cleaning up after him. We tend to expect the same from real-life couples, even though that shouldn’t be the case.
As for me and Tim, our journey is one of mutual growth. I’m working on checking the house once before I leave, and Tim is also working on checking the house once before he leaves, though in a different way.
Do you find that, in your relationship, you are less likely to be forgiven than your male partner? If so, why do you think this is?