My wife asked me if I could run by my daughter’s elementary school and drop off the book report that she had forgotten to put in her book bag. Hannah’s school was on my way to my work, so I grabbed the report and headed out to my truck.
Upon arriving at the school, I headed to office to find out how to get the forgotten book report into my daughter’s hands. I was greeted by a short, elderly lady with what seemed to be a permanent scowl attached to her face.
“How can I help you?” she said in a scowling voice.
“My daughter forgot her book report, and it’s due today,” I said, holding up the report.
“What is your daughter’s name?” she asked.
“Hannah,” I answered.
“Who is her teacher?” she continued.
“Uhhhh . . . well, I don’t remember her name.”
The short, scowling lady raised an eyebrow and gazed at me for a long silent moment.
“Ok, what grade is she in?” she pressed.
My brain was blank. I could remember going to her kindergarten graduation, and that a few years or so of school had passed since that graduation, but I couldn’t quite remember for sure what grade she currently was in.
“Uhhh . . . I uhhh . . .” I began stammering as a glaze of sweat formed on my forehead.
“Alright, let’s try this, how old is she?” she said in a less than amused tone.
I looked at the office lady and then down at my hands. I held up my fingers as if it might help me somehow count the years of my daughter’s life on this earth. But the fingers didn’t help at all. My failure at being able to answer all the previous questions only added to my anxiety and further blocked my already blank mind.
Embarrassed and not knowing what else to say, I held up my hand and said, “Well, she’s about this tall . . . “
Scenarios like this happen every day all across the planet. They are embarrassing to both the absent-minded husband and his wife alike. But there is hope; these incidents can be easily avoided with some simple instruction and planning.
Wives of absent-minded husbands are usually well aware of their husband’s condition even before marriage. Often, the wife is even aware of what types of things the husband is likely to forget or overlook. In the case of my wife and the book report that needed to be taken to our daughter, my wife knows that I often forget names, birthdays, ages, grades and such. Had she been thinking ahead, it would have been prudent of her to hand me the book report along with a note stating the necessary information needed for the office personnel to get the report into my daughter’s hands.
In extreme cases, such as when the wife notices the absent-minded husband seems even more absent than normal, a note can even be pinned to the husband’s shirt that states the presence of a note in his pocket. It is not out of the realm of possibility that your absent-minded husband may forget that you had provided him with an informational note, but any school office staff worth their salt will easily spot a note pinned to a shirt . . .even a husband’s shirt.
For appointments and functions that a wife wishes her absent-minded husband to attend, a notice should be given one week, the morning of, and an hour before he is expected to be there. The week prior notice does nothing to help ensure that he will remember the appointment, but it does prevent and end the argument that, “you didn’t give me any warning.”
A spot check of your absent minded husband in the morning can ensure he is not leaving the house with toothpaste on his forehead, mismatched shoes, or the ever-common zipper hanging wide open. My own eagle-eyed wife once prevented me from leaving for a job interview with only having shaved the left side of my face (which was the result of the dog puking on the dining room floor in the middle of my shaving, and I forgetting to finish after I had performed the vomit cleanup).
If you are walking together in a public place, warn him before you make any quick turns into the ladies bathroom. If his mind is preoccupied, he will automatically follow you into the bathroom without even noticing where he is. I once inadvertently followed my wife into a ladies bathroom at the mall. My wife was unaware of my mistake until I began talking to her from the stall I had chosen next to hers.
And finally, wives should be ever-vigilant for their absent-minded husband putting things “where I won’t lose it”. Most of these places are exactly the opposite. Things will go there never to return. Somewhere in my own house is the place where I put things so I don’t lose them. I don’t know where that place is, but I can tell you it is full of things.
Jon Ziegler is the author of the humorous short story collection Single Family Asylum. The self-proclaimed nacho enthusiast draws inspiration for his writing from the chaos that takes place within the home he shares with his wife and two daughters.