Dumb and dumber. Or, can two dummies make a right?

Many a time is there when I consider the Doc and I ill-suited as a couple, so different in temperament, likes and behaviours as we are. Then there are times I think we are perhaps ill-suited by virtue of some of our resounding similarities – so alike in our anxieties as we are that neither one can yank the other out of our respective torpors and destructive navel gazing.

A specific example that leaps to mind is our current penchant for believing ourselves to be stupid.  Both so irritatingly racked with debilitating self-doubt that we find each other boring, if not totally repugnant. “Back yourself” he shouts at me exasperatedly, as I mope about my latest failed attempt at whatever. “Gah! I expect more from you!” I scream when he appears to have done something mindless. Two dummies, arrested in our adolescent years, while our peers have shot ahead of us in every way imaginable.

The Doc is not at all stupid. He’s very bright in fact. Enviably quick-witted with some of the best research skills I’ve seen. Thus, from the perspective of being his partner, it’s frustrating to  contend with his indulgent ventures into low self-esteem, particularly when the only barrier really confronting him is resistance to hard graft. I can only hope he thinks the same of me, though I fear there may be moments when he does truly wonder is she actually a dummy? So alarmingly air-headed are my responses to various phenomena at times.

Recently, I have experienced a spate of occurrences in our household which have both pleased and concerned me. On the one hand, it’s always gratifying when you find a new way of doing something. An innovation that allows your life to become ever so slightly easier or more efficient. Yet on the other hand, some of these ‘innovations’ are so blindingly if not painfully obvious that it can be worrying that you missed them in the first place. A glorious huzzah!  moment almost immediately undermined by a why-the-fuck-didn’t-I-do-that-sooner moment. For example, up until going on maternity leave last year, I had been carrying out all work relating to my main client on an extremely antiquated PC (no offence, Steph!). This was partly because their website was maintained through very old software incompatible with Mac, but also because I was labouring under the extremely naive presumption that I needed Outlook in order to access the client’s email system. In preparation for my imminent return to work, I have updated my operating system, transferred all work-related files, tossed the PC into storage and merged my plethora of email accounts. My laptop now hums gleefully, a self-contained hub of industrious activity. But why on Earth didn’t I do this sooner? After all, it’s all rather elementary technical house-keeping. In my defence, until the organisation updated their website platform I would still have had to use the PC; nevertheless, I can’t shake the feeling that had I been just slightly less of a dummy, some of these things may have occurred to me.

(My god, this is so boring. What am I talking about this for?)

An even more disconcerting example was our plug. Months ago (and I mean MONTHS ago, possibly over a year ago), the chain off our bath plug snapped off. This made it impossible to pull it out to release the water each night when the children had finished their nightly bathe. So each night, I reached for the pliers and each night I grappled with the plug in order to yank it out. Eventually I went to B&Q, I went to the hardware shop down the road – neither place had a suitable replacement. I badgered the Doc to buy one online. After a while however, we became so accustomed to this ridiculous evening routine that the impetus for replacing it simply diminished. Like with our using of the oven grill instead of buying a new toaster (that’s been going on over three years now). About a fortnight ago however, the impetus was reignited: the pliers have became so rusted now that they have ceased to work and the nub on the plug so worn down from the nightly use of pliers that it’s almost impossible to grip it. With some gentle prompting and a few moments online, the Doc had ordered a replacement which arrived a couple of days later.

Why did that take us so long?

But wait, it gets dumber.

Within two days of use, the catch connecting the plug and the chain broke – exactly as the previous one had. I fixed it (with the rusty pliers) but after the next use, it had broken again. To avoid any further problems with the bath while we waited for the replacement, I threaded some industrial strength twine through the nub on the plug and tied a large glass bead to the other end of the twine, creating a helpful handle. An effective enough, if impermanent remedy.

And then as I went to bed that night, I was suddenly hit with the idiocy of the entire situation. The twine solution had occurred to me immediately after the new plug had broken. But it had failed to occur to me all those months I wrestled with the pliers, each night cursing and shouting when the plug refused to budge or when I’d managed to stab myself in the hand when the pliers lost their grip. How could such a basic response have eluded me for so long? More to the point, why hadn’t it occurred to the Doc? Are we just a couple of twits?

The short answer is, well, yes. The longer answer is perhaps less denigrating. For the Doc, I would argue that the solution never occurred to him not because he’s stupid, but because he defers to me on all things ‘handy’. For me, I like to think the idiocy is part of a period of my life characterised by the somewhat pejorative term ‘nappy brain’ – a state from which I am only now emerging.  I suppose the fact that I came up with the twine solution as soon as the second plug broke is testament to this emergence; I am beginning to *think* again, as it were, rather than simply operating on autopilot.

When I expressed my disbelief at how something so rudimentary could escape us, the Doc promptly suggested I “relax” and stop “over-analysing” the situation. Perhaps we aren’t stupid. Though we definitely aren’t the sharpest tools in the box.


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