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  • I have one of those modern marriages that eschews traditional roles. We are both breadwinners and we take turns driving on excursions. Though my wife does our laundry, we both vacuum and make the bed, and I handle the food shopping and cooking. I enjoy the gathering as much as the prep, and that's the source of a marital problem.

    Let's say it's summer and I bring home a half gallon of lemonade, mostly for my kid but I enjoy it too. I wait until she has had some to take any for myself. But when it's about half-gone, I stay away from it because, being a nice guy, I want her to have it. Rather than use the last of it up, I get another carton the next time I go food shopping, and set it aside for when it's needed. My wife eyeballs it, then squints at me and intones, "You're lining things up again, aren't you?"

    This question that isn't really one comes up a lot. Each time, I try to explain how the extra item I just bought is necessary because without it, we will run out of that thing just when we most need it. It's only prudent, but she doesn't buy it. "I don't want it cluttering the kitchen," she responds. "We can do without it. And," she'll add, "why do we need three cans of sardines?" My wife is clearly not Costco material.

    Then she'll explain, "When there's a lot of food around, I feel I have to eat it and it makes me gain weight." That's totally opposed to how I work. I have disciplined myself not to finish small bits of tempting food in the cupboard or fridge so they'll be there for when we really crave those morsels. I can leave one lonely bonbon in a box for months or until I to forget it's there, whichever is longer. Not my wifey.

    And so, I have worked out a stealth strategy. When I bring home treats I suspect will tempt the Missus or cause a row, I quietly stash them in unexpected places. At first I tried under the sink, but it smells gross there. For a while, I loaded sweets into the dishwasher we never use but got found out. So I started to put goodies into containers that I cleverly labeled Banana Pulp, Fish Heads, Soup Bones, Pizza Dough 2009, or some such and filed them in the back of the freezer. Eventually I forget I did that, and when I discover them months later I wonder why we are keeping these weird things around.

    It's useless to explain to my non-shopping spouse how much we can save by buying specials, like 10 tubes of toothpaste or 24 cans of cat food for $10. No matter how great the deal, the stuff offends her eye, as her mouth sternly articulates. I get it and aim to please, so instead I buy five dollars worth. Still a big mistake.

    Once, after getting yelled at for buying a 20-roll pack of toilet paper, I decided to strike back by allowing our supply to run out. Four months later, what did I get? "Great! Let's use up those extra boxes of facial tissue before you get more toilet paper." She simply adores seeing empty cabinets and won't settle for less. But that gives me an idea: I'll get a couple of cabinets, install them in the kitchen, and not put anything in them. That should please her.

    @image: Does the cap, lipstick and eye shadow look good on me?
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