December 7th, 2021


SURPRISE! I'm married to the handyman

Susan Reimer

By Susan Reimer

Published June 29, 2015

My husband is in the first month of retirement and I have learned, to my astonishment, that I have been married all these years to a handyman.

Only Kris Jenner is more surprised than I am.

My husband the sportswriter spent nearly half a century traveling the world and not getting a damn thing done around the house.

I would hire people to do the jobs that absolutely had to be done, and, his feelings hurt, he would mutter something about hiring my friend Betsy to make him a sandwich. "Go ahead," I'd say, unmoved.

But in the last month, he has repaired, power-washed, painted or stained everything except the kids. He has spent most of the time in his garage, unearthing decades worth of stuff that never quite got put away. He makes more trips to Home Depot than he does to the bathroom.

One purchase in particular has inspired chore lust in me: a whiteboard and a handful of colored markers.

I was determined not to be the working spouse who leaves a lengthy "honey do" list for the non-working spouse. Certainly the man has earned some leisure. Or at least the luxury of being his own boss.

But then he went and hung up a whiteboard in the garage, where he records his tasks and reminders.

And where I record mine.

I swear to G0D, it is like somebody handed me a lantern with a genie in it. I write stuff down, and it gets done. It's like a miracle or something.

"Weed the fence." "Turn the compost pile." "Buy Leafgro and mulch." "Cancel DirecTV."

I draw little hearts and flowers, too. I don't want to seem like a total taskmaster. But writing a request on a whiteboard is so much more efficient than having it go in one ear and out the other. Or saying it over again with an audible sigh.

He had a white board at the office. As the self-described Swiss Army knife of sportswriters, he was always working on a long and diverse list of stories. But he never wrote any of them on the whiteboard because he was afraid his abusive editors would come by and add stories to the list when he wasn't looking.

It is a lesson he didn't bring with him into retirement because now I am adding things to his list when he isn't looking.

He says he doesn't mind, and I believe him. He also says that my writing it on his board does not mean that he has accepted the assignment. Nor does its place on the list indicate it's priority for him. I accept both conditions. I am not an overseer, for heaven's sake.

But I think he likes wiping the writing off the board with a little spray bottle of some kind of liquid and a paper towel, because the tasks are disappearing. (Only to be mysteriously replaced by new ones.)

During our tag-team life as parents, we worked different days and different shifts and at first we would communicate with notes on the fridge and messages on voicemail. Then we sent emails to each other and, finally, text messages. Using markers on a whiteboard seems like using Morse code.

But so far, I think it is working just great.

Susan Reimer
The Baltimore Sun

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