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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on March 13th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 1 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 1

The tank is empty

Krider's wife pushes the limits of the fuel gauge

BY ROB KRIDER

I think my wife is intelligent. I think this because that is what she tells me. I have to believe her, because it does seem like a lot of times she knows stuff I don’t. She uses vocabulary words like integer (instead of just saying number), and she remembers that the symbol for sodium in the Periodic Table is Na. Sodium is essentially salt, so at the dinner table, my “intelligent” wife will ask, “Would you please pass the Na?” These are jokes I don’t even get because I am, by comparison, dumb. To be honest, I forgot all about the Periodic Table. I don’t remember that sort of stuff from high school. When my wife mentioned the Periodic Table, I assumed she was referring to a place to set down a beer, but only occasionally.

Regardless of my recognition of her intelligence, my wife feels the need to continually remind me how smart she is. She always suckers me into taking these online IQ tests, which I ultimately regret taking because no matter how hard I try, she always outscores me. A month will go by, and she will convince me to give it another shot (after I’ve secretly practiced when she wasn’t paying attention), and she outscores me again. She always betters me. It’s like Lucy and Charlie Brown kicking the football. Charlie knows Lucy is going to pull the ball away at the last minute, but ol’ Chuck tries again and again, and Lucy pulls that ball like clockwork on him every time. I do the same thing with these IQ tests: She makes me try over and over again, but my wife always beats me, making me feel like a total blockhead.

But I began to realize it is a bit strange that my wife feels the need to continually remind and prove to me that she is “smart.” I think she bases some of her self-esteem on being the smartest person in the room wherever she is. Statistically and geographically, since I am her husband, most times I am the only one in the room with her. So by default I need to be the dumb one in the room, so she can be the smart one. Intelligence is how she identifies herself; therefore it is important to her that we know our places. She is the educated and analytical one, and I am the one who takes the trash out.

Even though she is intelligent, let’s examine what intelligence really means. Sure, my wife has a great vocabulary; she knows the difference between antonym and synonym without using Google on her smartphone. But if you ask her if we can get a brand new gigantic refrigerator home from Lowes inside the trunk of her Hyundai, she will say, “Yeah, the box will fit.”

She may be smart, but my wife doesn’t know how stuff works. She has no concept of mechanical things or spatial relationships—and frankly, she doesn’t give a rip. You see, she is a very busy person, therefore she can’t take the time to understand concepts like “why a car’s engine needs oil in it.” That is a menial task for a laborer, a dumb person, me, to understand and take care of. She has very important and scholarly things to do, like play Sudoku or watch The Vampire Diaries on Netflix.

Because her understanding of mechanics and spatial relationships is so poor, she will often push things to the limit without realizing how close to disaster she has come. For instance, take the gas gauge on our cars. She doesn’t recognize that gauge as a representation of measurement, as in half of a tank is half full, as in I have used half of my resources. My wife, whom I love, only recognizes one thing on a gas gauge: empty. And not just empty, I mean the well-below-“E”-with-the-gas-light-on, bells-and-whistles-ringing, operating-only-on-fumes sort of empty. At that very moment, a moment when most men would start to panic that they will run out gas, my wife will say, “I’ve got 10 miles to go.” That may seem reasonable to some, but because my wife has such bad concepts of distance, 10 miles might actually be 37.6 miles in a car that gets 27 miles per gallon with only a 16th of a gallon left in the tank.

This gas gauge problem we face at my house is a problem that only I face. Because, miraculously, my wife has never run out of fuel. Somehow—dumb luck, act of God, I don’t know how—she makes it into the driveway every time on fumes. This is good for her. She is home. But it is bad for the car because we live nowhere near a gas station. By unfortunate events, it is always me, the following day, as the dumb laborer on the team, who goes to use the car and realizes it is desperately out of gas.

Part of this is my wife’s fault, but the auto manufacturers are also to blame. They came up with this little feature called DTE (Distance To Empty). If my wife has a DTE showing of four miles and she is three miles from a gas station, she will go ahead and drive right by that gas station and go home instead. Only when the DTE is at zero will she even consider the notion of buying fuel—which really means taking the car home so I can limp the car to the gas station the next day, staring at the DTE of zero, praying and crossing my fingers the whole way I will make it. While I’m nervously driving the car to the gas station, hoping I make it, I think, “My wife isn’t very smart,” but then I realize she has me taking care of it, so really, she’s a genius. I’m just dumb enough to keep doing it.

For obvious reasons, Rob is a proud member  of AAA.