Marital advice for the editor

Reflections on the codes, rituals and obligations of the newly wedded man

Words from “the brotherhood of patient waiters”

Words from “the brotherhood of patient waiters”

Jaime O’Neill is a frequent contributor to the CN&R whose work also appears in The Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications.

Evan Tuchinsky, the editor of this paper, is getting married. In fact, by the time this piece sees print, he will have entered into the bonds of matrimony, a kind of bind I have personally known since before Mr. Tuchinsky was born.

While the editor of the paper you hold in your hands was learning to eat with utensils, tie his shoes, ride a bike, avoid bullies on the playground, drive a car, do his own laundry, navigate his way through college, or find a job, I was married. When young Evan was learning to make engine noises to accompany the movements of his plastic trucks and cars in the sandboxes of his childhood, I was already learning the elaborate codes, rituals and obligations that come with the status of a married man.

Before young Evan even knew the word “toilet,” I was already well-trained in the protocol of the toilet seat, a protocol that changes instantly once one enters into a committed relationship with a member of a gender whose toilet practices are different from one’s own. For men, this means raising that toilet seat before the act of urination and then lowering that toilet seat once that act is complete.

Though mothers attempt to instill this protocol in their sons, it is a scientific fact that such maternal training almost never works (only 11 percent of newly married men regularly raised the toilet seat before urination, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA). Even among married adult males, toilet seat training was remarkably hard to learn, and failure to learn this important lesson was found to be one of the leading causes of early divorce.

But young Mr. Tuchinsky has much to learn beyond that essential toilet seat skill. Like most newly married men, it is almost a certainty that Evan believes he tied his knot in order to avail himself of a more dependable and more frequent source of carnal delight, a misapprehension shared by the overwhelming majority of young men who are engaged to be married.

According to a wide range of surveys, 95 percent of young men about to be wed believed that frequency of sexual activity would increase with their redefinition as husbands, an expectation wildly at odds with reality and scientific fact.

What does increase after marriage—dramatically—is time spent waiting. For reasons not yet known to science, women—still the most sought-after marriage partners for men—require much more time to do simple things than men do.

For instance, leaving the house. Studies show that it takes the average male 7.2 seconds to prepare to leave his domicile. Translated into commonplace terms, that means the average man can think of going to the store, get ready to go to the store, and then be in the car and on his way to the store in a fraction of a minute.

Women, on the other hand, take an average of 72.7 minutes to get ready to leave their homes, no matter their destination or the purpose of the outing. That average of 72.7 minutes does not include the return to the house for things they’ve forgotten. In fact, time-and-motion studies reveal that the average man can get ready to go to the store, go to the store, return from the store, and go again for something his wife forgot to tell him to get, and return again, hundreds of times, before the average married woman is even ready to leave.

Surely, there are those who will find these observations to be sexist, but science cannot be denied, and the evidence is conclusive on the relative waiting time spent by married men and married women.

Take, for instance, the time men spend waiting in department stores. Observe those pathetic wretches sitting uncomfortably outside changing rooms as their wives try on undergarments. Other women cast suspicious glances their way, assuming that they are perverts drawn to places where women’s underwear is sold. The resulting humiliation, along with the frustration of waiting, accounts for the disparity in longevity between men and women.

On average, women live almost seven years longer than men. Studies have revealed that every two minutes husbands spent waiting for their wives took a full minute off their life expectancy due to the stress and frustration accompanying those waiting times. Those moments spent waiting for their wives have, statistically, proven deadly for American males.

Especially deadly for newspaper editors is the fact that Mr. Tuchinsky has now taken up residence with a full-time editor of his own. Never again will he tell a story or relay an anecdote without that story or anecdote being edited, as he tells it, by the woman he has wed. At dinner parties or at backyard barbecues, he will be interrupted and reminded of the more-accurate recollections of his spouse.

Even stories about things that happened to young Evan before he met his wife will be subjected to editorial overrides. “No, honey,” she’ll say, “that wasn’t when you lived on Maple Street, that was when you lived on Ritter Drive.” That sort of thing. This loss of editorial control over one’s own life is especially hard on actual editors who feel it is their prerogative to impose their judgment on others, but will surely resent such intrusions when it comes to their own choice of words, recollections and facts.

One last word of warning for the newlywed. Always observe “the rule of three.” The rule of three never varies, and remaining mindful of the consequences of violating it will save Mr. Tuchinsky and all other newly married men a great deal of pain and suffering.

Here’s how it works. Married men are expected to share details of their work day with their wives when they return home each night. Often, there is little to tell, but the ritual must be performed. If, in an innocent attempt to comply with the demands of this ritual, a married man mentions a new employee at work, a young female employee, for instance, said married man must bear in mind that this young woman’s name must not be uttered more than twice.

If, for example, Mr. Tuchinsky tells a little story about the new hire and her rather endearing habit of repeating a word or phrase, it is likely that Mrs. Tuchinsky will find that initial story amusing, but is almost certain she will be less amused when that story is followed a short time later with another story about the lovely new employee’s charming little habit of mispronouncing a word.

All is not yet lost, however, unless the aforementioned Mr. Tuchinsky makes the error of telling a third story about the young woman in question, a critical act of over-mentioning that will, inevitably, lead to more waiting time between bouts of the very marital relations that led to marriage in the first place.

As an old married man, I welcome the editor of this publication to our brotherhood of patient waiters, hoping that the change in his marital status will not make him any less pleasant to write for.