Fussbudget heaven is on the way

Friday, September 10, 2004

Anyone who knows me also knows I am something of a fussbudget. As it turns out, I'm married to one too.

What is a fussbudget? My definition is someone who straightens framed pictures hanging on the walls of other people's houses.

There are other names for fussbudgets. Obsessive compulsive (or is it the other way around?) comes to mind.

What amazes me is how two fussbudgets who have been married nearly 40 years can be so different in their fussing focus.

To tell the truth, I didn't care what color the garbage cans were after we recently painted the garage. I'll admit that the new black containers are attractive, but I would have settled for just about any color.

My wife, on the other hand, can't understand why I stack dishes in the dishwasher exactly the same way every time.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things we have in common to fuss about. That's the sign of a strong marriage. I think.

That, and not letting our petty differences over fussing come between us.

Yessirree, I can just see us on our 75th wedding anniversary being interviewed by some earnest newspaper reporter: To what do you attribute your long marriage?

The obvious answer, of course, is that you eventually reach a certain age when it takes more effort to disagree than any argument is worth. So finally you say "Yes, Dear" and mean it.

But the stock answer for newspaper articles about lengthy marital hitches is: We didn't let the little things get us down.

If you're a fussbudget, though, little things are exactly what get you down.

My wife and I decided a few days ago that if we ever had the guts to go into business for ourselves, we would open a store for the anal retentive.

What would you buy at such a store?

Well, if you don't have any hang-ups at all, you would avoid our store like the plague. But if you're like just about everyone I know, you'll be delighted to know that the store will carry a large selection of miniature picture levels that can be attached to any frame and instantly know whether the picture is hanging really, really, really straight.

And if you're in the market for color-coordinated trash cans for your garage, our store will stock the exact color you want. Always. In just the size you were looking for. Guaranteed.

Our store will stock handy little calendars to hang in your bedroom so you'll know when it's your day to smooth the bedspread all the way up to the headboard or your wife's day to fold it down -- precisely 7 1/2 inches, no more and no less.

Our store will sell calculators that attach to your credit card and automatically figure how much you owe when you and four co-workers go out to lunch and try to split up the check at the end of the meal. There's not a decent fussbudget in the world worth the name who wants to pay for someone else's diet Coke when you only had water.

Our store will have small handheld digital devices to smooth out the turned-down corners of any previously read book.

In a word, our store will be fussbudget heaven.

Who knows? If we franchise our store, the divorce rate might be cut in half. Or more.

And we could have world peace.

Oh. And our store will sell a shock device that zaps George W. Bush every time he says "nukuler" instead of "nuklear." That just drives me crazy.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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