I got nearly got myself in trouble today by sitting in my Significant Other's pink desk chair in a wet towel.
The pink chair is one I have dragged into her office to use; it originally sat in her daughters' room. It is designed be sat in by a young woman. It's not a great chair for me. Its aesthetically pleasing, egg-shaped bottom doesn't really match mine, which has neither of those qualities, and its raised lip and embracing sides cause me to be clenched in places I would rather not be clenched.
My only other option is her office chair, a chair that is designed to keep the back straight while working. You have to sit on it with your knees under you and your feet behind in order for it to keep your vertebrae aligned. Maybe it works but I don't like it either; it feels as if you are trying to type while perched on the edge of a building.
The phrase "ARE YOU SITTING ON THAT CHAIR IN A WET TOWEL?" was the signal for conflict, a question posed to me in a booming voice more suitable for an evacuation order than a domestic inquiry.
"This waterproof, pink plastic chair?" I replied mildly. "Yes."
That answer, surprisingly, got me off the hook, but I began to reflect on which of my worn and crumbling chairs I would object to her sitting on in one of my stringy, mismatched towels in a wet condition, and I realized there were none. It's because I'm a guy. I don't have furnishings. I have stuff.
She has furnishings, but don't get the impression that my S.O. is one of those women who maintains an immaculate, carefully furnished house with a themed décor in which you shouldn't touch anything unless it is actually handed to you. She has plenty of odd items, like the chairs, and it looks like she's hit IKEA a couple times since her divorce, but she has treasures in here, like this antique desk at which I type AND YES I AM USING A COASTER FOR MY COFFEE CUP. She also has collection of mid-last-century furniture and subscribes to a magazine for those who share her taste for that style, called Atomic Ranch.
I don't mind the atomic furniture. It's nice. It's valuable. And if I ever need to be ruthlessly murdered in my sleep, all I have to do is get caught sitting on the coffee table. I wouldn't own this furniture, though, unless it had accidentally survived from the '50's and found itself in my house by sheer circumstance. I wouldn't make any extra effort to care for it, or make it feel more comfortable by surrounding it with companion furniture from its own era, either.
Furniture, in the male mind, is just more stuff and may be divided into four categories: Stuff you sleep on (beds, couches, hammocks), stuff you put things in (cabinets, shelves, desks), stuff you put things on (tables, end tables, counters) and stuff you sit on (chairs, stools, coffee tables).
Stuff by its very nature is interchangeable. You can sit on your desk. You can fall asleep on the kitchen counter, especially after a party. You can leave a power drill on a table, but if you do, you had better be prepared to hear someone you love bellow sweetly "DID YOU LEAVE A DRILL ON THE OCCASIONAL TABLE?"
And now it's time for panic, because you do not even know what an occasional table is. All the tables you have ever owned were full-time tables.
My lack of sophistication in the area of home furnishings is often laid to the generalized fog testosterone induces in the brain, but I know that's not true, and it becomes obvious when we leave the arena of stuff she cares about and enter the garage. She knows the difference between a hutch and an armoire, but I know the difference between a level-wind and a spinning reel. She knows whether a stool is pub height or bar height, but I know whether a bucket full of rusty metal is a cache of sixteen-penny nails or a set of Allen wrenches. At least I can speak of her furniture in generalized terms (table, chair, thing that the TV sits on) whereas she refers to my stuff in entirely theoretical language (gizmo, thingamadingle, hoopadoodle).
The more I think about that, the more I feel disrespected. I would march downstairs and straighten her out, if I hadn't just discovered that the pink chair I am sitting in, in the wet towel, is in fact made of pink leather, not plastic. Pink leather for the man is like the background radiation from the Big Bang; he doesn't know why it exists, and he seldom thinks about it. And there is a ring on this leather from where the wet towel has forced itself on it, and now I must urgently summon all of my creative powers to figure out a way to blame that on the dog.