Practising oddities

Some people are characterised by excessive orderliness, perfectionism and attention to details of things. They justify their obscurity as a queer virtue and their oddity as a healthy innovation. Such people deliberate their care with aberrational alternatives to satiate their precision. My wife is one such. Her obsession with perfection is to the wrath of many, more so when purchasing dresses for our grandchildren.

Whenever we go shopping for our granddaughters, she never fails to carry the measuring tape. The best part is when she finds bizarre alternatives in place of tape. She carries an old dress with several measurement computations. If she doesn’t carry an old dress, she will catch hold of the children of other shoppers with vague residual measurements in her memory. She never goes wrong. As a matter of fact, my daughter has become a target of envy among her friends. They resent how she gets such perfect dresses from India sitting in Toronto.

Of her other vagaries, I noticed her bending over the dining table once, carefully placing one hand after another along its surface. Curious, I enquired, “Would you mind telling me what you’re doing?” “I’m measuring the table. I’m going to buy a new tablecloth,” she said.

“But why are you using your hands?” I asked. “To get the dimensions of the table,” she replied, showing me a slip of paper on which she had written, “Four hands wide, four and half hands long.” When I asked about her measuring tape, she said a lady at the shopping mall had forgotten to return the tape.

“Several months ago,” she explained, “I wanted to measure something, but couldn’t find the measuring tape. So I used my hands instead. The system worked so well that I’ve used it ever since when I do not find the measuring tape.”

I nodded as though I understood, and kept my mouth shut. “Interesting,” I said. “What other body parts do you use to measure things?” I asked sarcastically.

“Sometimes I use my feet,” she said. “How do you use your feet?” “Well, for instance, when I bought the living room mat, I checked its dimensions with my feet. It was ten by twelve feet.” “Do you mean ten by twelve of your feet or the tape measure feet?” “My feet,” she said.”

“How did that help you buy the correct mat size?” “I asked the salesman at the store to spread the mat out on the floor. Then I took off my slippers and walked on the mat measuring that distance.”

“Didn’t the salesman think it a bit weird?” “No. He was just happy to sell the mat.” “It’s a remarkable system, but a rather strange one,” I said.

“What’s strange about it?” “An excellent system it is!” I replied defensively.

Normality is much less captivating than the bizarre. There was a time when I would have treated this matter with satire. But that was years ago! In a marriage, one person is always right, and the other is the husband.

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