“Hey, Val…this just fell out of the fridge, and…”
I look up from my laptop to see Cassie holding what my mind immediately identifies as a Kit-Kat bar. So, naturally, before my wife can even finish her sentence, I snatch the chocolate-coated wafer and pop it into my mouth.
Instantly I realize something is wrong, and not just from the look of shock on my wife’s face.
What I have mindlessly tossed into my mouth is not, in fact, a Kit Kat bar but rather a dry, splintery piece of wood.
As Cassie drops to the ground in laughter, I remove the now saliva-covered piece of wood from my mouth and recognize it immediately.
Days before it had fallen off one of our old chairs. And since I am a writer, i.e, one who is without any other practical skills, I put the piece of wood on top of the refrigerator, which in our home also serves as The Place To Put Things When You Want To Forget About Them. It’s a real hodge-podge up there.
Well, apparently the opening and closing of the refrigerator doors caused enough vibration to make the piece of wood fall off, where it ended up first in my wife’s hand and then, moments later, clamped snugly between my molars.
After composing herself, Cassie asks me why in the world I would just blindly toss something into my mouth like that. I explain that I heard her say “fridge,” and then I saw what to me certainly appeared to be a Kit-Kat. And for a man, it doesn’t take much more than that. That’s just how our minds work. We aren’t much different than animals, really. We see food; we eat food—it’s that simple.
Even if the “food” is actually a decades-old piece of pine.
My wife is always telling me that I don’t listen to her; that I never hear a word she says. But that’s not true. Men can’t handle lot of detail, i.e., 95% of the other words in the sentences you speak to us. Therefore we just zone in on the key words. I heard her say “Val,” which grabbed my attention because it happens to be my name. And then I heard her say “fridge,” which also sparked my interest, because that’s where we keep most of our food. At that point my eyes took over, temporarily shutting off my hearing in order to notify my brain that there was a delicious piece of chocolate within my vicinity (even our nervous systems are incapable of multi-tasking). My brain then sent a message via my synapses to my hand, instructing it to grab said Kit Kat and toss it into my mouth.
So you see, I really had no control in the matter. It was millions of years of evolution in action.
So what did we learn here? Well, for one, I learned that maybe I should pay more attention to what my wife is saying. Nothing new there.
Two, it is never wise to toss anything into your mouth before first making sure that it is actually a piece of food. Think about it…it could have been one of my kids’ LEGOs or maybe even a cyanide pill disguised as a Good & Plenty. Of course, that’s just silly. My wife would never give me a Good & Plenty.
And last but not least, I learned that I may have an unhealthy and involuntary proclivity for Kit Kat bars.
But deep down I think I’ve known that all along.