June 30, 2015: The Odd Couple

Oscar to the left and Felix to the right
Stealing a phrase from a friend of mine; 'we have a situation' at my house. I live with Felix and Oscar. The Odd Couple. For those of my age and older, you completely understand of whom I am referring. For those younger and confused, check with your friend, Wikipedia.

This relationship has existed for some time, but has escalated over the last year. Post-marriage, Garrett and I have began spending our weekends with each other's kids and with more overall time in Omaha. Although the result has been a culture shock to both Ben and Garrett, it has been no surprise to me. Most say merging families in re-marriage is hard on the kids. The truth is that it is harder on the step-parents.

Let me just throw out the core of the issue. Ben is a train wreck. This assertion is not a surprise to those who have known him his whole life. As a forever-smiling toddler, when asked his name, he would say "I'm Benny and I'm a train wreck!"

Out of the mouths of babes. Obviously he overheard a comment or two from his parents.

Fast forward 15 or so years and not much has changed. Ben understands his organizational style. I do not. I see piles of clothes on the floor, uncertain of the clean from dirty, and hear frequent and frantic shuffling from searching for lost keys. Ben's typical answer is "It's all good, Mom. I know where my stuff's at and I like it that way."

Over the years I have set the 'Benny bar' for home tidiness lower than my own. In the long run, it has been a concession well worth it; at least in my estimation.

And then Garrett entered the picture. In his defense, Garrett saw the obvious. Things I often ignored. Shoes left in the middle of the floor. Dishes from days prior suddenly appearing in mounds in the sink. And the boys' bathroom...oh my.

I quickly realized that I had a Felix and Oscar situation on my hands. I am sure my tidy and military-like husband was feeling his world turned upside down as well.

Garrett's world is full of routine and careful planning. Every pair of shoes has it's place and a missing shirt in his closet would be noticed by his watchful eye on the same day of disappearance. I appreciate his tidy ways as I gravitate to these same habits. Together we are quite the team with an organized garage and carefully engineered dishwasher loading skills.

In defense of both my messy son and organized husband, they typically co-exist very well, like any good roommates should. It is only extreme 'Ben-isms' that push Garrett over the edge. An example would be Ben adopting two guinea pigs last March on a Sunday and then leaving them at our house and returning to college that same night. George and Randy continue to live in a cage in our garage to Garrett's complete chagrin.

But the best story of late is the story of a pair jeans. My apologies to both of my housemates as this story still makes me laugh and I can't resist sharing.

Let me provide some background so you can better understand my humor.

Garrett typically wears jeans by day. He keeps about four pairs at our Omaha home and cycles them through the week. When he does laundry, without exception, he pulls his jeans out of the washer and carefully drapes them on the banister outside the laundry room. For about twenty-four hours, the jeans air-dry with a perfect crease placed down the jean front. When the drying cycle is complete, Garrett folds them and puts them away. This is his jeans routine.

Also note that Garrett takes very good care of his belongings in general. Maintenance logs are kept on larger purchases and items like clothes and shoes are bought with care and well maintained.

And then there is my Benny. He believe in quantity over quality. A huge fan of Goodwill and on-line shopping for used jerseys, his daily attire has great variation. His clothing choice is most dependent on what is lying on the floor closest to him when he awakes. This routine has often failed Ben when daily clothing choices are limited by school (uniforms) or work (dress code). Disaster ensues when he can't locate his required wear in the sparing minutes his has in the morning.

This was the case a few weeks ago.

After hearing Ben's alarm and no movement, I sent a text to my middle child who was obviously not up. Within minutes, I could hear Ben scrambling down the hall. The sound of running footsteps with background shuffling was the first indicator that something had gone missing in Ben's life. I wrongfully assumed it was his keys.

Ben's summer job of working for the county maintenance crew gets him out of bed early. He works full-time mowing grass at parks and ditches, filling potholes with asphalt, trimming trees, etc... You get the picture.

Now back to Garrett's jeans. Post-Ben departure, Garrett asked the obvious...

"Where did my jeans go?"

Every morning Garrett prepares for me a cup of coffee to start my day. My sweet husband accepts my desire to push the snooze button. His gift of caffeine lures me off of my comfortable mattress. In his route up the stairs with coffee mug in hand, Garrett noticed that the two pairs of jeans he put out to dry the night before were now down to one.

Garrett's words, not the coffee, brought me out of my dead sleep. I immediately remembered Ben running the hallway earlier and his requirement of wearing jeans to work each day. As Garrett turned on the shower. I sent Ben a text.

His response came when I was out of the room and was seen first by Garrett. In shock, Garrett read Ben's answer back to me.


"I may have put them on??? DID HE SERIOUSLY WEAR MY JEANS TO WORK?" was Garrett's exasperated response. And then I did the unthinkable in a very stressful Garrett moment.

Like Chuckles the Clown at a funeral, I got the giggles. The situation and the wording of Ben's text came across to me as funny and I couldn't restrain my reaction.

Garrett wasn't a bit pleased. Both at Ben for taking his jeans and at me for my response. But in the end, Garrett gets the 'stepfather of the year' award for ultimately keeping his cool. We all survived, including the jeans. And Ben apologized to Garrett later. Kumbaya by dinner time.

I have noticed, as of late, that his jeans haven't been left to dry on the outside banister. It appears that Garrett has moved his preferred drying spot to our bedroom closet. And Ben is still having problems finding his jeans in the morning. Yesterday I noticed him wearing a 'fancy' pair with a tapered ankle style as he ran to his car to leave for work. Finding the selection odd, I questioned him on where they came from.

"Oh....I couldn't find my work jeans. I found these in Grant's closet. I think they are from 8th grade"

Noticing the two inch gap between ankle and foot, his story made perfect sense to me. My worry then moved to his socked feet with hopes that he had boots piled within the mounds appearing in the back seat of his car.

I do love my Felix and Oscar. They bring spice to our lives and make me smile every day. As I often remind myself, life would be boring if we were all the same.

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