The Five Stages of Expectation

By Russell Richardson 

In the tradition of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, I have found that an expectation has five stages. Field research over a combined 18 years of matrimony has supported my hypothesis. That spans two marriages, for those keeping score.

The five stages of an expectation are as follows.

One: Somebody—e.g., your wife—wants a task done. In a domestic setting, that might be washing dishes, folding laundry, or scraping and painting the entire exterior of your house. As in any combat scenario, never underestimate your adversary’s imagination.

Two: She wants you to do the chore. Men and women may be equals in contemporary America, but when a job involves power tools or acquiring a hernia, the male usually gets the assignment. Yay us. What’s more, an especially creative foe can devise approximately 800,000 ways to torture you. Anticipate the worst when you want to watch sports.

Three: The expectation is unspoken because your wife knows that ordering you around is an unflattering look. Other times, she is, in fact, testing you. Considering that the woman has seen you leave the house in slippers while wearing your shirt inside-out, one wonders why she gives your squirrel-sized brain so much credit. That brings us to…

Four: She wants you to read her mind. Not all the time, of course, because who wants to hang out in that nightmare thicket? Yikes. But when an expectation is afoot, she assumes that you are as telepathic as The Amazing Kreskin. (Google him, youngsters.) And yet, you’re not a wizard, Harry. Thus, inevitably….

Five: She’s disappointed because you failed to meet her expectations, which she should have expected. A fight may ensue. You’ll lose. Take heart, you will have plenty more chances to screw up over the remainder of the marriage. Sadly, there are no points awarded for consistency.

One day your wife will realize that you are not clairvoyant. She will flag the moment with a long, surrendering sigh, followed by visits to the websites of divorce attorneys. After that, my friend, you can expect the worst.


Don’t Leave a Message

By Russell Richardson

Like everyone, I have certain, completely rational fears. Death. Spiders. Voicemail.

When I receive a voicemail, I feel the polite response is to pretend it does not exist.

To call you back would be awkward. My phone is practically an appendage. We both know I avoided your call. What makes you think I’m dying to return it?

These days, anyone who leaves a voicemail is a relative over the age of 50. Nobody else calls. Even bill collectors text: “Yo, it’s T-Mobile. We goin take ur $$$ on the 15th. Aiiight?”

Even in emergencies, modern people text. Once a friend sent me, “My house is on fire!” To which I replied, “Text 9-1-1! Get with the times!”

How long is too long to go without calling back? And what’s an acceptable excuse for not responding? Could I get away with, “Hey! Just came out of my coma. Did Obama win?”

What’s worse is that my answering message is a total lie. It says, “I’m sorry I missed your call. Leave a message, and I’ll call you back pronto!” But an honest recording would say, “Hey, saw your call. Didn’t feel like answering. No hard feelings. I’ll see you around.”

Listen, I do want people to call me. Sometimes it’s a nice feeling to have someone want to spend time on the phone with me. But, if I don’t answer, despite what my answering message says, you don’t need to leave a message.