You may not know this, but I live with an absent-minded genius with a near-perfect memory. You may wonder how it is that one could be both absent-minded and have a near-perfect memory. Very easily, would be the quick explanation. Most people in possession of very sound powers of recollection and computation (as does my Darling M. Cranky-Face) frequently have some rather glaring failing in a rather large, unrelated portion of their minds, frequently social customs and manners.
In the case of my Darling M. Cranky-Face, his glaring cranial inadequacy lies not in the social, but in the spatial. I don’t mean his ability to look at something and see clearly whether or not it will be too big or small for a space, such as a couch that needs to be wedged between a doorway and a bookcase, or parallel parking; in this aspect he has little to no difficulties. (I must admit, in the course of fairness, that his ability to parallel park is far more consistently reliable than my own, even though I am always the one trying to wedge in the couch.) No, his spatial faults are specific to objects he wishes to put his hands on, especially if he’s about to walk out the door to an appointment.
I have studied this phenomenon in some detail, and found it to be a family trait. We call it, fondly, Reverse Kleptomania. Kleptomania being the unreasonable impulse to take something that belongs to someone else, Reverse Kleptomania is the unreasonable instinct to take something that does belong to you, and hide it from yourself. Unwittingly.
For example, the other day he procured a rather important document from the credit union, brought it home in his special men’s inner coat pocket (why we ladies don’t have them is a mystery to me), showed it to me with a flourish of manly triumph, and stood for a moment perplexed in the middle of the living room while he considered what to do with it. I could see the wheels turning in his behind his eyes. He didn’t want to take it into the kitchen, to the paper mountain that devoured anything it touched, even though that was the proper place for all important paperwork. He didn’t want to leave it in his coat pocket, as he is in the habit of switching between heavy coat, light trench, and outer sweater day-to-day depending upon Ohio’s extremely changeable weather, and he might forget which pocket it was in until he was already at his destination, that not-too-far-off day in the future. With a nearly imperceptible nod to himself, he made his decision, strode to the jam-packed bookshelves next to the couch (I wasn’t kidding about the couch-wedging; it’s a very small place), opened up a random book, stuffed the envelope inside, and put it back on the shelf. If you didn’t know it was there, you would never, ever see it again. Satisfied, he tossed his coat on the couch and marched into the kitchen to have cheese toast.
That was about the point that I put down my knitting, got up, retrieved the very important envelope, and put it in my handbag with the rent check and student loans. You see, I am the Keeper Of The Stuff. I’ve always had a knack for knowing where my things are, and now I must know where his things are as well. Otherwise, that document would have been lost until the next time we moved, or one of us felt like reading Gilgamesh, which I can tell you has not happened since it stared gloomily back at me from my World Literature 101 syllabus.
It’s all right, though. I have adjusted to fill the need. He’s growing accustomed to me moving his things about. He’d have to ask for my help to find it anyway; if I’ve moved his stuff to where I think it should be, I can tell him where it is without getting up and searching with him for ten minutes. It saves a lot of time for us both.
There are occasions when his general lack of awareness of his surroundings and Reverse Kleptomania do become a problem. You see, in addition to Reverse Kleptomania, he is also prone to not finishing whatever it is he is doing, but only barely. He’ll make dinner, but he’ll forget to put away unused ingredients. He’ll take out the garbage, but not put a new liner in the bin. He’ll open the cupboard door to fetch a bowl or glass, then leave it open (and then I’ll bang my head on the frickin’ corner because it’s at just the right height to be above my line of sight but well in range of my towering forehead).
What is one to do? The answer is; follow him around after he’s finished in the kitchen, the bathroom, or whatever his project is. Put away the eggs*, close all the cupboards*, make sure the oven is off, put away the leftovers*, turn off the faucet, let the cat out of the pantry*, fish the balled-up dishcloth out of the garbage disposal and turn off the light.
He’s a good man, after all. He made a leek and mushroom quiche for dinner, before he sat down to a well-earned round of Skyrim. He puts the children through their bedtime routine every night, and whenever I need help with my knitting math, I don’t even have to wait for him to finish killing a dragon before he answers – correctly!
I can live with a little picking-up after and questionably safe eggs. (The cat, on the other hand, is still pretty miffed about the pantry.)
*I did all of these things in the last half-hour alone.