Like a lot of Chinese-Americans, my husband isn’t into fanfare. He doesn’t make a big deal out of the delicious meals he cooks. He presents me with seedlings for my garden that I had no idea were germinating in his greenhouse.
I only found out about a huge bonus he got from work when I found it on our checking account.
Compared to all the mediocre white males who constantly tout their non-accomplishments (see the Trump Administration for hundreds of examples), Andy’s reticence seems like an excellent characteristic.
Alas. Information hoarding has a dark side.
Last year, black duffle bag appeared in the back of my car. I figured it was Andy’s gym clothes, since some mornings he goes to the gym before work. Since I needed to load over 100 pounds of dog, I took the duffle bag out and left it in the garage.
It reappeared in the car a few days later.
I took it out again.
The Dance of the Black Duffle went on until my husband finally said, “The earthquake kit does you no good unless you actually leave it in the car!”
I said, “What are you—is THAT what’s in the damned duffle bag?!”
“Yes! There’s a flashlight, duct tape, a utility knife—”
“That sounds more like an abduction kit than an earthquake kit! Why didn’t you label it or tell me?”
“Why didn’t you look in it?”
“It looks like a gym bag, I thought it just had your dirty clothes in it or something. Why wouldn’t you just tell me, ‘Hey, I put an earthquake kit in your car?’”
“I know I did.”
“If you had, I would have known what it was. And you do this all the time. YOU think mouths are only for eating. I think they’re useful for communication.”
Andy could only laugh because he knew I spoke truth.
Due to COVID-19, the County of Los Angeles recently decreed that everyone would need a face covering when going out into the community.
I told Andy that my friend JM was working on masks for us all.
He said, “There are masks in your earthquake kit in your car.” (“Dumbass” was implied but not spoken aloud.)
“Good job. Thanks, honey.”
I finally checked out the black duffle. The kit contained 3 liters of water, 6 granola bars, a flashlight, batteries, a cellphone battery—and an unopened pack of 3M N95 masks.
I went flying back to the husband and said, “You didn’t tell me we had N95 masks! Is that what you’ve been using when you go out?!”
“And you have the same kit with two unused N95 masks in your car?!”
“Oh. my. God. Those things are like gold. Healthcare workers like our Nurse Friend and Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister haven’t been able to get them and desperately need them and we’ve had them sitting in OUR CARS?! I am totally sending them to Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister!”
“You can keep your used one, Mr. Asthma, but JM is making masks and that’s good enough for me and Baby D. Healthcare workers need those N95s, they don’t need private citizens stockpiling them!”
A few days later, I shared this “clueless husband” story with a Soccer Dad friend. Soccer Dad, shamefaced, admitted that he also had unused N95 masks—over a dozen from the previous year, leftovers from a mold removal project.
My friend JM made Soccer Dad a cloth mask, too. Within days, the N95s had gone to a NICU nurse and my grateful Nurse Friend.
Where they belonged.
Fellow Californians, check your kits! If you’ve got N95s and are not immunosuppressed, think about donating them to healthcare/ essential workers and getting a stylish cloth mask instead.