Java Man (Man-erism: Drinking too much coffee)

Years ago, I wrote a book (unpublished) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I’m now posting these habits on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife. 

The habit below is from the section Cooking Is A Contact Sport 

I’m addicted to coffee.

I inherited this trait. Both my parents drink coffee like a desert absorbs rain. My dad used to have a 10-cup coffee maker that separated out the first two cups to be brewed, as those are usually bitter. It then gave you cups 3-8. After you finished that, you could flip a switch and cups 1-2 would then be mixed with cups 9-10, usually the weakest of a pot.

My doctor has recommended I cut back. My wife, who wishes I would drink Japanese tea like she does, concurs. I feel I have reduced my consumption, but it’s hard to tell. When I went into an office, I used to prep my coffee the night before so it would be ready when I woke up. I had an alarm to rouse me each day, but I never needed it. The sound of the coffee machine starting up accomplished the same thing.

Years ago, when we lived in Portland, I worked off and on in a big pink building that had a well-known coffee chain on the first floor. When we were preparing to move from Portland to Georgia, my wife asked, “Who do you think will miss you the most?”

“The crew from Starbuck’s.”

Mo laughed. “Seriously?”

“Just partially. The manager promised me free drinks and desserts every day for my last week in the building.”

“Oh, the buy a few thousand, get a few free special.”

It used to chafe my wife that I took coffee in the car whenever we would go places. She finally got used to it. She also got used to the coffee spots on the floor mats.

Even drinking decaf like I do, I know I still need to drink less coffee. I’ve read articles about studies that suggest massive amounts of coffee will ward off certain cancers, but know that acid reflux will catch up with me and no pill will help. My wife likes to remind me that decaf doesn’t mean “no caffeine,” but just that the caffeine is at a reduced level. She once told me my decaf intake reminds her of the old joke of the person who goes into a restaurant and orders two diet specials.

Recently, though, she’s been hinting at a new strategy. The other day she casually mentioned that she really hates kissing someone with coffee breath and that if I don’t cut back then she might be forced to do so.

If anything has the possibility of getting me to lower my consumption, it’s a threat like that.

Postscript: My wife hates the Java Man title of this vignette as she thinks it makes me sound like Ross from friends.

My Fault (Man-erism: Thinking I Affect My Teams)

Years ago, I wrote a book (never published) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I’m now posting these habits weekly on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife.

The habit below is from the section Free Throws from the Line of Scrimmage

When I watch sports on TV, it drives my wife nuts. I follow several teams at both the professional and collegiate levels. However, the one I watch most is Auburn University. Like any sports fan, I gyrate around as if my movements will compel our running backs through the other team’s defense. Seeing this, my wife says, “You should just turn the thing off and read the score in the morning. Nothing you do will change the outcome.”

I thought her opinion would change if I could just introduce her to the spirit of it all. Her alma mater, Drew University, doesn’t have football or any other major sport. So, I decided to take her to her first college football game.

Auburn vs. Alabama.

Yes, I know. Taking someone to their first college game and having it be the Iron Bowl. It’s like taking someone who’s never been in an airplane and making their first ride a fighter jet.

It was 1999 and we’d been married only a few years. This game was Alabama’s fifth trip to Auburn, as the series had been played for many years in Birmingham. Auburn won the first four meetings in Auburn but lost that day. I knew the reason.

“It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have done it,” I said.

“What?” my wife asked.

“It’s my fault we lost. I shouldn’t have brought you.”

Yes, I know saying that to my lovely wife makes me a jackass. Still, I vowed to never take her to another game.

This isn’t the only time my actions hurt my team. I also ended Auburn’s 15-game winning streak during the 2003-2004 seasons. How? Well, when we lived in Oregon, I did an e-mail column that I sent out to the Auburn faithful in the Northwest. I enjoyed writing it, but my wife hated it, saying this hobby of mine took up too much time. After a devastating loss to Georgia in 2003, I gave in to her and ended my column. The loss to Georgia was followed with wins over Alabama and Wisconsin. Clearly, it was my writing the column that contributed to the losses, so I didn’t write it the next season at all. The football team went 13-0.

Prior to the 2005 season, my wife came to me and said, “Honey, I’m sorry I made you end your column a couple of years ago.”

I was stunned, “What made you change your mind?”

“I read all the e-mails you got after you ended it. A lot of people really enjoyed it. I also went into the Sent file and read some of your stuff. It’s not bad.”

Ecstatic, I started anew with the 2005 opener against Georgia Tech.

Auburn lost.

No matter how much the offensive coordinator criticized his own game plan and play calling, I knew it was my fault. All that was left was for Auburn to confiscate my computer.

I have tried explaining this level of karma to my wife, but her response was that I’m nuts. Eventually, though, she tried reverse psychology. After one loss, my wife said, “You’re right. It was your fault. Maybe if you hadn’t watched the game, they would have won.”

I don’t even want to think about going there.

Postscript: The author also takes responsibility for ending the Atlanta Braves string of 14 straight Division titles, but it would take too long to explain why.

Coin This (Man-erism: Piling Spare Change Through the House)

Years ago, I wrote a book (never published) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I’m now posting these habits weekly on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife.

The habit below is from the section House Rules

My maternal grandfather collected coins. The pride of his collection was a 1909-S V.D.B. penny, worth anywhere from $350 – $1100 today. He and I often discussed his hobby. By age six, I knew about wheat pennies and the locations of the U.S. Mint. Though I enjoyed those talks with my grandfather, who passed away when I was seven, I never became the collector he was.

My wife disagrees.

“What’s this doing here?” she asked one evening.

“Uh…can you be more specific?”

“This pile of coins.”

“It’s my change from the day.”

“Why did you leave it here?”

“Because I’ll use it tomorrow?”

“Can you put it out of sight, please? That’s why I set aside drawers for you downstairs…so you can put away your stuff.”

I sighed. “Ok. I’ll take care of it.”

“Thanks. While you’re at it, there’s another pile on the desk next to the fridge, and one upstairs on the end table beside our bed. I’d appreciate it if you’d get those, too.”

It used to be worse. When we lived in our previous house, I would leave the change in whatever pile I created and start the next day with bills. The unsightly piles grew larger, along with my wife’s frustration. She began setting out empty jars, small boxes, etc. for me to drop my change in. One time, I brought home some coin roll packages; we rolled up over $150 and still had a huge pile left.

She finally asked for reason for this habit. “Tell me, please, why you leave your coins in a pile?”

For the briefest of moments, I got a little irritated in a way only a male can. “Honey, I do it for you.”

“For me? Yeah, right.”

“No, seriously. You’re putting together five collections of those state quarters. That means you need ten of each state, with five from the Philadelphia mint and five from the Denver mint.”

“That explains the quarters. What about the rest of it?”

“I figure I’ll split them out later.”

“And you never get around to doing it.”

I got the message about my “coin collection.” She created a spot for me to deposit the state quarters. I started leaving the other coins in one specific place every day, grabbing them and using them the next day for coffee. However, there was one instance where my wife forgave my collecting habit. After getting coffee one afternoon at a Starbuck’s, I scanned my change and noticed one of the coins looked odd. I knew it was a dime, but a type I’d never seen. I checked the year and saw it was from the early 1900s. I was amazed it had been in circulation for so long.

I looked online as soon as I got home, and discovered that it’s value was somewhere between $5-$10.

My wife maintains it’s the only thing of “value” I ever got from Starbuck’s.

Postscript: For those who are interested, the “S” in the 1909-S V.D.B. stands for San Francisco, the place where it was minted. The V.D.B. stands for Victor David Brenner, the man who designed the image of Lincoln for the penny.

Also, the Philadelphia and Denver mints are denoted by the “D” and “P” marks found just below the year shown on the coin.

The Rest of the Story (Habit: Selective Memory)

Years ago, I wrote a book (never published) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I’m now posting these habits weekly on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife. The habit below is from the section First Comes “II Do.” Then Comes “You Don’t.”

In January 1994, I faced a huge problem. At the time, I was living in Tokyo and worked in advertising sales for a magazine publisher. Due to problems with my visa, I needed to leave Japan within two weeks. I’d lived there over three years and wanted to stay longer. However, as the Japanese government views overstaying one’s visa as breaking the law, I spent my remaining time trying to fix the situation. During those two weeks, my then girlfriend visited me in Tokyo. While we were discussing my options, she asked if I wanted to get married. Unbeknownst to her, I had my mother’s engagement ring. I pulled it out and said, “Yes!”

Of all the stories I tell that bother my wife, the one about how we became engaged annoys her the most. The story is accurate, though, in her opinion, I leave out numerous details. However, it’s not only my recollection of that evening that she questions. She claims my memory of our entire dating life is faulty.

I met my wife in Japan in March 1993. At the time, I worked for a company in Osaka. She worked for a hotel on Awaji Island, a tourist spot off the coast of Kobe. My friends and I went to Awaji during the off-season, hoping to get away from the city. We succeeded beyond measure; the place seemed deserted. More people visited Gilligan’s Island than came to Awaji Island while we were there.

The hotel where my wife worked offered monthly classical concerts as part of a weekend package to increase off-season business. With NOTHING else to do, my friends and I went into the hotel to ask about the concert.

The front desk clerk saw us enter and, concerned we might not speak Japanese, fetched my wife as she speaks English. We ended up at the concert, even attending a party afterwards. At the party, I got my wife’s phone number and called her a week later. What really happened that night, though, is still a debated topic. The stories from each of us:

Me: I was immediately attracted to her from the minute I saw her and decided I had to get to know her better.

Her: You hit on the violinist, an attractive Japanese woman in a low-cut blue dress with a huge stuff job. After striking out, you introduced yourself to me.

Me: Our first date was at a nice Italian restaurant in Osaka.

Her: The food wasn’t great, but Walt was paying.

Me: I was devoted to her from the beginning.

Her: You were dating other girls besides me. They just lived farther away.

Me: I knew she was the only girl for me.

Her: You knew you would never find anyone else to put up with you.

So, when I tell people that she proposed, she lets them know her side, stating I’d already mentioned prior to that evening that I wanted to get married and that she had turned me down, saying we should date for at least a year. That January night, her question of us getting married was a discussion item; she was caught off guard by the ring (as well as my “crying” about possibly being deported and not knowing when I would see her again).

Oh well. It’s been 28 years since that night in Tokyo. And after all that time, how we got together is less important that the fact that we still are together, which will likely end as soon as she reads this essay in print.

Ignorance and Selective Bliss (Habit: Telling Her What She Doesn’t Want to Know)

Years ago, I wrote a book (never published) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I’m now posting these habits weekly on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife.

The habit below is from the section House Rules

A few weeks after we arrived in Georgia, we received an e-mail from a former neighbor in Oregon. It read:

“Guess what! Your house is back on the market already. The new owners made some upgrades: new paint, crown moldings, hardwood floors, etc. It looks nice.”

The news surprised us. The buyers had presented themselves as a couple looking for a primary residence, not flippers. I went on-line to check the price. The buyers were asking around 25% more than they had paid for it.

Are you kidding me?!

The upgrades made would increase the value, but 25%?!

I debated telling my wife. I knew she’d immediately ask, “Why did you check? Why did you need to know?” I would then have to admit that I was curious, a comment which would have raised the hair on more than just her neck. She feels there are many things in life about which I am too curious. For her, ignorance is sometimes bliss. Finding out the new price of our old residence fell into that category.

I knew it would upset her, yet I thought keeping it from her a bad idea. If our neighbor e-mailed us the new asking price, I wouldn’t be able to hide from her that I already knew. (Can’t help it. I’m a lousy liar.)

I told her, sending her into immediate remorse.

She looked at me . . . stunned.

“Did we sell too low?” she asked.

“Our selling price was above what other houses in the subdivision, houses with the same floor plan, went for in the previous 6-9 months.”

“Could we have gotten that much more?”

“We probably could have gotten a little more, I thought, if we’d added in a higher amount that reflected additional recent changes in property values. Still, the price was fair and set to move quickly.”

I listed additional reasons for her. “Our house sold in a few days. We might not have gotten into our current house, had not the previous one sold so quickly. Also, I wanted you and the boys with me in Georgia, not back in Oregon trying to sell our home.” I ended with, “Selling a house is like selling a stock . . . impossible to time the peak.”

“You wouldn’t check a stock price after you sold it,” she said.

I concurred. With a stock, the transaction’s over. The only reason to check it is if you might be buying it again. That wouldn’t apply with a house.

We checked on our old place once a month for several months, watching the price drop. Eventually, it hit a point where my wife relaxed about it, convinced we hadn’t sold it too low.

At least until she started looking at the new construction in our subdivision and started wondering if we paid too much for our current place.

Size Matters (Habit: Mixing up the kids’ clothes)

Years ago, I wrote a book (never published) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I’m now posting these habits weekly on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife.

The habit below is from the section House Rules

My boys are ages 23 and 19. My older son is of average height, maybe a little taller or shorter depending on what statistics you look at. My younger son is the tallest in the family and built like a football player in pads. These days, it’s easy to tell the kids’ clothes apart.

It wasn’t always so.

When they were young, my older son was of course taller and able to exert his authority. My wife and remember a day many years ago when our younger son ran into a room crying. We asked what was wrong. Our younger son responded that his older brother had “hit him back.”

As they grew, there was a period where my younger son caught up with his brother and also periods where both of them surpassed their mother’s height. It’s this period that gave me the most trouble.

When it started, I was only trying to be helpful. My wife would finish the laundry, fold it nicely, and then set it in the sum room downstairs with the intent of taking the clothes upstairs later. When I see the clothes, I take them upstairs and put them away as a surprise. However, my wife usually ended up being surprised the next morning when she tried to get the boys ready for school or whatever outing she planned.

“Honey, you do know which dresser is which for our kids?” she asked me one evening.

“Yes, our younger son has the shorter dresser. Our older son has the taller one. w’s is the taller one. The dressers are also in their separate rooms. Why?”

“Because you put their clothes in the wrong dressers.”

“I could of sworn I put them away correctly.”

“You need to look at the labels and sizes.”

Granted, I was guesstimating, based on how big the clothes looked. I tried a few more times, but I still got them wrong. Sometimes, my sons found out before their mother. They would come downstairs after their baths/showers, laughing and wearing each other clothes.

One day, my wife finally admitted I was hopeless on this issue. “I want you to stop putting away the clothes,” she said.

“What’s wrong this time?”

It turned out I put our older son’s jeans in her dresser.

“Well, you can fit in his clothes,” I commented.

“Yes, but I don’t normally buy my clothes from Gap Kids.”

In my defense, I think I have a good reason for my confusion. The kids grew fast and early on my younger son would wear his brother’s hand-me-downs. Clothes I used to see on one I now see on the other. As for mixing up my wife’s and son’s jeans, even my wife concurred that, for a brief time, their clothes were the same size. Still, it was irritating for her to deal with.

I took her advice and let her do it. There were mornings our kids would wake up, thinking they had clean clothes for school and then discovering the clothes belonged to their sibling. When I stopped putting the clothes away this stopped.

But there was a bigger reason.

I realized I never wanted my still young son going through his Mom’s dresser to look for his jeans. There were some questions in life that I wasn’t ready to answer yet.

The photo is free clipart from

Putting Her Foot Down (Habit: Putting Shoes in the Wash)

Years ago, I wrote a book (never published) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I’m now posting these habits weekly on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife.

The habit below is from the section First Comes “II Do.” Then Comes “You Don’t.”

The Japanese don’t wear shoes in the house. I learned how serious this custom was soon after I arrived in Japan. Within my first week, I heard an urban legend about an American in Tokyo that lost his finger when his ring got caught in a cab door. The American caught the driver’s attention and asked to be taken to the hospital.

Upon arrival, he ran into the emergency room, went up to the intake nurse, and asked for help. The nurse looked at the man, his bleeding hand, and his severed finger, and then pointed him towards the entrance and said, “Remove your shoes.”

I admit this is a good practice. Given what our shoes step on outside, removing them at the door appears to be a hygienic way to live. So, from the time Mo and I got our first place together, we’ve always removed our shoes when we get home. Still, I didn’t have any appreciation for the thoughts behind this custom.

Then came the first time I did our laundry.

Moving in with wife, I wanted to be helpful around the apartment and do my share of the chores. The scream caught me off guard.

“Honey,” my wife yelled, “come here!”

I raced to the laundry room, figuring that my wife had lost one of her fingers somehow. Instead, she stood there, fingers and all with no blood anywhere, pointing at the open dryer. “You washed your tennis shoes with my clothes!”

“Uh . . . yes,” I said.

“The bottoms of shoes are disgusting! Wash them alone! Wash them with your clothes! Don’t EVER wash them with mine!”

I will never forget the glare she gave me that day, or the colorful Japanese vocabulary she uttered. I made a mental note to never do it again.

If you’d seen the horrified look on her face, you wouldn’t forget either.

Does the man in your life ever mix items in the washing machine that shouldn’t be mixed?

Tsundoku (Habit: Owning Too Many Books)

Years ago, I wrote a book (never published) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I’m now posting these habits weekly on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife.

The habit below is from the section House Rules.

Tsundoku is a word that many Japanese women, my wife among them, use to describe a certain habit of the men in their lives . . . having lots of books piled up everywhere that they never read. When my wife first told me about this word, she said it meant “worthless pile.” The word is so prevalent now that it has entered the English language. On a recent birthday, my wife gave me a coffee cup and t-shirt with the word on it to celebrate.

My wife is right. I have a lot of books. I took books with me when I moved to Japan, bought more there, and amassed a small library. While living in the Osaka area, I used to do children’s sermons at the church I attended. One day, I brought in a backpack, opened it, took out over 60 books, and posed the following question:

“Can anybody tell me what these books have in common?”

One kid raised his hand. “They’re all books.”

I laughed and asked for another volunteer. Seeing none, I filled the kids in: “The thing these books have in common is I haven’t read them yet.”

The point of my sermon was that having a Bible does you no good unless you read it. No one asked me why I might have that many unread books lying around. Nor, I guess, did anyone fathom that it was just a small part of my collection. When I left Japan, it took twelve boxes to ship my books home.

My collection of books continues to grow, vexing my wife. There are evenings when I say things like, “Honey, where’s the book I bought yesterday? I left the bag on the table.”

“I took it upstairs and put it away.”


“In the walk-in closet. I added it to that pile of books you plan to read soon.”

I understand her frustration and now have a rule for myself. I will not buy a book unless it will be one of the next five books I read. Of course, given that I rarely read more than two books before buying a new one, I almost never get to books not in my top two. I’ve tried culling my collection, donating books to the library or taking them to used bookstores to exchange for credits on new books. I’ve even donated books that I’ve yet to read, realizing I wouldn’t get to them any time soon. Yet, the pile continues to grow.

I read a lot of e-books these days, so there is hope that the pile will become manageable. For now, though, I have filled the bookcase that was built into the house, the bookcase in my office, the antique bookcase that my wife fell in love with, the makeshift bookcase in the walk-in closet, the bookcase in our upstairs loft, the bookcase in . . .

Oh well, maybe my wife is wife is right about this.

Do You Hear What I Hear (Habit: Selective Hearing)

Years ago, I wrote a book (never published) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I’m now posting these habits weekly on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife.

The habit below is from the section That Was Cute Before We Were Married.

One of things my wife often comments on in our marriage is how amazed she is by my hearing. It isn’t that I can hear high-pitched sounds like a dog or low-pitched ones like an elephant. The sounds I can hear are are within the standard human register. What my wife complains about is that she can be yelling for me and I won’t hear her, but she can utter certain words almost silently and I will come running.

As proof, she cites an incident that happened at our house one Sunday morning. It was about 7:00 a.m. The kids were asleep and my wife and I were trying to enjoy a last few quiet moments before they woke up.

The silence was broken by a faint noise that, for a few seconds, I could not place. When it hit me what it was, I said to her, “Honey, your cell phone’s ringing.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“I’m going to check it out.”

“Get it later,” she said

“No. Need to check it out. It’s early. Could be an emergency.”

Given how faint the ring was, I knew her phone had to be downstairs. I looked around, but couldn’t find it. I called upstairs, “Do you remember where you put your phone?”

“I think it’s in my purse,” she said.

I saw her purse on the kitchen table. I walked over, lifted the cover flap, and started checking the pockets until I located the phone. Displayed on the readout were the words “1 missed call.”

I checked the number. I didn’t recognize it, but it had a New York area code. Since we no longer have friends in New York, I figured it was likely a wrong number. The phone then beeped, letting me know we had a voice mail. I checked it, only to hear the message, “Rachel, it’s Monica. I’m in a cab and I’ve just crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. You better be there.”

The surreal Friends-type moment was lost on me at that hour, so I returned to bed.

“Who was it?” my wife asked

“Wrong number,” I responded.

My wife chided me for just letting it go and then dialed Monica back, suggesting that she should try calling Rachel again. Then she looked at me and asked a question every husband has heard in some form. “How the heck could you hear that cell phone, yet you can’t hear me when I am YELLING for you?”

I thought about it for a second and suggested a few things.

“Well, our house has a two-story family room next to our kitchen. Sounds emanating from this area are audible in most of the house, including our bedroom. Therefore, if a TV or radio is on in this area, you can hear the sound in many of the rooms upstairs, though you may not be able to hear what is being said.

My wife looked unconvinced, though it may have just been my glassed-over eyes, so I kept going. (Yes, I know. My mistake.)

“Given where the cell phone was and where we were at the time of the call, I could hear the ring,” I said. “Also, the house was dead silent when the phone rang. If there were many distractions in the house, then yes. I would not have heard it ring. However, with nothing to distract me (and I’m not referring to the kids), I was able to hear the ring even though you couldn’t.”

“Yeah, right,” my wife said.

In her opinion, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. For example, I love my alma mater, Auburn University. My wife is convinced that somebody can say the word “Auburn” and I will hear it across a noisy, crowded room. Further, not only can I hear it clearly, but when the conversation pertains to Auburn football, my wife is convinced I can’t hear anything else.

“You still haven’t answered my question,” my wife said.

“Which is?”

“How come you can’t hear me when I’m yelling for you?! The other day, I was in the bedroom and you were in the kitchen. I called for you and you didn’t hear a thing!”

“You were in the walk-in closet. You were three rooms from me. Besides, it wasn’t exactly quiet. I was preparing dinner. The TV was on. Of course, I couldn’t hear you.”

“You’re full of it!”

Complaints about my “selective hearing” aren’t new. We had the same issue in our prior house in Oregon and it was half the size of our house in Georgia. And no amount of me saying, “Well, your voice has to travel down the stairs and circle around the walls. There’s plenty of opportunity for the sound to be absorbed,” does anything to change her feeling on it.

“No,” she says. “This is your way of showing your true feelings.”

The guilt gets heavy. “I’m sorry it looks that way. It’s not the way I feel.”

Maybe I can hear certain sounds better than others. I don’t know why the ring of a cell phone or the discussion of college football cuts through so cleanly. Maybe it’s a male thing. I know of no way to make that cell phone ring sound louder. However, I do have one question. What do you think would happen if I casually said in a soft voice, “Do you want to go shopping for diamonds?”

Yeah…my thoughts exactly.

What’s In The Box (Habit: Leaving Empty Boxes in the Freezer and Pantry)

From the section on House Rules

Back when we lived in Portland, my wife and I learned of this amazing gourmet cookie called “Ugly White Chocolate Raspberry.” We could only get them in Seattle at the time, so when we visited friends up there or made an occasional shopping trip, we would always pick up a few boxes, bring them home, and keep them in the freezer.

Craving a cookie one afternoon, my wife opened the freezer and began to search. “Where are the cookies?” she asked.

“What cookies?” I responded, trying to sound innocent.

“The gourmet ones we bought in Seattle.”

“Oh, those cookies. They’re in the freezer, last I saw. Did you check?”

“Yes,” she said


“The box is there. It’s empty.”


“Honey,” her tone carried the exasperation of a point that I was missing, “we had two boxes of those cookies. There were eight cookies in each box. I ate two of them. What happened to the other fourteen?”

“Uh, not sure.”

“Do you have any ideas?”

“Yes,” I said. “Next time we go to Seattle, we should buy four boxes. They keep well in freezer.”

“Agreed, but why is there an empty box in the freezer.”

“Not sure.”

I guess I did eat the other fourteen cookies. My wife tried to make them last. With less self-control, I downed one maybe every other day or so, going through the boxes in less than a month. (Okay, in about two weeks.) My wife was disappointed to discover I’d eaten the cookies. However, it was finding the empty box in the freezer that bothered her more.

It’s happened before. She once had two cereal-box size boxes of her favorite Japanese treats (Pocky) in the pantry.

“You ate all of them,” she said.

“No. There’s a whole ‘nother box in there.”

“Why didn’t you throw away the empty box?”

“It’s empty? I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah, right.”

I do know I’m not the only person who does this. At work one morning, I opened the freezer in the break room to store my meal until lunch. I saw a few boxes of Dove bars there and moved them around to make room. One of the boxes was empty. When I later mentioned the empty box to some of the women in my office, they all chimed in, “It must have been a guy.”

Then one of them grilled me. “My husband is the same way. Why do men do that?”

I thought about it briefly. “We’re embarrassed. The treats should last longer than they do. By leaving the empty box, we hope the women in our lives will not notice that the contents are gone. We figure we’ll throw the box away in a couple of weeks.”

“Bull$^!t,” one responded. “Men are just lazy.”

I tried to defend myself. However, I was done before I started. “So, Walt,” one said, “what’d you do with the box?”


“There’s a garbage can next to the fridge. What’d you do with the box?”

I admitted I’d left it in the freezer.

At our current house in Georgia one morning, my younger son asked for a breakfast bar. I went to the pantry, grabbed the box, and discovered it was empty.

“We’re out,” I said. “How about some yogurt or cereal?”

Overhearing, my wife said, “We can’t be out. There’s a box in the pantry.”

“It’s empty,” I said.

“Who ate the last cereal bar?”

My older son confessed. “I did, Mommy.”

She looked at him sternly. “Next time. Throw away the box, please.”

I tried to stifle a laugh. My wife then smiled at me and said, “He’s definitely your son.”

Postscript: For those interested, the above-mentioned cookies are called “ugly,” as something in the baking process turns them green. They are still great and especially so just out of the freezer. A link to Cougar Mountain Baking Company can be found here. Pocky can likely be found in any large Asian foods grocery store nationwide.