I love my wife.
As she left the house, she'd noticed that I was playing a game. If Robin is leaving the house and, as she's doing so, she sees me playing a video game, she will give me some sort of chore - there's no way she can stop herself: it's Pavlovian.
This time it was "Vacuum the rug." Which was followed by the clunk of the front door, the soft rumble of the van pulling away from the house and then nothing but a silence in which I sat, pensive.
I glanced around. OK, the rug wasn't immaculate, that was certainly true. It was hardly in such a condition as to demand a vacuuming, though. There's a clear point at which a rug or carpet is ready for vacuuming, in my opinion, and that point is "when it's crunchy". Even then, it's not what you'd call vital. In lots of the places I've lived, especially as a bachelor, I never had a vacuum at all. Sometimes, yes, walking across the living room required heavy boots - but no one ever died or anything. I looked at the rug once more.
A few hours later, Robin returns.
After unloading the seventy-five child bags and the child from the van, she hunts me down; finding me, by a fluke, playing a video game (really her detective skills are amazing).
"Did you vacuum?" she asks, her tone swaying unsurely between conversational and murderous.
"What do you think?" (Cleverly, here, I'm indignant yet inscrutable - only my disdain for the question is clear; I provide no clue at all of the answer to it.)
Robin: "Have you or not?"
Me: "Well, what does it look like?"
Robin: "Just tell me whether you've vacuumed."
Me: "That's not the point."
Robin: "What? It's completely the point."
Me: "No, it isn't. You thought the rug needed vacuuming. If you think it looks fine now, then you're happy, right? Whether I've vacuumed or not."
Robin: "And what if I don't think it looks OK?" She pauses for a moment, I know at this moment that I have her.
Me: "If I've vacuumed, and you still think it doesn't look vacuumed... then there's no point my vacuuming ever again, is there?"
There's a degree of glaring that goes on here, but I hold my nerve and continue.
Me: "The only other possibility, as far as I can see, is that you simply can't tell whether I've vacuumed or not. And, if you can't tell, then it doesn't matter - in any real sense - whether I've done it or not, does it?"
I've one more card to play, but it's a great one.
Me: "That is, not unless the thing that concerns you isn't whether the rug has been vacuumed, but only whether I've been sitting here enjoying myself all this time rather than running around with the vacuum. But I'm sure that's not it. I mean, you'd be happy for me to sit here for as long as I want, wouldn't you, if there's no need for me not to? It's about the cleaning, not about my sitting here, right?"
Robin just stares at me.
I am triumphant. A heavenly choir sings. Cherubs encircle my head, scattering petals of the most beautiful flowers man has ever seen. Shafts of light fan out from behind me framing my god-like body in a glow that defies the color spectrum. It's an intoxicating three seconds.
Robin: "Change Logan's diaper"