No Common Sense

How could two people with no common sense be married for 48 years without killing themselves, each other, or any of their six daughters? It must have been divine intervention.

As I was growing up, I didn’t realize my parents had no common sense. They were both intelligent people, so it goes to follow that they would have common sense. Or so I thought. I found out differently one day.

My father owned a car with a leaky trunk, and during a heavy rain the trunk would fill up with water. Annoyed with the situation, he called my brother-in-law, Darryl, to discuss it with him.

“Darryl, do you think I could drill some holes through my trunk with an electric drill so the water could run out?” he asked.

“Not if you want to live,” was Darryl’s reply.

I couldn’t believe my father was going to put an electric drill in water and I told him so. He glumly replied that he knew it was too simple a solution to work. When I related the incredible story to my mother, I expected her to shake her head in disbelief that my father could think such a thing. And she did.

“How was he planning to get rid of all those holes later?” she asked. “You know, roaches will crawl right up in those holes if he doesn’t fill them back in.”

It was my first inkling that my father wasn’t the only one in the family without common sense.

One thing I can say about my father is that he always meant well. When Pam and Darryl went away on vacation, my father took care of their house. Before they left, Pam ordered a new pressure cooker seal. I don’t know anything about pressure cookers, so I wasn’t aware that each pressure cooker has its own specific seal and that the seal is a couple of inches larger in diameter than the lid so that you can work in the excess rubber to ensure an airtight seal.

The seal arrived one day while my father was there and he decided to help Pam out by installing it for her. He hadn’t done it before, but how difficult could it be?

The first thing he noticed was that they had sent the wrong seal. It was obvious because the seal was too big. At this point, if it had been me, I would have put the seal away and let Pam deal with it. Not so for Dad; he liked to be very helpful.

He cut out the two extra inches. When the seal wouldn’t stay in place on the lid, he taped the two ends together with Scotch tape. Worried that steam might loosen the tape (now he was trying to use common sense?), he decided to add a few staples to keep everything in place.

When Pam returned from her vacation, there on the kitchen table lay the pressure cooker lid with her new seal stapled together and taped to it. A post-it note read, “I fixed your lid for you. They sent the wrong size seal but I managed to make it work. Love, Dad.”

When Pam called to tell me about it, she was still laughing.

I called my mother. Surely this time she would be aghast at his lack of common sense. After all, she owns a pressure cooker and knows how important the seal is.

She was aghast. “What on earth was he thinking of?” she said. “All those staples will fall into the soup!”

It’s a wonder we six girls ever made it out alive.


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