Martin, like so many of our male friends, freezes and immediately turns over the phone to me if someone asks, “When can we get together?” He doesn’t make plans. None of the husbands does. This is not an incompetent group. It includes brilliant men who’ve advised presidents (not the current one), are presidents (of law firms, corporations), write, paint, counsel clients, assemble furniture, are experts in their fields, raise or invest money, litigate, make speeches and diagnoses, create music, produce and direct shows, cook, teach and create companies. What they can’t do is get four people together for a dinner.
Yesterday I got a call from a friend, who was baffled and looking to me for clarity after she and my husband had exchanged a series of e-mails about our coming to their home for a barbecue. I made it clear that while I’ve delegated my power of attorney to Martin and given him the authority to pull the plug if I’m on life support, he's not supposed to handle any social plans. He has, on occasion, tried. The last family he invited to brunch never showed up or called, leaving us to deal with two pounds of smoked salmon. “We can freeze the bagels,” Martin said, trying to minimize the mishap, which required removing a huge container of frozen chili, two chickens and a gallon of ice cream to create room in the freezer.
Martin is alert, knowledgeable and detail-oriented. He can look at columns on a tax sheet or numbers from a blood test, understand the implications and ask astute questions. But he won’t remember to get a phone number for friends visiting New York. I wondered if the chromosome missing in men may be the key to the complexities of their making dates except that married men looking to have an affair are able to do it without any help from their wives.