The Odd Couple: When a Neatnik Loves a Slob
Every morning, just before he heads out for work, Richard Weiss hides the newspaper—and he is not going to reveal his stashing place. He'll tell you that he has no choice, that his stealth is rooted in self-defense. If he leaves the Detroit Free Press out in plain view—say, on the kitchen counter, the TV stand in the living room, or the dresser in the master bedroom of his Birmingham, Michigan, home—his neatnik wife, Donna, will act quickly to make sure the newspaper is history. "In her mind, if something is lying around or is sort of out of order, it's fair game," says Richard, a psychiatric social worker. Donna is all for keeping current with current events. It's just that when her husband makes his way through the paper, "he clips coupons or stories he thinks are interesting, reviews of restaurants, or recipes he insists he's going to try, and then leaves the clippings all over the house," says Donna, 48, a property manager. And don't get her started on the cartoons from the funny pages that Richard, 50, hangs on the refrigerator door. "Clutter!" she says, exactly the way Scarlett O'Hara said, "Yankee!"
But that's all small potatoes for Richard. He has bank statements from 15 years ago ("You never know"), T-shirts from baseball teams he played on more than 30 years ago ("I might thin down and be able to wear them again"), the tie he wore to his Bar Mitzvah ("It may come back into style").
If you're a diehard Democrat and your mate is a Republican, it's possible to avoid political conversations. If you're pulling for the Yankees and your mate roots for the Red Sox, well, baseball season doesn't last forever. But the neat/sloppy issue is pervasive, says Arlene Kagle, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in New York. "It's much more difficult to ignore."