I feel for you. The pressures of your Mr. Mom duty are boling over. Good to vent here. I admire you and your wife, the sophistication and solidity of your relationship that the pressure you feel gets focused on “trivial” domestic things, rather than deep male-female/relationship power existential ones. Good luck with that.
It is kind of true, isn’t it, what you say, for those of us who have spent a lot of time in Taiwanese kitchens and homes. At least for those that run well (and I’ve seen some disfunctional ones), they can seem a bit, shall we say, anal retentive? Or do I mean, anal compulsive. Well, I think you know what I mean, afterall you live it.
You seem to be sturggling a bit with the reality of a very old adage - For everything its proper place. To be honest, beyond the slippers, which are by default unique unto No Shoes in the Home cultures, there isn’t anything freaky about what you describe - (aploogizes to the gender in advance, but…) women can be deeply compulsive about things like… towels; bath, hand, guest, kitchen, etc. Often, the presentation of these becomes so tidy and decorrative, that it almost feels a sin to soil them - which drives guys like us, nuts. I no longer live the life of a bachelor in Taiwan, I live back within the family fold in the Old Country, and I can tell you, the women in my family keep the tradition of order alive and well. The other day we made a filed trip, my San-jie, Ma, and I to a place called The Container Store (I’m sure some of you know this chain) - it’s a retail success story which owes its success to the compulsive nature of homemakers to have… Everthing in its right place. Go home for a while, you’ll see. And, when you ask yourself: how could I have ever married such a compulsive lunatiic - remind yourslef that if you had (somehow) married Martha Stewart instead, you’d be a 100 times more crazy, and… near on… 3/4 of a billion richer.
Specifically, regarding the whole slippers thing… as I write this I am wearing a pair that I bought while I was still in Taiwan and have worn, virtually every day since, including since I left the ROC in Nov., 2001. They are still going very strong, you’ll be happy to know. The are my house slippers, you see. Because, after 12 years living in Taiwan, I have become completly sold on the notion that shoes are for outside, and slippers for inside.
Here were me and my slippers are now, I shower in an enclosed tub, and live in a house, not an apartment building, so there is no call for multiple slippers for multiple locales, but, I can tell you this - in the homes I lived in, in Taiwan, we always had a hyper abundance of slippers; for guests, for ourselves (and, yes, I have to admit), for the big yang-tai, and for the back balcony. and… bathroom. Perhaps because I grew up in an ordered house, all these functions made sense to me, and I still more or less support them.
My sister is a Chef, I think she would agree with Mrs. Ironman, that each of your kitchen tools has its very specific function.
Again, I do feel your pain, but I think you’ll find that what you are going through is much more than dealing with domestic cusoms of your wife, that seem foolish to you.
llary, do you think your Japanese friend might have just a wee bit of an OCD problem, or what?