Sunday, August 9, 2009

Days of the Leprechauns

“You don’t know about brownie points? All my buddies keep score.
In fact every married male should know about ‘em.
It’s a way of figuring where you stand with the little woman —
favor or disfavor. Started way back in the days of the leprechauns,
I suppose, long before there were any doghouses.”
Los Angeles Times, March 1951,
and the first known use of the term "brownie points" in print.

My mother-in-law chose this morning for her bi-annual health nag. About twice a year, she starts grilling Andrew on everything from what he's eating to the last time he saw the dentist. I spend the time seething at her speaking to my husband as if he were five years old while he goes on about his day seemingly unphased.

I usually let myself suggest a few statements he can tell her, choosing to vocalize only those that are actually appropriate despite my annoyance. If Andrew even realizes that I said something, he doesn't focus on what, and even if he hears me, he doesn't ever repeat my brilliant statements. It's way too much thinking on his feet trying to figure out what both of us are saying, navigate both conversations, and contemplate the news article or the carpet patterns or whatever else he does to escape the whole situation. I don't blame him.

Things were going along as usual and she was laying into him about his cholesterol score, which is ideal. I suggested a lighthearted, "Eliza's taking good care of me, Mom." Then my husband looked me right in the eyes, flashed me a smile, and in the next break she took for a breath, he said just that.

I need to pause now just to relive the whole thing.

I am still floored.

My mother-in-law sputtered, offered her thanks to me and said she was sure I was, and the health nag trailed off into some other topic.

That's brownie point worthy there, my friend. I was very impressed.


  1. I'm impressed too. It bespeaks a significant level of mutual understanding and good will to share your insights so effectively. I think there were brownie points all round.

    Are you old enough to recall the junior wing of the female branch of the Boy Scout movement - the Brownies? Sorry - I digress.

  2. Indeed! I was a Brownie at one time, many moons ago.

    I don't think I got any brownie points from my husband, who gets stressed setting boundaries with his mom, but I did get some bonding points, which I'll happily take any day!

  3. Good for you! And Him!

    My husband's parents are very condescending towards him, but he's just started to stand up for himself in recent years. It's nice to see.

  4. Abby, I'm curious what it was that caused the transition for Magnum. Was it your presence, something that happened that made him decide to do it, a natural outgrowth of other things, some combination? Yay that he's doing it!