We just got back from a vacation trip. The trip took 10 days. Packing for the trip took three months.  

Let me be more precise about that: that’s how long it took my wife to pack for the trip.

My wife is a splendid person, excellent at myriad tasks, including thermostat-setting and pointing out when I am driving too fast. But she is genetically incapable of efficient packing.

I, on the other hand, have a packing system. It’s simple but effective:

I take all my clothes and jam them into the suitcase until I can just about close it.

Then I sit on it, and close it.

Sometimes I don’t close it completely.

Still, works every time.

My wife, on the other hand, folds everything carefully, puts tissue paper between layers of clothes, puts clothes between layers of tissue paper, puts bags between layers of other bags, puts file folders to help identify items between bags, puts tags on the files to distinguish the whole wheat from the gluten-free, and then decides to try another suitcase.

This happens, of course, only after she had decided on what she is going to take on the trip. Because if she takes the blue pants, she will have to take the white shoes, and if she takes the white shoes, that means she’ll need the turquoise top and if she packs the turquoise top that means she shouldn’t bring the blue pants.

So here we are, the night before the trip. I am comfortably sitting on my suitcase, perfecting my self-satisfied smirk, while my wife is running around the bedroom looking for what will go with the red sweater and wondering if it’ll be too cold or too warm for the red sweater, maybe even too green, and maybe she should not take the red sweater after all.

She has begun talking to herself, engaging in a lively Socratic dialogue about either global climate change or the respective merits of an extra pair of jeans versus the utility of the gray skirt, which also can be used, you know, as a blanket in case we decide to picnic on the side of the road, but then wouldn’t she need to pack knives and forks, too?

Inevitably, sometime around midnight, she asks me for my advice — should she bring the green jacket or the first-aid kit, the beige bag or the extra tub of hummus?

I respond it doesn’t matter much either way, which is, naturally, the completely ignorant and wrong response.

My wife opens her bag and looks at the carefully folded tissue paper layers and the exquisitely bagged shoes.

And then she asks if I wouldn’t mind sitting on her suitcase.