“I’ve lost you again,” said Lady Barton St Mary.
She was right. For some reason, I had turned my attention to the trailer for the new Batman film on the telly and tuned out of Lady Barton St Mary’s explanation of why she was having trouble deciding what sort of taps we should have in our new kitchen and asking my opinion.
Fortunately, she’s used to this sort of behaviour from me. The simple fact is, when it comes to selecting items, I’m probably not the best person at doing a lot of research before purchasing. Once I’ve seen something I think is suitable and fit for purpose, that’s it; what’s more, I have become more aware of this type of behaviour as I’ve got older.
For example, my clothes.
I know what I like. My clothes have to be comfortable, so once I’ve found something I like, I tend to buy multiples of the same item. Hence, I spent most of the 1990s wearing polo shirts. For some reason, this changed to grey t-shirts. Work clothes consist of shirts that I purchased at American Eagle in the US and trousers from Austin Reed. These used to be bought 2 or 3 pairs at a time from Debenhams until they changed manufacturer and sizes.
There is a great scene in one episode of The Simpsons when Homer opens his wardrobe to reveal row upon row of white shirts and blue trousers. Lady BSM commented at the time it looked a little like my own wardrobe, but I can’t see anything wrong with that.
Lady BSM, on the other hand, is very, very thorough. Very.
In 2008, we decided to plan the trip of a lifetime – fly to San Francisco, drive down the Pacific Highway to Los Angeles, fly to Vegas, back to LA and down to San Diego. With Miss Katherine and Master Johnny. Exciting!
All giggles and smiles, we sat down to start planning. After 20 minutes of looking at flights, my attention was starting to wander. 30 minutes, my mind was wandering. Lady BSM had everything in hand, scrolling up and down the lists of flights, times, prices and destinations with a rapidity that made me feel a little nauseous. I made my excuses and sidled off to do something else.
Three weeks later, she was still researching, after finally giving up on the idea that I would participate fully.
“I’ll narrow it down to a couple of options and then you can help me to decide,” she said.
Another week passed.
“I need your help to decide on a suitable flight,” she said. We snuggled up together. After carefully considering the options, I chose a flight that left mid afternoon, arriving early evening. Perfect.
“Great,” she said, “but I’ll just have another look at what American Airlines are offering.”
“Why? We’ve chosen a flight now,” I replied.
“Well, there may be another one that’s better,” she responded.
“There can’t be one that’s better! That’s the best one! You’ve been looking at these for four bloody weeks, just book it…”
“Don’t shout at me, I’m trying to organise our holiday…”
You can imagine the scene. Methodical, organised super shopper working with butterfly brain.
Because she is so financially adept (an accountant) and a great shopper, I have nothing to do with our finances, other than contributing a little money to the family income. We have a dazzling array of share accounts, ISAs, fixed rate mortgages, interest accounts, shares, savings accounts as well as house insurance, contents insurance, car insurance, private health insurance, plus an electricity supplier and an oil tank that needs filling up twice a year.
The alarming fact is, I have no idea how it all works. The salespeople who accost you in supermarkets approach me and ask: which electricity provider do we use and how much do you pay? When I tell them I don’t know, they always look at me oddly. Ditto when I’m asked about our mortgage. I could have a stab at who we borrow money from, but interest rates and suchlike are beyond me.
Lady BSM knows exactly what’s going on. When the great deal we’ve had with our electricity supplier is due for renewal, she starts to search for another.
Which is worrying. If anything happened to her, not only would I be heartbroken, I would be left financially inept. Ravenous financiers and aggressive utility sales executives would feast upon my incompetent carcass.
Even with things I love, especially technological gadgets, I struggle to concentrate on. I have a Garmin GPS watch for running. I am sort of aware that it could be programmed to set up a training schedule or map my routes, but a few minutes after reading the manual, I begin to worry I’ll mess up what I can already do with the watch and my mind starts to wander. It’s the same with my ipod, digital radio and even my WordPress page. I look at other people’s blog sites and marvel at the wonders of their designs. One day I’m going to do the same with my own. One day.
So, why is Lady BSM able to do things so well that I can’t? It’s all to do with neuroscience. Certain people with a certain mind set have to have order, plans, facts, figures. Let’s call them blue and red thinkers. Others thrive on coming up with ideas that just have to be fulfilled, without worrying about the detail. They would be yellow and green thinkers.
So, a yellow/green brained person would know what they wanted but have no idea how to get it. Blue/red brains would study this idea and ask pertinent questions, such as how will you achieve this? Where’s it going? How far? How much?
In essence, yellow/greens have a destination. Blue/reds have the roadmap.
I’ve realised that Lady BSM is good at blue/red thinking, whereas I’m probably more yellow/green. So, I do my best to see things from her point of view, however hard that may be. I also realise that living with a butterfly brain can also have its downsides.
That’s why she can spend 3 hours with a kitchen designer whilst I’ve nearly torn out my eyeballs with boredom after 45 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong. Living with a perfectionist has great advantages. Any interior projects, although lengthy, always look outstanding. People compliment the colour schemes, the furniture, the lighting. By the way, the holiday in the USA was amazing; the hotels, the flights, the cars we hired. All down to Lady BSM.
In return she gets butterfly brain.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been given a list of items she would appreciate for her birthday or Christmas present. That was after the year I bought her a mustard coloured jumpsuit. Or was it the leopard skinned kimono?
But there are advantages to living with a butterfly brain. You get to choose what you want and make some fairly major decisions without any real objections or interference from them. I’m convinced that if I was a methodical shopper she would not be a happy bunny.
So, between the two of us, we seem to get along well. Just don’t ask me to have a discussion about whether our kitchen doorknobs should be shiny or antiqued. My brain is probably thinking about the nice time I’ll have sitting in our new kitchen. Or whether we should just book tickets for the premier of Batman.