The recent presidential debates offer collateral benefits. You're skeptical, I know, but bear with me.
In my kitchen, I store glassware and cups upside down in cabinets. The rims sit on perforated foam shelf liner because, well, I've always done it that way.
Recently, a guest turned over my cups to suit her rims-up sensibility. I stopped her before she moved on to the second shelf. "What are you doing?"
"Your cups were upside down."
"I like them that way."
"They're less likely to tip over."
That argument may be weak, but my guest backed off, perhaps because I held a colander like a shield. (It'll be more than four years before anyone offers to help me in the kitchen again.)
I told my neighbor about my interfering guest and got no sympathy. Au contraire, she backed the guest and argued there was no reason to store glassware upside down in a closed cabinet since there hadn't been dust storms in the region for decades.
Dust storms? Who knew the issue of glassware storage inspired snark? Before I managed a word edgewise, my neighbor went on to say she'd experienced far worse: a visitor who'd interfered in the bathroom.
"He switched the toilet-paper roll so it unwound with the paper dropping straight down, against the wall. Can you believe it?"
Thanks to my cup-turning guest, I could. "That's the way I put rolls on in my house, but I wouldn't mess with the rolls in yours."
My neighbor stared. "The paper's supposed to unwind over the top of the roll. Everybody knows that."
"Everybody? You're full of malarkey," I said.
"Takes one to know one, and why are we talking about glasses and toilet paper when the country's at war and people have lost their homes?"
"You want to talk about war and foreclosures?"
"There's no logical reason why I store glasses rim down," I admitted. "I just like the way it looks."
"I know. Me, I like the rims-up look and toilet paper that unwinds over the top of the roll." My neighbor raised her glass of Dr. Pepper.
I raised my Diet Coke with Lime.
"To each his own," she said.
We regular folk don't have debate coaches prodding us to put the other guy on the defensive or expose his vulnerabilities. No one monitors our body language and gives us a bullet list of must-make points. What's more, we don't have to put up with everyone and his brother critiquing our performance and finding us wanting.
I can tell my neighbor I store glasses rim-side down "just because." She doesn't have to defend her toilet-paper stance to me.
The recent debates made me grateful I don't have to justify everything I say and do. I'm free to change my mind without provoking a firestorm of criticism. My every slip of the tongue doesn't cause an incident.
The single best collateral benefit of the debates? We don't have to watch them again for four years.
Has a trifling household matter caused debate at your house? How glad are you not to be running for president?