The Oracle Known as Steve, and How I Got Rid of Him

November 2nd, 2007

Remember that line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding? “The husband is the head, but the wife is the neck…and the neck turns the head.” I am not Greek, and I would like to think that I live outside the constraints of a marriage where one person is the ultimate decision maker. Unfortunately, that would be a lie and I would hate to start telling lies or making gross exaggerations or gesticulating too wildly, just for the sake of a good blog.

The Country Doctor is not a fist pounding, my way or the highway type of guy. He does not order us around and make outrageous demands, but he is very good at digging his heels in. He digs his heels in so hard that there are holes in the floors all over our house. He is very difficult to sway, persuade or convince, ultimately preferring to wait and see for about seventy twillion years.

I of course, am the exact opposite. In fact, I have made all of the most vital and important decisions in my life in a matter of nanoseconds. I have a unique, steadfast and uncompromising ability to believe that things will work themselves out. I do not spend time worrying about what could go wrong.

In stark contrast, the Country Doctor spends pretty much all of his time worrying about what could go wrong. He can take years to decide whether or not to go to the bathroom. He can’t just grab a magazine and head to the little room down the hall. First he must consider ALL THE OPTIONS. Second, he must pelt whomever is within pelting distance, with one thousand questions regarding ALL THE OPTIONS. Third, he must rapidly wear out his wife with questions about ALL THE OPTIONS (that takes about twenty three seconds) and seek someone else to pelt. Thus, he must call his brother, “The Oracle” known as Steve.

Here is a picture of “The Oracle” known as Steve

Steve, Steve, Steve, where would we be without “The Oracle” known as Steve? Steve has counseled the Country Doctor on everything from marriage, kids, car buying, house buying, job searches, furniture arranging, paint colors, and if we should go ahead and spring for that new can opener or just live with the old one a while longer. There were a few years that I wasn’t sure if I was married to the Country Doctor or if I was married to Steve. It seemed like we were unable to change our children’s diapers without first consulting him.

Over the course of my marriage to the Country Doctor and strangely to his brother “The Oracle” known as Steve as well, I have learned a few techniques to manage this situation and get my way more quickly, but it took a while to figure it out. I wasted a lot of energy trying tantrums, tears, angrily flinging clothes into a suitcase, long stony silences, tirades, ranting, raving, looks of pure hatred, more stony silences, more tears, more flinging clothes into a suitcase. After a while I got tired…very, very tired. Exhausted, limp, with blotchy skin and a dry scratchy throat, I had to find a better way. A way to stop the Country Doctor from constantly consulting his brother, Steve and as a result throwing gigantic wrenches into all my plans.

Then one day a miracle happened. The Country Doctor and I were walking around a car lot having a tremulous conversation about buying a car. He pointed out a vehicle that I did not like.

“I think that car is pretentious.” I said.

The Country Doctor backed away from it as if it were on fire. I took a sharp gulp of air and wondered if I had just discovered the Holy Grail of husband management. I again tested my fledgling theory while we drove home past some big Kansas City mansions.

Pointing out a beautiful stone villa I said, “Nice – but kind of pretentious don’t ya think?”

The Country Doctor veered into the other lane on two wheels, drove over several beautifully manicured lawns to a back alley and finally found a much less “pretentious” route for our drive home.

In order to completely satisfy my curiosity that this was not just a strange two-time anomaly, but in fact a sturdy, set in stone behavioral pattern that I could abuse for the rest of my married life, I went home and made some dinner. A very special dinner, beef stroganoff, the Country Doctor’s favorite meal. I carefully waited until he placed the first bite in his mouth. Then I said, “You know honey, I always kind of thought that people who liked beef stroganoff were just a tad pretentious.”

He turned green, spit out his food, got up from the table, gargled salt water, and bathed his tongue in boiling water. He hasn’t touched beef stroganoff since.

From then on, whenever I sensed that I was not going to get my way, I started peppering the discussion with words like fake, false, hoity toity, ostentatious, pompous, arrogant, showy and the big gun – pretentious. Any haughty word was a naughty word that caused the Country Doctor to run panicking, his hands covering his ears in a different direction… my direction… towards me… and exactly what I wanted.

A few years ago we had a conversation something like this…

Me – I would like to build a house.

CD – Never in a million trillion years. You are insane. You are a crazy woman. This will never happen.

Me – Well, I think the house we live in right now is kind of …pretentious…

CD – What?

Me – Yes, and I would like to live in something a little …less pretentious…

CD – Like what

Me – Oh…I don’t know… maybe a simple little farmhouse something like that.

CD – A Farmhouse??

Me – Well…yes… farmhouses are never, ever, ever, ever, not even the teeniest bit, pretentious – or showy or fake or ostentatious. They are just simple and natural and honest and scrub faced and very, very, very, very real. Just like the people that live inside of them.

CD – Maybe you’re right…But let me call Steve.

Me – You mean “The Oracle” known as Steve?

CD – Yes

Me – Well…okay…but if you ask me… “The Oracle” known as Steve has a few opinions that are just a wee bit…hoity toity..

CD – They are?

Me – And he doesn’t live in a simple little farmhouse…does he…?

CD – uh…no

Me – In fact, you might even say that his house is well…kind of…ostentatious.

CD – Gosh – you’re right. Maybe we should think about building…but only a very simple farmhouse. One that is not even a tiny bit pretentious.

Me – I absolutely agree, but didn’t you want to talk to your brother Steve?

CD – Uh no…I don’t think that is a good idea.

Me – Okay…if you’re sure

CD – I am.

And that is how I took control of my life and started to get what I wanted out of it. It worked for me and now my only hope is to help others. If on the off chance you need even more help, I can get you in touch with my brother-in-law and former quasi-husband, “The Oracle” known as Steve.


  • barefoot gardener:

    ROFLMAO!!!Oooohhh, I gotta find something like that for my hubby. Unfortunately, “pretentious” won’t work for him…it’s his lifelong ambition for people to think of him as pretentious. Then I thought maybe I could just insert “trashy” or something similar, but he gets all up in arms about not judging people. This may take some thought….

  • Jenni:

    Ostentatious is my choice word:o) And “fancy” said just the right way. I just wrote huge comment about it and erased it all because I realized I need *something* to blog about tomorrow.

  • Robbyn:


  • Staci at Writing and Living:

    Hilarious post. It should, um, make for an interesting Thanksgiving this year.

  • Ann:

    I’m married to one of those reverse snobs too. He almost lost it when I wanted to buy our big pile of bricks. Tenacity has served me well–oh yeah, doing ALL the leg work too.Love, love, love your writing!AnnGeorgian Dream(Baby Beginner Blogger)

  • Vonda:

    Are you sure your husband’s name isn’t Dave and his brothers name isn’t Mike? This could be written about my husband and his brother. For years he couldn’t wipe without calling his brother for permssion. I finally was able to figure out how to use this to my advantage. I now call Mike first and talk to him about what I want and then I talk to Dave and he then talks to Mike and “Voila”! I have pretty much what I wanted without Dave digging his heels in. Of course Mike is a very nice guy and I do respect his opinion but it made me crazy that my husband had to go there to make a decision.

  • Rechelle:

    Yep – you just gotta figure out how to finesse the situation. Then they are like putty in our hands – well brittle putty…like…substance.

  • Sarah H.:

    That is very Western Kansas of him, to hate pretension. And to be unable to make a decision. I hate to say this, but I think you married my mother.

  • Janice:

    I just found your blog from a link on the pioneerwoman blog. I love it! I will have to get out my dictionary tonight and try out a few words on my dh. You could really be onto something here!!! I saw Jeanne Laskas’ books on your list – loved them. We traveled with Jeanne & Alex on an adoption trip to China 5 1/2 years ago. Their daughter Sasha and our daughter Bailey are from the same orphanage. They were great fun.

  • Anna Banana:

    New visitor here, also got here via pioneerwoman. What are you making for dinner tonight? You’re welcome to search my blog for ideas and recipes

  • Junebug:

    Is this true? Sounds to good to be true. That book Mr. Blanding Builds his Dream House was a movie with Cary Grant. I watched the movie years ago, I have never read the book but I just ordered it from Amazon. Thank you very much.

  • Rechelle:

    It’s way too good to be true, but it does truly help.

  • lsaspacey:

    But what if the CD reads this post?

  • The SullaVinos::

    This is quite possibly the best blog post I have ever read. I think my husband and the Country Doctor must be twins. I cannot WAIT to try this trick on my husband and see if it doesn’t help!