It's On the Tip of My Tongue

Can't remember what your man does for a living? (Or maybe you remember, you just can't expand on it.)

Believe me, I know.  There’s no excuse, really (unless he works for the CIA or Al Qaeda or something – in which case you probably know what his alias job is: A Vacuum Salesman.)  You can’t help but feel stupid when you face The Recurring Scenario.  You know.  You’re running errands and bump into an old acquaintance and they just have to know all about your life (why is that?).  You answer the phone even though you didn’t recognize the number and guess what?  It’s Uncle Bob and everybody knows he has Alzheimer’s.   (Actually, in this case it wouldn’t matter what you told him.)  You meet some new people in the coffeehouse and it comes up.  Naturally.  You’ve only been married ten years.

“What is your husband doing, exactly?”  [Insert Long, Awkward Pause Here].

Now take a minute and think about it.  There really are only so many ways you can answer this question if you don’t actually know the answer.  I’ve tried most of them:

1) Scatterbrained: He, uhh, you know.  That thing, at the place, in the lab, with all the beakers?

2) Honesty: Well, I’m not sure.  Why don’t I call him and find out?

3) Sarcasm: The eternal question yet again!  Do any of us really know what we’re doing?  Do you?

4) Evasive Maneuver: Oh my god your hair is on FIRE!

5) Lies, Lies (all lies):  He’s a Confused Cube Dweller.  He designs toilet-paper patterns (somebody has to do it).  He writes fortunes for the cookies (Don’t Eat the Hand that Feeds You, Lucky Numbers 13, 45, and 61.  No really, he came up with that one).   He’s a Fountain Pen Repairer (it’s a nonprofit organization).  He’s a temp – sometimes he’s a Rodeo Clown, sometimes a Dice Inspector - but only on alternating Tuesdays.  He’s independently wealthy (and does nothing).   He plays video games for a living?

So last week I finally got Tim to write down exactly what he does (I’m sure this has happened before and I just lost the sticky note, but this is now and that was then).  Drum roll, please.

He is a graduate student at Clemson University, working on obtaining his PhD in Material Science and Engineering (Solid-State Physics).  And for those of you who've asked, he is researching Thermoelectrics.  Basically, he’s working with materials that directly convert heat to electricity and vice versa.  And that’s about as specific as I can get (I took Chemistry and Physics in high school, when I was 16.  Eight years is a long time).  

So there you go.  Don’t ask me again until after he has officially graduated and has a short job title that sounds impressive but is also surprisingly easy to say (here’s to hoping).


  1. I have that issue with my dad...it doesn't help that the college has been steadily suffling people and titles for like three years...now I just say "He's a VP of something with the college and the community"

    When I was applying to college he was Chief College and Community Initiatives Officer - cause I had to put it on the applications...not sure now : )

  2. That's a confusing title. Why do colleges do that? Seems like it'd be more straight-forward.

    I felt kind of stupid writing this post but it's true - I'd say, oh he's a graduate student at Clemson working on his PhD in Material Science - that was easy enough to remember. But then they'd ask what his research was in or what his thesis would be on and I'd be like, uhhhhhhhh . . .

    But I've found you can make just about any kind of blog post funny, so. .. might as well.

  3. I understand. My boyfriend used to do tour guiding and marketing for a tour company that does 4 wheel drive tours for Lord of the Rings film sites. There are actually 2 roles in there, and just explaining the company is hard enough. I still don't know what his job title was...

  4. Hooray I am not alone!

    I don't even really understand what you just explained about his job, but it sounds really cool.

  5. yeah i run into this with talking about what matt does.

    he's a naval flight officer. yes, he flies, but only passively.

    he's not a pilot.

    he flies IN the plane, he doesn't actually fly the plane.

    something about electronics, navigating, emergency systems, radar jamming, saving the world?

    yes he went through flight school. no he isn't a pilot. didn't i just say that? what good was flight school, you ask? hell if i know.

  6. Wow I'm sorry - that's worse off than me. ;) You seem to be fairly at ease saying hell if I know, though - so kudos to you!


( hippies always welcome )