Best friends first, spouses second.
But we do argue.
I’m wary of couples that do not argue. I find them creepy. I find their existence unnatural. I would not be surprised, in fact, if one member of said partnership has the bones of dead people in a shoebox in the back of the garage.
No offense, I’m just saying… an argument now and then is a sign of a normal and functional relationship.
No arguing is a sign that somebody is burying people somewhere around the house.
Our arguments start off benign enough, really.
4:20p.m. HIM (VIA TEXT):: Leaving at 5p.m. sharp
4:41p.m. ME (VIA TEXT):: Can you make dinner tonight? Cleaned out the garage and am SO tired.
4:53p.m. HIM (VIA TEXT):: Sure
4:55p.m. ME (VIA TEXT) :: U really leaving at 5 sharp? ;-)
5:02p.m. HIM (VIA TEXT):: wrapping up on my way
5:02p.m. ME (VIA ONLY IN MY HEAD) :: You are so not wrapping up. You are at YOUR DESK. You are NOT leaving at five sharp. In fact, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BE HERE UNTIL AFTER SIX. I CLEANED THE ENTIRE GARAGE TODAY AND WASHED MY CAR WITH THE KIDS AND NOW I HAVE TO TOLERATE YOUR LIES?!!!!!!!!
5:03p.m. ME (VIA TEXT):: K
And so he unsuspectingly strolls in at 6:07 p.m.
The first four letters of that last word are a hint at how the next ten minutes are going to go.
“So. What did you do today?”
“What did I do today?! What.did.I.do.TODAY? Let’s seeee, well. First, I cleaned the house. And, then, I washed my car. And then… I cleaned the entire GARAGE out. And the whole time I made sure our children were fed, clothed, entertained and nurtured. What did YOU do today?”
“Okay. What did I miss… maybe I should just go back out and come in again… should we start over here?”
He actually turns to go for the door.
I have to interject in the narrative here and tell you that this has actually happened.
More than once.
“You know what? YOU.KNOW.WHAT?! That is not funny. You are not funny.”
“I’m kind of funny. People do laugh at stuff I do.”
“Fine, fine. You know what? Why don’t you tell the so called people who think you’re sooo funny that you’re leaving at five sharp and then text them from your desk at 5:07p.m. and say, you’re ‘wrapping up’ and see how hard they laugh at THAT?”
“Ohh… seven minutes? This is about seven minutes?”
“No,Tariq, it’s about you being here when you say you’re going to be here.”
“I feel like maybe you’re overreacting here.”
“Do you KNOW how long seven minutes is?”
I walk over to the microwave, I set the timer for seven minutes. “Okay, now, let’s watch this clock go down. Let’s wait seven minutes…” I dramatically place my elbows on the kitchen counter and stare at the timer.
“Are you serious?”
“As a heart attack. Which can kill someone in seven minutes.”
“Okay, I have to go to the bathroom,” his tone changes slightly, “and I am going.NOW.”
“Oh, no, you’re not… you’re not going anywhere until seven minutes is up.”
“Uh, yeah. Yeah, I am. I’m going to the bathroom.”
“SEVEN MINUTES IS NOT UP… YOU ARE NOT…” My yelling at his back is interrupted dramatically by my own silence. My sweet and still very small children are staring at me.
I flip an emotional switch and smile brightly at my kids, “Mama is fine… we’re fiiiine… now, what are you two darlings doing?”
Oh, yeah, I use the word “darlings.”
In retrospect, I realize how incredibly creepy that must have been for my kids. First, the looney smile and then being called “darlings”? Hopefully, they get scholarships and they can use the college funds for the therapy they’ll be needing to make sense of that one.
I’m acting like a total lunatic.
I ask you, how is it that *I* am the one who is totally crazy all of a sudden when he was TOTALLY LATE?
When Tariq comes back, I gear up to launch an offense that would have made the Trojans red with shame, but he looks at me very… softly. Then, he says, “Hey, I know you worked hard today. I got home as soon as I could. I did want to leave at 5 sharp… I did my best.”
Eleven years ago, this would have been met by “What.EVER.”
Today, after hundreds of arguments like this, some of which might reveal that I too am married to a sometimes lunatic, I fully understand that this is a big deal.
You really have to love someone if you’re willing to come to an understanding after they’ve tried to force you to watch a microwave timer for seven minutes even though you have to use the bathroom.
“It’s okay,” I say quietly.
“And thank you. For cleaning the house, the garage… taking care of the kids. I appreciate you.”
“It’s okay. Thank you. Sorry about the timer thing.”
And it is okay.
More than okay, actually. It is wonderful.
Until he says, “Dude. A timer? Really?!”
Oh, oh, and P.S. Walking down to your car takes more than seven minutes. You texted seven minutes later AND THEN you walked to your car AND THEN you drove out of the parking garage…. which is, like, TWENTY minutes. NOT.SEVEN.
P.P.S. Sorry about that.