Uncategorized

Mishmash Monday

Hello there!

How the hell are you?

Just a friendly message letting you all know I can’t write anymore.

No, wait! Don’t leave me! Come back! This is serious! I got nuthin’! My bloggy well ran dry. My bloggy liquor cabinet has been emptied. My bloggy fridge has nothing but a half-drunk bottle of PBR and my bloggy pantry is full of moldy chocolate-covered raisins. No, wait…those aren’t raisins. I wish to god they were raisins.

Normally I have at least a dozen half-assed posts collecting dust in my draft folder. Today I checked and all I had was a quarter-assed post about Duck Dynasty I wrote nearly two years ago. About asses.

duck-dynasty
Oh how I wish I really couldn’t see them.

This terrible no good winter from hell has killed my writerly soul. Yes, I said writerly. See how bad this is?

But being cooped up with cabin fever for these past six months has made me better at complaining. All winter long my husband and I played the classic married game of “Who’s More Miserable?”

Answer: It’s always me.

(Thank you, past hellish childbirth experiences.)

We’re celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this week so this is what we do for fun now. Every night we cozy up in bed and suddenly turn into our grandmothers.

Him: “Oh god! I think my foot is going numb.”

Me: “My lower back is on fire!”

Him: “Yeah? Well, my ankle hurts!”

Me: “My knees hurt!”

Him: “My right butt cheek hurts!”

Me: “Hey, you know what hurts? That time they ripped all my insides out then put them on the table next to me! Twice!”

What’s even sadder is most times we are so exhausted from our daily lives we simply yell out body parts at each other. Sometimes to spice things up we’ll throw in a few potential diseases or ailments we think we might be developing.

“Thyroid!”

“Ovarian cancer!”

“Sleep apnea!”

“Menopause!”

What a delightful game! Other than my always being more miserable, nothing much else is going on with me.

As for my two kids? They’re flipping fantastic! Love them to pieces!

My eight-year-old daughter was looking at my high school yearbook photo last week and cringed: “Mom? Why is your hair so big? Why did you make it stick all up like that?”

I wish I knew, Miss J. I wish to god I knew.

scan2-e1338080234845 (2)

Laugh all you want now but at the time my Cowardly Lion mane provided a cozy home for a down-on-their-luck family of mice. (inhales) Ahhhhh! and I can still smell the burnt hair and chemicals just looking at this picture. And they warned us back then inhaling too much Aqua Net might fry your brain and lower your IQ! Pfft! Yeah, right! Whatever! hmmm…soooooooo….yeah…ahem….yep…..what was I talking about again?

Oh yes, my kids! My son is almost 13 so my knack for embarrassing the hell out of him comes with zero effort on my part.

The other day I was picking him up after track practice when I noticed a slight change in his appearance — a bit of peach fuzz on his upper lip.

“OH MY GOD! DO YOU HAVE A MUSTACHE?! IS THAT A MUSTACHE? OH! MY LITTLE BABY BOO IS BECOMING A MAN! NOOOO! WHY LORD? WHYYYYYY?”

Sure, I probably shouldn’t have yelled this revelation at the top of my lungs in the parking lot in front of his school. Or collapsed to the ground weeping. Okay, and I shouldn’t have actually picked him up. My back will pay for that one later. And maybe I shouldn’t have done all this when his friends were around. Plus that cute girl he really likes. Live and learn. Or not learn ever, in my case. I live to embarrass that boy. Let’s call it payback for colic.

I’d like to close this random post with a little movie review titled Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of What the F***?)

“Do you know what this movie means?”
“Hell no! I thought you did!”

**SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen the film yet, go away now! Go back to Twitter where you belong! Nothing to see here!**

Last week the little red Netflix envelope appeared in my mailbox and I thought, Ooh! Birdman! Cool! I like birds, I loved the movie Mr. Mom, this is going to be awesome! and settled down with my popcorn and gin to enjoy the feel-good movie of last year. I should have known a movie’s only Academy Award worthy when it makes you cringe the entire 2 hours. Ah, yes, the endless inner conflict of creativity versus fame, self-acceptance versus popularity, prop gun versus blown-off nose. Oh, Michael Keaton! I love you, man! You should have won that Oscar! But please, I’m begging you, rip off that ugly toupee and tell me what the hell the ending meant! Why were Emma Stone’s eyes so big? Why is Ed Norton so good at playing an asshole? Why was this movie the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen? Please tell me you lived happily ever after and flew away into the sunset wearing your undies! Why, Birdman? WHYYYYYY????

That’s it from here. What’s new with you? Do you know what the ending to Birdman meant? Do you also embarrass your kids? Can you give me some tips on how to improve my parenting tactics? Did I tell you my lower back’s on fire? What parts of your body are disintegrating?

____________________________________

Birdman image: Rolling Stone
High School Yearbook Photo: She’s A “Gag me with a spoon” Maineiac

Advertisements
Humor · rant

Stand-Up Saturday: Marriage

stand-up

Welcome to the first installment of weekly no holds barred, profanity-laced, semi-comedic rants straight from the rambling mind of the Supreme Destroyer of Bullshit — The Maineiac.

Today’s topic: Marriage

I remember a few years ago when Al and Tipper Gore dropped the big bomb on us. Apparently, it was top news that after 40 years of wedded bliss — after popping out several kids, rockin’ the robot dance at the inaugural ball to Aerosmith’s Dude Looks Like A Lady and displaying one chillingly awkward public kiss — their marriage was over.

Al and Tipper Gore Dancing at Inaugural Ball

“But it can’t be!” people cried. “How is this possible?” people gasped. “Oh! But it’s so sad! They were married 100 years! And to end it after all that time? It just doesn’t make any sense! Such a shame!”

Shame? I’ll tell you what’s a shame — that we aren’t admitting what really happened to their relationship.

We all know one day Al was lounging in his silk bathrobe in his king-sized bed, smoking a cigar and writing his upcoming book, Hanging Chads, Climate Change & Other Big-Ass Bummers, when he turned to look at Tipper’s green mud-mask-caked face and said:

“Hey, honey? …we’ve been together what…forty-odd years? Well, for forty goddamned years I have had to wake up and see your goddamn fucking face every goddamn fucking morning. And you know what? I am sick of this shit. I am tired of watching your mouth flap on and on and on. I have finally fucking had it. It’s over. This shit is done. Finito. Peace out, dude.”

Then he carefully took off his reading glasses and shuffled into the kitchen to knock back a shot of Metamucil and call his lawyers.

It’s true. This is definitely what went down in their marriage.

Slide1

At the beginning of every relationship, we all manage to hide our own deep personal shit. Stuff we cram down and try to bury with either sex or booze or chocolate. Stuff we bring to the marriage from our own bad childhoods. Most of us are basically more than a little screwed up from the get-go.

Then we bring this shit to the table. We show it to our spouse, but slowly over time so they won’t run away in horror.

But you can’t hide it forever can you?  That’s when your spouse realizes, Hot damn! You have some serious messed-up shit!

The longer your relationship,  the more you reveal. Then your spouse starts to think, Oh no! HELL no. This is WAY too much shit to deal with! I got my OWN shit! I can’t handle YOUR shit too!

This is often why people get divorced. It’s not just because someone cheated. It’s not because of arguments about money or parenting or crack habits. It’s simply “Hey, y’know what, honey? I’ve been thinking things over and….um…I have come to the realization that I am officially bone-ass sick and tired of you and your shit.”

For some couples this takes a few decades. Others, only a few months. It’s that moment of clarity when it hits: I am sick of you. There’s no shame in this. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s only natural. And very likely your significant other feels the same way.

It’s really not a question about love. Do you love your spouse? Of course you love them! This is why marriage can suck the life blood out of you.  It’s all the little daily annoyances that build up over time. It’s more a question of “how much shit can I stand and for how long?”

It’s your sanity versus loving your partner. One chips a little bit away from the other. You have to ask yourself the hard questions:

  • Does your love override the fact that they leave nasty shitty food in the sink?
  • Does your love overcome the fact that they fart in their sleep?
  • Does your love trump the fact that you have to sit there and watch the same M*A*S*H episode for the 1,500th time?
  • Can you just once get out of the fucking shower, Hunnicutt?
  • For the love of God, can you for once stop sucking down that martini, Pierce?
  • Can we finally admit that’s all M*A*S*H is — people wearing various drab shades of green standing in outdoor showers drinking martinis?

But I love my husband, so I suffer on through it.

And he puts up with my severe, unpredictable hormone-fueled mood swings and extreme hatred of Alan Alda.

I think it’s a fair trade.

People that have been married 50-60 years — we celebrate them. We think, “Wow! they must really have their shit together!” We are in awe of these couples, we hold them up as a high standard that we one day hope to achieve. “Damn! They must really love each other! They must be soul mates!”

Oh no. Sure, they love each other. But y’know what it is, really? Why good ol’ Martha and Frank are still together after slogging it out day after day, year after year, decade after soul-sucking decade?

Because those two can really put up with a whooooole lotta shit.

Slide1

Humor

The Fine Art of Marital Conversation

the-awful-truth-cary-grant-irene-dunne

My husband and I are pulling the minivan out of our snowy, icy driveway on a cold winter’s morning.
I’m driving.

Him: All right. Here we go. Gun it!

Me: What? No. You’re crazy.

Him: Do it.

Me: No. I’m not gonna gun it!

Him: GUN IT!

Me: NO IT WON’T WORK! NO!

Him: If you don’t we’ll be stuck here. We’re gonna get stuck at the top of the hill. Oh, god. Nope. You need to punch it. We’ll get stuck on the hill! PUNCH IT! PUNCH IT! WE’LL GET–great. We’re stuck. Don’t spin the tires, nope that’s not how you–you’re digging us in deeper!

Me: AHHH! God! I hate this! I hate this! WINTER SUCKS! WINTER SUCKS! Why do we live here? WHY?

Him: Steer into the snow. INTO the snow. Just steer and hit the gas! The gas! Don’t brake!

Me: What’s happening? OH GOD!

Him: PUNCH IT!

Me: It’s not working! I’m sliding! Holy shit! We’re gonna die! We’re gonna die! Oh, god, we’re going into the ditch, we’re GOING INTO THE DITCH, WE’RE–

Him: [screaming] STEER INTO THE SNOW!

(The car suddenly shoots forward and fishtails out onto the main road, smoke pouring from the engine)

Me: Oh. Good. Thank God in heaven. That was close. Jeezum crow.

Him: You did it.

Me: No thanks to you. Pfft. Steer into the snow. What the hell does that mean?

Him: You like my beard?

Me: What?

Him: You like it? (scratches his chin)

Me: What do you mean, do I like it? You always have a beard.

Him: No, I do not!

Me: Always. You are always in a perpetual state of beardom.

Him: It’s nice. I like it. Keeps me warm. My five o’clock shadow.

Me: More like eight o’clock. [snickers]

Him: I think I’m slipping into midnight with this thing! [grinning gleefully] It’s out of control! God, I love my beard.

Me: Yeah. Good for you. I’m not kissing you anymore. Too prickly.

Him: Aw, c’mon!

Me: It is. Like kissing velcro. [sighs] I should grow a beard.

Him: Y’know, you really should.

Me: Aw, dammit.

Him: What?

Me: I have to go pee.

Him: We just left the house.

Me: Yeah. Like, duh. I know that!

Him: Two minutes ago.

Me: So?

Him: And you JUST peed. Right before you got in the car.

Me: Yeah, what’s your point.

Him: I think you pee more times in the day than I breathe.

Me: So I’ve got a bladder the size of a thimble. So what? [cringes] Ooh! God! I don’t think I’m gonna make it. I have to go really bad. Like REALLY REALLY REALLY BAD!!

Him: Pee in the coffee cup. Here.

Me: What? Ew. Gross. No.

Him: Once I peed in a bottle…

Me: Do I have to hear this story again?

Him: …I was on the longest mail route of my life. Harpswell island. Had to deliver to like 100 houses. During a blizzard.

Me: I know, I know. You had to pee and there was no bathroom so you peed in a water bottle. I know. Congratulations. Isn’t that against some kind of Post Office law?

Him: I did it. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Me: Lucky bastard. Must be nice.

Him: It was one of those pees where you’ve held it in so long, you think you’re going to die. Just explode. Pee everywhere.

Me: You’re not helping me…

Him: You know the kind. I call it The New Man Pee. Because once you finally pee, you feel like you’re reborn. Like a new man again.

Me: Shut up.

Him: I love you.

Me: [sighs] I love you, too.

[silence]

Me: Oh thank god! A Dunkin Donuts! I’ll pee in there!

Him: Wait, don’t drive in there! You’re gonna get–

Me: Stuck. We’re stuck in the parking lot.

Him: Winter sucks.

Me: Yeah.

Humor

A Brief History of Sex (According to Me)

Hey, sweetie…let’s make love….Honey?
[…snoring…]

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I started to think sex was weird.

Maybe it was when we had that first health class in fifth grade and the creepy teacher passed around a maxi pad, urging us to discuss the feelings we had about the opposite sex and our changing bodies.

Maybe it was when my best friend informed me on the playground that Brian and Heather were making out in the trees next to the jungle gym.

In either case, I was left confused and mortified–probably because I thought getting your period only meant your life was cursed for all eternity (not too far off with that guess), and unless ‘making out’ meant a secret hide-n-seek game involving deciphering codes on a pirate’s treasure map, I wasn’t interested.

I can’t remember who told me exactly what sex entailed, and I’m not clear on what my reaction was when I found out. But I have a feeling it went something like this:

Friend: Then the boy puts his–

Me: NO! Nononononono! [plugging ears] I can’t hear you! lalalalalalalalala!

Friend: …and then the girl–

Me: Ahhh! AHHH! Stop! Stop talking! Oh, god! I just want to die!!! ahhhhhhhhhh!
[running away, flailing my arms and screaming at the top of my lungs]

Once I hit middle school age, the whole concept still struck me as being generally ugh-y and super icky.   Sex was this big mystery and I wasn’t sure I wanted to find out its secrets. Even innocent games of Spin the Bottle gave me panic attacks.  The bottle would spin in slow motion and I’d squeeze my eyes shut and silently pray, “Please don’t be me! Please don’t be me!”  My greatest fear was to be banished to a dark closet with a cute boy, fumbling around in the silence.  Sure, I had my crushes. I played my share of ‘kissing tag’ on the playground. I could understand the attraction part.  But I always felt a few steps behind the other kids whenever it concerned actual sex.  It all just seemed way too complicated and painfully embarrassing. First, why would anyone purposefully want to do that? And second, if I was ever going to do that, it could damn well wait until I at least loved the boy. Or didn’t think he had cooties.

College was filled with more confusion, bad dates, casual relationships here and there. Mostly, I spent my time in the library, holding out hope of finding my Mr. Right and not Mr. He’ll Do For Now, I Guess. Who knew libraries weren’t exactly a hotbed for singles looking for love?

Then in my 20s, I finally met the love of my life, my husband.

When you’re still in your 20s, sex is almost a constant need. You enjoy it, you look foward to it. You think it’s the greatest thing since microwave pizza. Finally you find someone that actually wants to do it with you all the time and you don’t mind! So you try to top yourselves with the sexathons:

“Hey, honey! Wanna do it again? I know! Let’s try and do it seven times in one day! We’ll break a world record!” or “Hey, honey! I just made a bologna sandwich. Wanna do it?” or “Hey, honey! It’s 2 pm. Wanna do it?” Sex is fun and giddy and full of lustful anticipation.

Then you get married, and a few years go by; you start to think, “Hey, let’s have a baby!” Suddenly sex completely transforms from this thing you once enjoyed immensely to this thing that hangs over both of you like a big black cloud sucking every ounce of pleasure out of your romantic relationship.

And if you’re like me and can’t get pregnant to save your life, sex becomes another chore. A long, drawn-out-over-two-years chore full of charts and temps and pinpointing ovulation and the phases of the moon.

“Hey, honey. Sorry, but we have to do it tomorrow at 3:15.” [sighing heavily]

“Huh? Well, I can’t, I’m at the gym then.”

“Nope. It’s 3:15. We only have a 14 hour  window for ovulation. My egg has already descended the fallopian tube and it’s waiting for your sperm. So the optimum fertilization time is tomorrow at 3:15. Oh and we have to tilt my uterus at a 45 degree angle, say a few prayers, light a sage incense, and then dance naked around a fire chanting Kumbaya under the new moon.”

“Again? Aw, man! Didn’t we just do all that last week? Great. Just great.” [heavy sigh]

I finally not only got pregnant but stayed pregnant. Nothing short of a miracle for me with my medical history. Also a testament to the hundreds of times we had stressful mechanical sex for the sole purpose of merging egg with sperm every cycle for over two years. Isn’t it romantic?

After a long labor and emergency c-section, my son arrived, healthy and perfect. It was at my first post-op appointment with my OB/GYN that taught me the next phase of sex: After kids.

Me [excitedly]: So…when can we have sex again? Once the stitches heal?

Doctor: Ha! Sex? Oh, no, no, no. You won’t be having sex again for awhile, trust me. [chuckling to himself]

Me: Because of the stitches?

Doctor: Because of your baby.

After my son turned four, I gave birth to my daughter and met with my doctor once again.

Me [excitedly]: So…when can I go on birth control again?

Doctor: Birth control? For what?

Me: For when we start to have sex again.

Doctor: [snickering] Ha! Sex? Oh, no, no, no. You won’t have to worry about that. You have two young kids under the age of five! Ask me again in about four years! [laughing so hard he starts to gasp for air]

Now my husband and I are forging ahead into new territory. We’re both in our early 40s. Our kids are much older and less reliant on us so we have more quality time alone.  We could have all the sex we want.

But now we’re just too damn tired.

Me: “Hey, honey…pssst…so…you wanna…”

Him: “Huh? Wha? Oh, I guess I was sleeping just then. What did you want?”

Me: [….snoring….]

Him: “Honey, wake up, what did you want?”

Me: “Oh…sorry I just nodded off there, too. Um, yeah, did you want to do it tonight or next Tuesday night?”

Him: “Well, Conan looks good tonight, he’s got Will Ferrel on so…aw, what the hell. Let’s do it! Honey? Honey!”

Me: [….snoring…..]

Him: “Yeah. We’ll do it Tuesday for….for…..[yawn]….suuuure….[…snoring…]

Family · Humor

In Your Eyes I Can See Forever…and Dinner

What did you want for dinner tonight?
I don't know, maybe meatloaf and potatoes?
We're outta potatoes, how about spaghetti?
Sure, sounds good.

Sometimes you might see them in a crowded restaurant. An older couple, married for decades, eating their meal in complete silence. Not a single word exchanged. The husband busy chewing his steak and gulping his beer; the wife busy clenching her jaw, sipping her wine and gazing wearily off to the side to meet your eyes with a  ‘this will be you one day’ look.

I used to think, how sad. Now I know better. It’s not simply that they exist in a loveless union or that the resentment they feel for each other has completely snuffed out every bit of desire to communicate. Oh, no, this couple just might really get each other. So content with the other’s existence that words aren’t necessary. It’s a safe place. A place as comfy and worn as an old pair of ratty slippers. My husband and I have been married 12 years and we’ve recently faced reality: we are comfy, worn and ratty in more ways than we’d care to admit.

In the beginning of every relationship, things are fresh and new; everything you learn about the other an exhilarating discovery. You’re giddy with love, lust and the sheer disbelief there is someone out there that actually wants to spend time with you. You get married, you spend every waking moment gushing and babbling about your love for the other. This honeymoon period may last a few years, then the stresses of kids, mortgages and jobs start to consume every aspect of your relationship. Busy schedules leave both of you exhausted. This is why communicating telepathically is such a rewarding and worthwhile experience in any married couples’ life.

Long ago my husband and I had given up on fighting or yelling or nagging (well, sometimes I truly can’t help the nagging part, it’s a necessary evil). But really, we were just wasting precious energy. If we kept up with those things, we’d never be able to find the strength to reach for the remote or walk to the fridge for a beer.

When we first fell in love, we were both full of endless chatter, enthusiastic about every topic. Now? Well, we still want to talk, but sometimes we’re just too burnt out to do anything more than grunt or nod. Add to that the constant interruptions from our kids, we found having a simple conversation was almost impossible. So naturally, our interactions have slowly developed over the years, finally progessing to the point where we only communicate our innermost thoughts with subtle facial expressions. We are so in sync now, we just read each other’s mind–almost like we share one brain. Which is good because mine is almost gone.

Here’s a quick rundown of our 14 year relationship:

The Early Years–just dating and full of nonstop mind-numbing chatter

Him: So, what kind of music do you like? I’m really into Metallica…

Me: Ooh, wow, yeah I love Metallica! Well, just Enter Sandman, that’s the only song I know, but I love them soooo much! They like, totally rock!

Him: Yeah, totally, dude!

Me: They are SO cool.

Him: Totally!  I think I have a track here somewhere…

Me: OOH! WOW! Yeah! Once I almost saw them in concert, but my roommate, like, totally flaked so instead I saw Aerosmith.

Him: Get out! I love them!

Me: Yeah! And this one time, I was in the third row and I swear to GOD Steven Tyler winked at me!

Him: NO WAY!

Me: BLAH! Blahblahblahblibbityblibbityblahblahblahblahblah…

Him: Blahblahblah?

Me: Blah-blah BLAH blah blah! Blahblahblahblah! BLAH! Blahblahblahblahblah—
(etc. etc.)

Mid-marriage–about seven years in, conversations getting more blunt and to the point

(Metallica’s Enter Sandman blaring from husband’s stereo)

Me: Oh my god! Turn that crap off!

Him: What? I thought you liked them!

Me: No. I never said that. God, turn it off!

Him: No way, you always get to listen to your music. Aerosmith! Pssbbbt. God, they suck!

Me: Well, I can’t stand it! Turn it off!

Him: Don’t you dare turn it off! Don’t you dare–

Me: Hmmph! (turning off stereo)

Him: Gah!

Me:  Gah!

Married 12 Years–verbal communication not necessary

Husband pops Metallica CD into car radio.

Me: (glares)

Him: (pushes play and sheepishly raises his eyebrows)

Me: (glares, flares nostrils)

Him: (smiles cautiously)

Me: (narrows eyes)

Him: (slumps, takes Metallica CD and throws it out car window)

Me: (tilts chin up, smiles smugly)

See? So much energy was saved with a simple exchange of looks and gestures. Silence is golden. And this works with even the most complicated thoughts. Just imagine the secret discussions you and your spouse could have and no one would be the wiser!

With this next scenario, our secret language of slight gestures/expressions are in parenthesis. I will do the translating of our inner thoughts in italics for those out there who are telepathically-impaired or haven’t been married that long.

Discussing Easter plans with the in-laws:

Mother-in-law: “So what are you guys doing for Easter?”

Me: (side glance at husband) They are not coming to our house for dinner, we don’t have enough room and I am not going to cook.

Him: (raises one eyebrow) What if I do all the cooking?

Me: (opens mouth,  tips head to the side, rubs forehead, glares) You can’t be serious! You know damn well I would be the one left cleaning up all the mess and then you’ll run off to talk with your parents while I am stuck watching the kids and listening to my mother discuss her lactose-intolerance!

Him: (leans head back, scratches chin, sideways glance) Okay, so what if we have dinner at their house? (shrugs) My dad can cook, my mom can watch the kids and you can go for a walk by yourself, maybe catch up on some of your reading or go grab a cup of coffee? (rubs stomach) I know Starbucks has that cinnamon dolce latte you love so much…

Me: (smiles, rubs chin, eyes twinkle) Okay, sounds good. (leans forward, narrows eyes, flares nose) But I swear to God if your parents bring up politics in any way, shape or form I am outta there in a heartbeat (raises eyebrows, half smile) and tell your dad to make that German potato salad I like, (wrinkles nose) but make sure he goes easy on the pepper, I don’t do spicy. (glares, nods slightly) You know I don’t do spicy.

Him: (smiles) Done deal.

Mother-in-law: “Okay! So, it’s a plan. You’ll eat over at our place and Dad will make you the potato salad with no pepper!”

Both of us: (mouths drop open) Wow, she is GOOD.

Mother-in-law: “I know. Been married 42 years.”

Humor

How (Not) to Argue with a Woman

My husband and I will celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary this April. Before we were married, we lived together in a tiny apartment for another two years. That’s fourteen years of being ‘up in each other’s bidnezz’ as they say on the streets.  Quite a long time to spend being forced to share bathroom sink space and remote control possession.  Boundaries are pushed to the limit and arguments happen.  To survive (and because we love each other dearly), we’ve managed to learn each other’s habits and quirks well enough to know when to draw the line in the sand, and when to toss the damned stick aside and run like hell in the other direction. Most of the time, arguing is simply not worth it. We’ve learned to carefully tiptoe around the little piles of poop minefield, because really, we’re much too old and tired now to want to risk stepping in it.  And once it hits the fan, well, the clean up is a bitch.

Sometimes no matter what the situation, I can get testy. The kind of testy that happens when you poke a sharp stick at a sleeping bear. It may or may not have to do with hormones, but I will let you in on this secret–mysteriously enough, it intensifies once a month.  I’ll feel this gnawing ball of  aggravation in the pit of my stomach that seems to have struck out of the clear blue sky.  It’s not about anything specifically. It could be about anything, everything or nothing–most likely all three at once. Confused? That makes two of us. And this sudden black storm cloud of emotion churns and grows, finally blowing into a gigantic eruption of anger, which honestly, I have no control over. I am as surprised at my outburst of irritation as my husband. (Don’t tell him I said that.) Once the volcano starts, it just can’t be stopped. “Thar she blows! Run for your life!”

My husband is a good man. He’s smart, funny, loving. But he doesn’t know how to argue with me.  We’ve had, on average, approximately one doozie of an argument every five years or so. We get it out of our system and settle back into the comfy trappings of marriage. It’s the little squabbles though, the ones about the endless laundry and errands–those are the ones he has trouble with to this day.

Most of the time, he doesn’t realize we were arguing.   In fact, I’ve noticed that during the argument, he seems astounded as to what’s happening and therefore doesn’t know how to react.  Even worse, he has no tools to help him cope with the inevitable fallout once I notice that after all my ranting and raving, he is still standing there like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming souped up mack truck filled with crazed hunters packing Uzis.

So men, I want to give you a few tips to help you through any argument–real or imagined. (First tip: they are all real to us.)

These tips might help you prevent an argument from even starting in the first place.  We really don’t want to have to run you over like a Mack truck. But you make it so damn easy.

Let’s look at the anatomy of what starts out as an innocent ‘discussion’, shall we?

Scene: A married couple are in the kitchen after a long day at work. The woman is running around in circles attempting to make a dent in the disaster that is their home. The man is leaning on the counter, reading the newspaper, and eating chips and salsa over the sink.

Woman: Ugh! What the–? The dishes are clean?

Man: Huh?

Woman: The dishes!

Man: What?

Woman: Why are they still in the dishwasher?

Man: Huh?

Woman: I said, the DISHES! (Woman points at the dishwasher)

Man: What? (Man scoops up another salsa-laden chip and crams it in his mouth)

Woman: I thought they were dirty!  But they’re clean and now I put the dirty dishes in and all the gross spaghetti sauce from the dinner I slaved over last night that you failed to help me clean up AGAIN spilled all over the clean glasses that YOU failed to empty AGAIN and why didn’t you empty them? Huh? Do I have to do everything? You just don’t CARE do you? No! If it wasn’t for me, this entire house would crumble around us! I have so many things to do all day and deal with the kids and my mother and the shopping and the cooking and the cleaning and then I come home and you don’t care that the dishes have to be cleaned again and why are you still standing there eating chips?! God! You’re dripping salsa all over the place! God! You drive me crazy!  I am NOT cleaning THAT up! Oh, no! You’ve got another thing comin’ if you think I’ll clean up your mess! You can do it! And you know what else? YOU can reclean the dishes in the dishwasher! Yeah! How ’bout that, huh? I’m not the only one who’s tired, y’know? A little help from you would be nice, y’know? Give me those damn chips!

(Woman yanks chip bag out of the man’s hands)

Man: What? I don’t know what you want me to do! You took my chips!  I…uh….why are you getting so mad? Why? What did I do?

Woman: AHHHHHHHH! God!
(Woman crumples the chip bag and throws it onto the counter. Salsa and chips scatter everywhere. Man’s mouth drops open.)

End Scene.

Okay. The first thing you may notice is the man had four golden opportunities to turn things around right from the start. Four chances to prevent a chip and salsa disaster. Instead, his responses just heightened the woman’s irritation, causing it to snowball into Armageddon within mere nanoseconds. Here’s what you need to do instead:

Rule No. 1: Pay attention. Focus. Figure out what she’s saying to you, immediately. Act like your life depends on it. You can tell by the tone of her voice how close she is to cracking. When you hear that voice, drop the chips, drop the salsa, drop everything.

Rule No. 2: Never act bewildered. Even if you don’t know what she’s talking about, just pretend you do. Nod your head. Empathize. Agree. You need to let her know you are on her side. And again, put the chips down.

Rule No. 3: Never answer in one word sentences. Never answer with another question.

Rule No. 4: Never stand there shoveling chips and salsa into your mouth while her life is spinning out of control right in front of you.

Rule No. 5: Never act like her meltdown is unfair. It may very well be blown out of proportion, but you need to match her emotions before she one ups you. Pretend you are just as upset. Say something like, “Oh no! The dishes! Oh, that’s terrible! God!”

Rule No. 6: Apologize, apologize, apologize. Even if it’s not your fault. Even if you know it was her turn with the dishes and you were the one who made the spaghetti sauce the night before.  Just tell her you’re sorry. Over and over again.

Rule No. 7:  If you see she’s still in a tizzy, step in and actually do the thing she’s asking you to do. Yes, clean the dishes for her. Tell her to go sit down on the couch for a minute and you’ll take care of it. Really, it’s just dishes. If you don’t offer to help,  consider yourself signed up for a week long marathon of The Good and Pissed Off Wife.

Rule No. 8: Never ask her, “Why are you so mad?” This is the equivalent of dumping a can of gasoline on a roaring fire.

Rule No. 9: And for God’s sake, never, ever say, “What did I do?” That is a Pandora’s box you don’t want to bust open, trust me.

So now that you know these rules, let’s start the scene again:

Woman: Ugh! What the–? The dishes are clean?

Man: They are? Let me see. (Man puts the chip bag down on the counter and peers into the dishwasher) Oh, man! They ARE clean! I’m sorry. I must have forgotten to take them out. Don’t worry, I’ll take them out and get it all cleaned up. You go sit on the couch and watch some TV before dinner, okay? (Man starts taking the dishes out of the dishwasher)

Woman: Oh, that’s okay. I’ll help you. It was probably my fault.

Man: Oh, no. It was my fault. I’m sorry. I am really, really sorry. So very sorry.

Woman: That’s okay.

Man: No. I mean it. I am sorry.

(Woman and Man put dishes away together. Chip bag and salsa are intact.)

End Scene.

See? That wasn’t so bad, was it?

I have faith in you guys. I know you can do it. If you follow the above rules, I guarantee you’ll come out of every potential minor and major squabble (mostly) unscathed.

Good luck.

reflections

Coffee Cups and Wedding Rings

The two of us fishing on Little Sebage lake, that lazy, hazy summer of 98

I was just a few months shy of my 28th birthday when I first laid eyes on my husband. I had just recently come to the conclusion that I was destined to live and die alone, surrounded by nothing more than my beloved cats and cherished Beatles CD collection. After yet another disastrous date the week before, I had given up.  And I was completely fine with it. My cats loved me and I loved John Lennon. Life was good. Continue reading “Coffee Cups and Wedding Rings”