Married people and how they talk
A few days ago my mom apparently hit the door of a person in a parking lot in Princeton. She said he was "young, a mamma's boy, probably a professor and possibly middle-eastern." I was still trying to absorb the fact that she had hit this guy's door. "I asked him if he was married," she added. "I think he was offended."
'Wait, a minute," I said. "Did the door come off?"
"No," she said, scornfully, "Well, not completely. I wanted to go to the Honda dealer but he called his mother. It was pathetic."
"Did the police come?"
"Yes." She sighed. "He wasn't used to people arguing."
"Why did you ask him if he was married?"
"Because we were bickering and he didn't seem to understand that people bicker. I think he thought I was trying to figure out if he was gay. He didn't like the question."
No shit. But I thought about her point about getting used to the way married people sometimes exchange information and realized I knew what she meant.
Back in the old days when I had boyfriends and lovers I would never, ever speak to any of them the way I frequently address my husband. I would never suggest they were driving too close to another driver or that they were selfish for forgetting the milk or not emptying the dishwasher. All I cared about was sex and being told I was beautiful and whether I could squeeze into some pair of jeans I once could squeeze into but not anymore and so what?
I'm married and now I spend the majority of my time bickering about money, household chores, time issues, unwanted house guests and politics. Who fed the cat? Who's going to Costco? Why do you expect me to put your clothes in the dryer? Do you really want that fifth lamb chop?
Back in the day I treated my men like special people, cooking them omelette's and listening to their endless plans to write novels and looking for ways to make them feel good. I asked thoughtful questions and made kind suggestions. Now we end most of our evenings watching one of the sex offender crime shows falling asleep to someone confessing to something horrendous.
We were taken out to a splendid dinner last night by my husband's newlywed son and his bride. It was one of those places where they keep bringing meat on skewers. I had the salad bar which had tons of non-salad things like a massive bowl of bacon. During dinner there was a pleasant banter but when the check came (they were treating us) the bride started squeaking about the cost and the groom responded and I thought, "Oh my God, they sound like married people."
On a recent trip to Michigan I managed to nag my husband in rapid succession about the following: Parking, finances, family, exercise, diet and time management. And then I drew breath.
My girlfriend behavior was all smoke and mirrors but don't we still need a little of this?
Maybe. But my husband needs to learn how to drive and eat and schedule his time better. If some old lady hits his car you better believe he'll know how to bicker.