Friday, March 28, 2014

The Importance of Communication

Opie and I are traveling today and as we drive toward St. Louis I can't help but reflect on the odd conversations he gets to have now that he's lucky enough to have hitched his star to my lunatic wagon.

Here's what happened: we're heading to St. Louis to celebrate our niece's second birthday (and, as always, he likes me to alert potential blog reading thieves that the house is NOT empty. We have a dog sitter and a large dog--seek elsewhere for your burglary victims!). Anyway, the plan was we would pack the night before, I would go teach my morning class, and as soon as I got home, we would jump in the car and speed away.

Unfortunately, this has been kind of a busy week and when I got up this morning, I not only wasn't packed, I still had several things to do to get the house ready for the dog sitter's arrival.

In my defense, it has been a stressful week. Plus, we went to Florida 2 weeks ago and I packed early for that trip. I hardly think I should be expected to curb the artistic procrastinating nature of my creative brain twice in the same month.

But he feels about punctuality the same way Vince Lombardi feels about winning: it's not everything, it's the only thing.

Of course, instead of quietly informing him of the problem and asking for a little help, I preferred to stew about it while I got ready for work, imagine an argument in my head, WIN the argument in my head, and then launch a preemptive strike.

"I'm not ready to go." I burst out with absolutely no provocation.  "I'm going to have to pack when I get home and do a couple of things around the house and I'm totally stressed out about it! So, here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to give you a list of things NOT to do so you don't stress me out further."

At which point he gave me an odd look and said "Ohhhhhkay." In the kind of calm, half hesitant tone one uses when dealing with escaped mental patients.

Which, oddly, did nothing at all to lower my stress level.

"First, don't ask me when l will be ready to leave! I'll be ready when I'm done with everything and who knows when that will be?!"

"I can't even get an ETA?" He asked.

"Second," I continued without even bothering to address the sheer ridiculousness of that question. "Don't give me advice about how to get ready faster or mention things I should have done earlier to avoid the situation we're in today."

And he was smart enough not to share any of the suggestions that I could already see percolating away in his well organized brain.

"Third, don't do that thing where you talk to the dogs and make suggestions to them about what I should be doing which are clearly meant for my ears."

"YOU do that all the time." He accused.

"It's funny when I do it," I explained.  "But, must importantly, don't do that thing where you pretend to be pretending to be mad. And you say a bunch of things in a fake angry tone to disguise your real angry tone and make jokes that aren't jokes at all but sound enough like jokes that you can say 'I was JOKING' like I'm the crazy person when we both know you're not joking and only pretending to be pretending to be mad!"

And I think it's a testament to the strength of our relationship that he didn't even need a translation of this rather convoluted statement.

Although, to be fair, that could have been more due to a deep-seeded sense of terror more than true understanding.

Please note, I specifically did NOT tell him that he couldn't get mad. He is all kinds of punctual and prepared; I know these lapses in planning send him right over the edge. So I know he gets mad. I just basically don't want him to tell me he's mad when I'm already freaking out. Otherwise, in the words of comedian Mike Birbiglia, I get counter mad, freak out more, cry, and then he feels the need to apologize and buy me a cupcake.

And this may sound crazy to you, dear readers, but I would like to point out that it worked. We got packed and on the road only about half an hour later than we intended, we didn't argue at all, and are having a calm cross country drive.

Crisis averted!

But I still kind of want a cupcake.

This is the face of a man too focused on "making good time" to go on a cupcake shop reconnaissance mission.


  1. Good luck on your life's journey with this woman, Opie!

    1. At least he can't say his journey is a boring one, Doc!