Best of 2009: When we Fight

The following is a re-post first published August 27th, (re-enacted a dozen or so times since then.)

He hammers the mirror into the door. It's been weeks since I first asked him to do so, but right now is when he decides it should be done. He has found his perfect opportunity to avoid the silence that permeates our second act, in between "fight" and "forgiveness:"

Act One: We fight
Act Two: We avoid
Act Three: We forgive

When we fight, he insists on handy work that involves screwdrivers and hammers, nailing in shelves and oiling doors so that they don't squeak. Bang, bang, bang until the nails are flush with the wall and the mirror hangs perfectly straight.

When we fight he doesn't answer his phone so it rings and rings and mine does too, vibrating until it moves clear across the desk and falls with a crack on the floor.

When we fight I walk with hard steps: Click, click, click even though I'm wearing flat shoes. I hold Fable in my arms like a shield as Hal asks Archer if he'd like to play Connect Four again for the twenty-seventh time.

When we fight we try to out-parent each other. Diapers are changed the second they feel wet. Meals are topped with garnishes, anything to make our children smile, laugh, climb our limbs like trees and "again, Mommy! Again!"

I'm the favorite.
No, I am!
When we fight, love songs make me cringe so I change the music - something with no words, por favor. A piano sonata?

When we fight I take the dogs for a walk. Ask Hal if he wants to come with me and when he says, "Sure. Let me put my shoes on," roll my eyes because I'd rather walk alone.

When we fight I walk behind him so that I can stick my tongue out at the back of his head and he can look upon a view unobstructed. When we fight he tries not to lose his temper over little things and I try not to lose my temper over him losing his tempter and he clutches the handle of the stroller a little tighter as I peek through the windows of immaculate homes and wonder what I would be doing if I lived there.
What if for the remainder of the afternoon, I could switch places with a woman not in a fight with her husband? Someone who could afford to hire a dozen men to nail in her mirrors.

And then I host a brief conversation with myself in my head that goes like this:

"Don't be an asshole."
"But my husband doesn't GET me!"
"Ah. but the problem is that he gets you too much!"
"Don't be an asshole!"
When we fight I look at our cars, parallel parked on the street, one behind the other and feel suddenly gobsmacked by the fact that they aren't speaking. Their engines click but other than that, no sound.

When we're in a fight we yawn and cough in unison, say the same things at the same time (jinks!) and pretend not to notice. Because no boxer wants to get in the ring with her opponent clad in identical satin shorts.

GGC Presents: Woolf vs. Isaacson (in matching boxers) Live at the WTF Grand!

When we fight I reorganize Fable's drawers at lightning speed and when that's finished I get on my hands and knees to scrub the spots out of the wood floors and then I plan tomorrow's outfit, hang it on the inside of my closet above the shoes.

When we fight I always cook because if I cook that means he will eat what I have made him and that makes me feel like I've mastered him in some way. Over dinner we speak to our children but not to each other. We take turns making Fable laugh, filling Archer's glass with water, passing things just to pass them until our laps are weighted down with napkins.

When we fight I insist on doing the dishes even though he stands over my shoulder and says, "Stop. Let me do them!" and I say, "No! It's fine. I'm doing them already can't you see!"

"But you don't have to."

"I know."

"So leave them."


When we fight he waits for me to finish the dishes and then re-washes them one by one and I become furious because I did a fine job washing those dishes thank you very much and if it wasn't such a waste of water I would likely wash them again...

... and it would go on and on like this until our fingers were pruned and the dishes were all in pieces...

When we fight we always wait for the children to fall asleep before we make-up.

I ask him is he's mad at me and then he launches into his insanely brilliant monologue and I roll my eyes and he raises his voice and I cry and we talk for an hour or two or sometimes all night until I am laughing and he has lost his voice.

Because when we fight? He becomes some kind of demented motivational speaker and suddenly I can't remember what either of us were ever angry about. Instead I just want to cheer and clap and go out and do something amazing like change the world or someone's mind...

... never mind all that. Let's just cuddle.

Meanwhile, the dishes are done (several times over) and the house is clean and every drawer has been reorganized. The door no longer squeaks and the mirror has been successfully mounted on the wall and the night is still young enough to make up for an afternoon without eye-contact.

So after we fight, we do just that.