NOW What?

I searched my feelings, an activity never far removed from looking for a dead rat in a spidery crawl space under the houseWhen she looked up at me again her eyes were narrow and cold and not entirely devoid of hatred. I had been wasting her time, and that was the worst thing I could have done.

-Michael Chabon

"What have I done to piss you off now?" is not the kind of thing I want to hear, much less read in an email, which is open to an interpretation like: What have I done to piss you off NOWWWWW?"


See, I think that suggests a reaction to a certain consistent, longterm level of hostility.

So my kneejerk response was, "Ohhh, I'm sorry, I think you have me confused with a WIFE..."

I didn't say that though (because I'm learning not to type when I'm upset), but I think "now" implies that this was just the latest in a long chain of perennial and perpetual pissed off moments.

Yeah...I know.

"Good call," is what you're thinking...but you'd be wrong.

Contrary to the screaming shrew that I think we can all agree is personified by the word "NOW," I've been angry with the aforementioned correspondent precisely ONE time, in six months.

He'd asked me out for Labor Day weekend, and then blew me off. OK. Plans change. But it WAS my first holiday off in a year, and I'd turned down about 73 invitations to keep the weekend open, and he left, not with an apology, but with a jaunty: "See ya. Maybe I'll holler at you Sunday."

Well. Anybody who knows me even casually might've predicted that this would've been... ill received. Anybody who knows me well might've counseled him to make sure he was never in the same room with me and a blunt instrument.

And yet, improbably enough, that all blew over.

In fact, we eventually came to a full understanding of each other's respective... positions. Several times. In a row.

I found that my capacity for conflict resolution grew in direct proportion to his... agenda. Which was... impressive.

Perhaps there are more mature, evolved ways to solve problems... my point is: who cares?

Still, I'd have been smart not to overestimate my... charms, which are apparently limited.

Instead, I was like one of those stupid 80s lab rats that tested cocaine for its addictive properties. I kept on pressing that dang bar, long, long after the supply had been cut off.

At least with the rats, once the rewards are randomized, a few of the (smarter) rodents wise up and mosey on.

Not me. I'd been pressing that lever (so to speak) for months, with results so sporadic (albeit spectacular) as to be "statistically insignificant."

I'm not made of wood, people. Yeah, yeah, patience is a virtue. But then again, so's chastity... So bite me.

Maybe I spend too much time with my wingmen, but according to them, I am the better deal: I don't have roommates; I don't have a cat; I have no interest in marriage or pregnancy; I rarely have time to stay over, and if I do, I don't plant girlie things in the medicine cabinet to stake out my turf, and I'm gone by dawn, so nobody's ever had to fake a seizure to get me to leave (that's very important to them).

Admittedly, their standards are low. Also, they spend a great deal of time obsessing about superheros, so it's possible I should not seek them out for mature and enlightened counsel.

My point is, that it's not like I've suddenly turned into THAT girl (that girl who cross-stitches new monograms on His and Hers hand towels...that girl whose third bead of the rosary is reserved for Vera Wang). All I've EVER asked out of this is a basic observance of the law of supply and demand.

Sure, there have been SOME legitimate scheduling conflicts - many familial (and beyond argument) - but I'd been so far beyond a good sport about those that I practically deserved canonization (and I'm pretty sure we achieved at least one or two miracles, and that IS one of the criterion for sainthood).

But then there was a small - but symbolic - incident, and I felt forced to throw in the towel. Even then, I didn't quite give up.

Given that most flings rarely outlast the expiration dates on the dairy products at my house (and that this is almost always my fault), I decided, in fairness, to seek out a male perspective, from my better half.

I explained the circumstances briefly, but with righteous indignation.

Then I asked, now why do you think I was upset?

His first answer was, "Well I know ONE thing. It is CERTAINLY NOT because you have PMS!"

Adding, "...because that's how I got this scar." (As he is fond of telling people, our marriage may be a sham - but our fights are very, very real.)

Then he asked, "Well, did you tell him why you were upset?"

Uhh duhhhhhhh.

I couldn't believe he didn't remember (from looong experience) the answer to THAT question, which is, "IF YOU DON't KNOW, I am CERTAINLY NOT GOING TO TELL YOU." (And he knows better than anybody my pathological aversion to Big Talks. Communication is my job; I'm off the clock once I get home.)

I think the reason he forgot is because he usually bypasses that part of the exchange entirely. Because at the first sign of conflict, he wisely progresses straight to those three little words every woman wants to hear most: "I was wrong."

Fight over.

Some men might find such an approach emasculating... but I refer those guys to the wingmen, who counter with this, "would you rather be right, in FriendshipLand? Or would you rather be wrong... in NakedLand?"