In the antithesis of The Sound of Music, these are a few of my least favorite things. Kim Kardashian taking herself seriously and parlaying nothing – not talent, a lukewarm personality and a sex tape into a fortune, I loathe stupidity being rewarded, I dislike Fifty Shades of Grey and it’s afterbirth – same reason. I dislike the use of pacifically when they mean specifically, intensive purposes instead of for all intents and purposes. I’m a closeted grammar Nazi, and truth told, Kate and I follow Hemingway in this blog, write drunk, edit sober, well mostly sober, but it’s mostly proper and when in doubt, we call super smart Nick. I dislike people who have to tell you how much everyone loovvveess them. Likability is like being powerful, if you have to tell someone about it, it’s not so. I dislike the butt end of a bread loaf, raisins in the place of chocolate chips, and I don’t like beets, cheats, or skull meats – no barbacoa for this girl. I don’t like tight underpants, hugs with pats on the back, and women who call me “dear” or “hon”. I don’t like boob sweat, or visible panty lines, or lining lips over and above nature. These are a few of my least favorite things. I don’t like advice from people who don’t know the whole story, or cast ignorant judgements. What I dislike the most, above all else, is conflict. I’m no good with it, except for a few fires I’ve thrown at a soulless end where there was nothing left to lose. But in ordinary time, I’m a big-picture, peace loving, build a bridge, eat some feelings kind of girl. I don’t know if my way is right or healthy, but it’s all I know. This is a blog about words that can’t be taken back, forgiveness, absolution, and the reverse, the denial of amnesty. So let’s dig deep, let’s talk about anger and her daughters, fear and insecurity. Let’s talk about animosity, how it manifests, and what we do with it.
Kitty Litter Method
When my children were very small and I was newly single, someone I love told me I would be alone forever, no man would take on a woman with three children from another man. I don’t even think she realized she said this out loud, it was like her innermost thoughts accidentally seeped out of her mouth and crashed on me. It embarrassed both of us, and it riled my anger, but no more was spoken of it. I could have said, “What do you know about it?” I could have told her she had hurt my feelings, but I did neither. She had dropped a deuce and we covered it up, kitty littered it, and no more was ever spoken of it. It’s interesting to me that I’m using this example, it was almost twenty years ago, but those words have stayed with me. That’s the problem with kitty littering the deal, there is no talking it out, no resolution, no forgive and forget. The words she spoke were already germinating, taking root and twisting around me without her saying them out loud. It took some time for me to realize that her words were spoken in the context of another generation, a sweeping generality, and not spoken with malice. I pulled those words out by the root, realizing that my allowing someone to be in my children’s lives, well, that was a gift. Forgiveness was easy with this, even though the words have stuck with me all these years – can’t unring a bell, and my apathy at the time have kept the words just below the surface – but sometimes who is saying the words and their point of reference makes a difference. A big one. Love makes forgiveness easy, kitty littering the words make forgetting them more difficult. Every time I get in a new relationship, my mind escavates those long ago spoken words, dusts them off, and sniffs them to see if they are still fresh. This method of dealing with conflict and anger is the Scarlett O’Hara of resolution: I’ll worry about it tomorrow.
The Difference with Indifference
When I was first with Tim, we went to dinner with one of his friends and he had brought a date, for the life of me I can’t remember her name – I’ll call her Trixie. It was a nice enough evening. The next day Trixie called me and said she needed to talk to me about something important. She told me she didn’t agree with dating a younger man and she had a real problem with it. I told her then she probably shouldn’t date a younger man, but my life wasn’t up for a majority vote. The fucking gall. She continued to argue her case, and I tuned the heifer out, remembering that Tim had told me his friend and Trixie had met and immediately had sex in the ladies room at a local bar less than a week before. I didn’t care what she thought about one single thing, and certainly didn’t put any value in her opinion – it’s like porn, if you don’t like it, don’t look at it. I told her as much, if you don’t like it, don’t do it. Trixie wasn’t around long and moved on to the next dude with a money clip and poor impulse control. No one can honestly say, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me.” We do, we care, but what’s important to remember with that is we should only care about what some people think of us, the ones we love, the people in our lives who have earned the right to have an opinion, and an opinion we respect. Indifference works, and as they say, Trix are for kids.
Sorry, not Sorry
Viking and I are good. Kevin Bacon once said that the secret to his happy marriage is to keep the fights clean and the sex dirty. Bacon knows some things. Viking and I have had 2, not disagreements, certainly not fights, but elephants in the room. It’s important to note that Viking’s last relationship was with a woman who would not apologize, under any circumstances, and he was accustomed to making internal reconciliations. In the first instance, I was wrong, and I said so, and apologized. He was quiet for a minute. This was new for both of us. I was with a man who spoke about what he was feeling and he was with a woman who was willing to accept the blame when warranted. We talked about it, we found resolution, both times, without too much hoopla. I’m a resolution kind of girl. It calms me. I’m uncomfortable with conflict. Viking has taught me the simple power of an apology. I have only been with men who wouldn’t engage in the conversation, their own kind of kitty litter, and I have found that talking through conflict, finding resolution, is probably one of the most intimate things I’ve ever encountered. Be still my heart.
Fire and Ice and Toast
Kate is different with anger. Different with conflict. She doesn’t just burn a bridge, she does a double flip off it, nails the landing, and then torches the mother fucker, watching until it is ashes. Not always, but sometimes, dancing a jig by firelight. She is very comfortable with rage. We, for all intents and purposes, balance the other. Kate is unafraid to speak her mind, give her anger air, and after the words, is capable of cutting all ties with the offender. She has that kind of confidence, and I admire it. I tend to be Switzerland, which feels kind of milquetoast next to her chili pepper fire, but like I said, we balance. Something happened this week and she and I have been navigating the conflict and pooling our fire and toast to find a suitable stance. Let me explain. Her middle son recently graduated from college and was married. They are a young married couple with his wife still in college and his preparing to leave for Virginia with an aviation contract with the Marines, and in their few months of marriage have not been able to live together – simply circumstance and short term – and something he and his wife have made peace with. A couple of nights ago, Kate’s son received a call from his father-in-law. It was not a pleasant call. The father-in-law began with listing, what he considered, all of the young groom’s faults, his failings as a husband, and ended with telling him he thought he would man-up by now. Kate’s son is much like her. He didn’t lose his shit on the call, but he was ready to cut his wife’s parents out of his life forever and ever. When Kate heard about it, she struck a match and put on her tap shoes. I tried to persuade both of them to make peace – their families were tied together, build a bridge, make a truce. Fucking Switzerland, but seriously, an acrimonious relationship with the in-laws would only hurt the young wife, she loses. I’m built to smother conflict, find harmony. And then Kate’s son said one simple sentence, and it gave me pause. He said, “ I could eat this, but it sets a precedent, and they think it’s always going to be acceptable to speak to me this way.” Point and match. The man-child speaks truth. In my quest for diplomacy, there have been occasions when it was simply surrender, I realize now. Not fire, not toast, but maybe the simple declaration of ‘no’ is unrivaled. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe that’s perfect.
Let’s end on a high note. These are a few of my favorite things. I like when I lose a couple of pounds on accident, I like witty banter and sharp minds. I like hand written letters, old school card games and silly riddles. I like dogs. I like useless facts, sweet little kisses, toe rings, and fresh cut grass. I delight in babies when they giggle, looking at the stars, high heels and high hopes. I like belly laughs and tears of joy. I like cake, a lot. I like love, and I like perseverance. But most of all I like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, am I right?
Go forth and conquer.