A successful marriage has more to do with the ability to negotiate than almost any other trait a couple might claim.
Knowing when to keep quiet helps, too. As does the ability to accept the other person’s annoying habits, which tend to be amplified the more time you spend with each other. John Legend expresses it quite soulfully, if a bit too positively for me, in his “All of Me” ballad, “’Cause all of me loves all of you/ Love your curves and all your edges/ All your perfect imperfections.”
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Perfect imperfections. I could write an opus on those. Anybody could, really, as these peculiar mannerisms are what make each of us both human and unique.
Lately, one of The Hubby’s perfect imperfections has been like a pebble in my shoe. A piece of food between my teeth. An eyelash in my eye. A ringing in my ear. The accident blocking the road when I’m already running late. Get the picture?
The Hubby talks to inanimate objects. Not just any object, of course. That would be … well, weird. His habit of answering and arguing with things takes a more targeted approach.
He has entire conversations with the blaring TV, for example. And he shouts at it only under certain conditions, usually during the news. Though I’ve heard him engage with other programs as well; notably talk shows. Some of his more quotable bon mots:
“What were they thinking?!?!”
“What happened to Darwin’s theory on survival of the fittest?”
“Are you kidding me? Are you freaking kidding me?”
“Some people don’t have mirrors, obviously.”
And my personal favorite: “Do you hear yourself? Do you have any clue what you sound like?”
He has also been known to talk back to his laptop, our remote control, the car radio, and Google maps when it gives him inexplicable directions. Those interactions tend to be more grunts, sprinkled with a few chosen words expressing a constellation of frustrations. I suppose we all do this, to some extent or another, but what troubles me is the pace and length of those conversations, as if he were pausing to give the gadget time to defend itself.
Being a good wife, I lost no time in pointing out this disturbing habit. I did it with the same kindness and patience I employ when calling attention to the mess he has made or the selfishness he has exhibited by eating the last slice of cherry pie, never mind that I expressly told him he needed to help me cut back on my sugar intake.
His reaction? Predictable.
“So?” he replied, shrugging his shoulders. “Everybody does it.”
Though I initially argued, I later discovered he was right. An unscientific survey of friends revealed that many of us have developed a special relationship with technology, an intimacy that has become more pronounced as we grow dependent on Alexa and Echo and Siri, and all other iterations of modern-day helpmates.
Humanizing objects is only natural, I suppose, when we spend so much time with them. We all know people who have named their cars, people who have wept openly when their favorite something or other is stolen. It feeds our need for connection.
I’m trying my best to understand this. After all, I sometimes have conversations with my computer monitor when I’m writing; though this is more monologue than dialogue, and it involves mostly shouting and disparaging. Now that I’m in confessional mode, I might as well admit to also maintaining an unhealthy relationship with my keyboard, as it can be easily blamed for all my creative woes.
And the best part of this bond? Unlike spouses and children, neither keyboard nor monitor has ever sassed back. I loom wise in their presence. Maybe that’s how The Hubby feels about the TV, the remote control and the GPS.