Apr 10, 2005

Which is where you'll see me walking

I avoid it, if I can, riding with couples that have been together this long. It’s not that I think long stable relationships are a bad thing, but being trapped in a car in the middle of one, that's a bad thing.

So we're driving over to Canada, through the checkpoint and up the road a little while and the driver’s trying to convert kilometers to miles in his head to have some idea when we’ll be there and we miss our turn. Maybe. Or maybe it’s still ahead.

Did you miss the turn? she says.

I don’t know, he says. I thought it was farther up.

Did you see the signs?

Not since the checkpoint.

No, there were signs just back there. You didn’t see the signs?

I didn’t see them,
he says. Did you see them?

No. Do you think you missed the turn?

I don't know,
he says, a little too loud and clenching his jaw and then, trying to switch courses, Should I turn around?

Well don’t turn around,
she says.Not if you didn’t miss the turn.

And so we’re still driving the same way except that now the driver-husband doesn’t know anything for sure except that whatever he knows is wrong. So he's getting angrier and angrier and trying to count to ten, stay on the road and breathe, all at the same time. She's not looking at him and she's looking out the window pretending it's interesting and pretending she's not noticing he's trying not to blow and she's so silent she's exuding I told you so.

I'm in the back trying to disappear, which doesn't seem to be working, and we're driving along more and more uncomfortable. Then he remembers something from counseling, or something someone said they'd say in counseling, and he leans his head to the side to look sympathetic or concerned and gestures one hand between them and says, honey, I’m, uh, hearing mixed messages. I'll turn around or I'll keep driving or we could stop, if we see some place maybe, and ask for directions. You just need to tell me what you'd prefer.

Well you're driving,
she says.

It's like watching someone die by being staked to an ant hill. No, no actually it's worse, because everyone pretends like this isn't barbarous. Because no one leans down to a guy staked to an ant hill, with ants crawling up his nose and biting at his eyes, and says, honey, you're gonna make us late.

A lot of my friends are engaged, and a lot of them don't want children. They're all engaged just because that's the age we're at, in our 20s and getting out of college, and they don't want children, well I don't know why that is. Maybe it's a stage or a generational trend or maybe it’s just peculiar to my friends, educated and disgruntled children of the moral majority who haven't quite figured out how to separate God and their mothers. If you ask them, and they don't think it'll offend you, they'll say because they don't know anyone with children that they want to be like.

So they're comparing rings and dates and plans and grad school options or future work and oh, no, we're not planning on having any children.

And every time I hear that I think, shit, having kids is the part of a relationship that doesn’t look like highly perfected torture, and I start making plans to walk.