It was a tremendous victory! A landslide of triumph! A noteworthy landmark in the marriage of the Harji!

The Setting: The Harjes Haus kitchen table. Candles. Wine. A homemade dinner. No special occasion, I am just that kind of wife.

The Mood: Light, good-humored, healing companionship after a long day out in the big bad world . . . until . . .

The Catch: Herb's good-humor innocently and unintentionally transformed into a shiny, newly sharpened arrow pointed directly at the white underbelly of Cara's insecurities and sensitivities.

The Shift in Conversation:
C - "Okay, I have to tell you - when you say that, it makes me feel XYZ!"
H - "But that is not what I meant."
C - "But that is how I felt."
H - "But that is not what I meant."
C - (crying) "But that is what I felt."

You get the idea.

The Victorious Turn of Events: Some 15 minutes later we sat knee to knee on the living room rug, playfully launching "your mamma jokes" across our chosen flat surface for our favorite card game. Spit. I love Spit. I don't know if that is the official name of the game, but it is what Amy and I affectionately called it while we were growing up. Basically, a two-person free for all version of solitaire. But much faster. Love it.

C - "Hey, we rock!"
H - "Why?"
C - "That fight lasted less than 15 minutes. I think that is a record for us."
H - "Of course it only last 15 minutes, there was nothing to fight about."
C - (sexy smile inserted here to distract from any facial distortions which might imply that I am using will power and grace to ignore sublte suggestion that I had perhaps become upset without reason or purpose)
"Come on, you and I both know that we are capable of turning that 15 minutes into three hours!"

It is true. When you mix two head-strong, articulate, expressive, somewhat prideful (him a tad more than me), very sensitive (me a tad more than him), and creative people, you have Frankenstiened yourself a MacGyver in the art of arguing. Give MacGyver a shoe string, a paper clip, and a package of Big League chewing gum and he will give you a pair of roller skates with a rocket pack on the back. Give Herb and I a dirty look, a hypocritical statement, and low-blood sugar and you have yourself a WWII reenactment on your living room floor.

But not this time. And I would like to give my childhood pal, Spit, some of the credit. Sure, Herb brought some "let me ask her what she means instead of telling her what she means" to the table. Of course, I was able to muster some, "come on, give the guy a break because he loves you and is not being a jerk on purpose". But then there was Spit. Unassuming and undemanding. Quietly folded in his box. All 52 parts folded neatly, sitting quietly in the corner. Without judgment, he beckoned us from his place on the kitchen counter, "Hey, you wanna have some fun? Fun is . . . well, more fun than fighting."

I like having a game that we share. In my constant monitoring of other marriages for ways to beat the daunting divorce statistics, I stole this one from the children's pastor at our church. The church web site states that "Jared and his wife enjoy long walks on the beach, parasailing, and playing Scrabble together". Okay, I have no idea if they enjoy long walks on the beach or parasailing, but I remember that they love playing Scrabble together. She always beats him, but he loves it. It is their thing. So during our engagement, I decided, "We need a thing." Of course, you can't force your "thing". Not that I haven't tried.

But it turns out I hate playing Scrabble with Herb. Here's why . . .

a) He is smarter than me. Well, perhaps not smarter, but he has a longer attention span and therefore gives more time and attention to his letter tiles, whereas I am content to throw out "h - a - t . . . HAT! Eight points, sucker!" before returning to the latest edition of Cooking Light while he composes words like "quail" and "petulant". I just don't care.

b) Scrabble is no fun with two people. You have to be quiet while it is the other person's turn so they can think of a combination of letters that will inevitably cause you to eat crow. So what if you know the top 100 Scrabble words that start with "xq"?

But Spit. Ahh, Spit. There is plenty of room for smack talking, eye rolling, name calling, card throwing, and bad-assing. We found our thing on accident during the honeymoon. It turns out that 10 days in a secluded Italian village will drive you crazy in a hurry if you don't have one or two choices outside of playing "You're schmoopie . . . NOOOO, YOU'RE schmoopie", staring into each others eyes, bubble baths, and sex. It is true. You need something to make you laugh. For us, it was Spit. And it quickly became "our thing".


Blogger HintofDisaster said...

Scrabble was our thing for a long time, and now it sits dormant in the closet. Actually, it is currently sitting dormant on the basement floor because I am trying to put in a closet organizer, but it sits dormant nonetheless. I think Melanie and I enjoyed the long periods of quiet thought, and I know we both enjoyed hitting each other with a three-letter, 52-point word. We even brought Scrabble with us on our vacation to Denver, and sat in our Durango bed & breakfast attempting to use all 7 tiles in a single turn.

Now, we seem to mostly enjoy movies as our thing, which is as good a thing as you can get, if you ask me. We've seen some good ones recently, too, which helps.

Anyway, I wish I could understand where you are coming from on the whole fighting thing, because I always allow Melanie to express herself without trying to fix everything and she certainly never takes anything I say the wrong way. It sure is great being perfect together. Maybe that's our thing.

3:21 PM, March 02, 2006  

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