Monday, July 25, 2005

It Takes Two.

Consort and I had settled in to watch “Rescue Me”, a new favorite show in our house and one of the few times both of us end up staring at the TV at the same time. As the teaser ended, and the theme song blasted off, Consort observed “This sounds like Duran Duran”.

I stared at him in disbelief.

“It does not,” I said, jumping knee-deep into moral certainty.

“Yes, it does,” he insisted, “if Duran Duran was making music now.”

“They are. I mean, I haven’t heard it, and clearly neither have you. But they are.”

“All right,” he allowed. “It sounds like what Duran Duran was doing in the eighties, only with new equipment.”

“But the singer sounds totally different.”

“I don’t think so.”

“He sounds nothing like Simon LeBon.”

Please note that by this time, the theme song was over and we were into commercials, and yet we continued. Consort held his ground.

“Okay, the lead singer sounds a little different. But only a little, like his voice aged. But they still sound like Duran Duran.”

“So you’re saying that if Duran Duran had a different singer and different instruments, they would sound like this.”

“Right.”

“Wrong.”

Mercifully, the show started, and we were captivated by Vicodin-addicted firefighters making extremely poor dating choices, but in that three-minute commercial break, we had participated in what I can only imagine is the second-oldest cohabitation ritual: the Pointless Spousal Discussion. I imagine our ancestors, plodding across endless sheets of ice, the male saying to the female “I have asked you a thousand times to tan the hides I wear just a little longer. You have no idea how many places I’m chafing.” And she answering, “And as I keep telling you, if you bring home more yak urine, I’ll tan the hides until the wooly mammoths come home”.

The requirements of a Pointless Spousal Discussion are simple:

1) It cannot be anything of consequence, nor can it be completely without weight. No one should ever contemplate divorce over a PSD, but each participant must have enough invested in order to keep it lively. This also means that there cannot be a happy medium where you can both be right. It either sounds like Duran Duran, or it does not.

2) Topics must be, ultimately, unanswerable. If you each are sure you know the capital of Lichtenstein, you are one quick trip to the Britannica away from solving it, and where’s the fun in that? Good PSD topics are things like
a) Your nephew did get drunk at our wedding, that wasn’t food poisoning making him puke in the hedge;
b) I was wearing my blue sweater when we met. Yes, I was. Yes, I was. I have never owned a purple camisole, I have no idea who you might be thinking of;
c) That guy at the coffee house always wears the same shirt.

Note: Words like “Always” and “Never” make for frisky conversations.

3) It’s nice if the conversation is hinged on some outer event (“Rescue Me”, getting on a particular freeway entrance, 8:35 on a Friday night), so that you can leap in without having to do any dreary ramp-up. Part of the fun comes from just seeing a jar of Gulden’s mustard, looking at your spouse and having them say “Oh, don’t start”.

The PSD can, sadly, lead to bickering. How bickering is different from the Pointless Spousal Discussion is range and rage. If the sight of iceberg lettuce being put onto a sandwich results in a four-minute conversation between spouses (one likes it and swears it has a flavor and is healthy, the other thinks it tastes like wet packing material and is utterly useless) which then leads painlessly into a conversation about picking up eyeglasses from the optometrist, that’s a PSD. The same head of lettuce in the hands of a bickering couple can devolve into an three-hour conversation about how one person perversely insists upon eating the inedible and this has something to do with buying a Home Depot gift certificate as an anniversary present.

A single person might ask, why do this at all? What’s the Darwinian imperative?

I really have no idea. A psychiatrist might say it’s about keeping a healthy sense of individuality: you don’t become the person who has to quiz your partner in order to remember basic facts about yourself (“Do I like salmon?”). Maybe the mental-health professional would tell me it’s a normal way of working off aggression without letting it fester into something truly life-threatening (“No, I don’t know where your car keys are, but I certainly know where the carving knife is!”). Or maybe it’s some weird way of establishing yet another tie to one another; I promise to love your forever, but I don’t want you to ever forget that I know you put the toilet roll in the wrong way.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Rebecca said...

Our Sunday evening PSD was whether Kool-aid or home-made lemonade had more nutritional value. Truth be told we both thought probably lemonade, but debated for a quite long time what that value might be.

10:06 AM  
Blogger BrunhildeCrow said...

I think I am going to read this at my sister's wedding. It beautifully encapsulates the wonder that is a healthy marriage.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

Rebecca-good use of "There is no issue of agreement where we cannot find some point of contention"

Brunhilde-Really? Us, healthy?

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Lady Chardonnay said...

I was all set to tell you about the pointless argument I just had with my best friend about the exact rules of Taboo (meaning: the larger rules, not just what it says on the rule sheet, which clearly had never met a Rules Girl such as I), and then I see that said BF, one Brunehilde Crow, has already responded to this very topic! (except, not mentioning me at all, nor the fact that I was the one who turned her on to your marvelous and witty blog -- but still, what are the odds?!)

If you are at all familiar with Taboo, I would love your ruling on this issue. Ah, just the thought of Ms. Crow's face when I say, "By the way, Quinn Cumming agrees with me..." (and if by chance you don't, we'll never speak of it again)

7:25 PM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

LC, never let it be said that I came between friends...oh, who am I kidding, I've done it frequently. I don't know the game well enough to speak of it intelligently, but that rarely stops me. The way I play games is:
1. Reach point in game where rule goes against me,
2. Attempt to find loophole in rule,
3. Pout for one round,
4. Offer to make drinks and never come back.

So, while I have an opinion on the whole Taboo thing, I cannot imagine any sane person would want it, except as a cautionary tale.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have heard all of my BS stories, I have heard all of your BS stories, and silence makes the nights soooooo long.

THAT is the reason for these discussions.

(BTW, it actually sounds more like The Fixx only different)

7:53 AM  

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