Friday, February 23, 2007

It takes two.

(For those people who come here looking for a little happy, and found themselves weeping at their desks earlier this week, I am truly sorry. While I procrastinate about the THREE different blogs I am writing concurrently, I am putting up a re-run.)

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 Google 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?

(Single people say things like that all the time)

The answer is, 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 abuse paper shredders.

8 Comments:

Anonymous MTnester said...

OMG, Quinn, you've been listening to DH and me!

There's a variant PSD, too: when your spouse mis-hears and accuses you of mis-speaking. As in:

DH: Why did you say, "XYZ [some inanity]"?

Me: I didn't say, "XYZ."

DH: Oh, yes, you did. I heard you.

Me: Why would I say "XYZ" if I don't THINK "XYZ"?

DH: But that's what you said!

And around and around again. Like third-graders! :-(

Sue

1:16 PM  
Blogger Brockeim said...

I came randomly across your blog, and find it fun - I love your sense of whimsy. I'm not a 30-something housewife (or a housepartner or 30-something), but there's something comprehensively connecting in there.

The capital(s) of Lichtenstein? RL - Roy Lichtenstein.

Pointless Spousal Discussion is tragic! Is there a pill for that?

Brockeimia: The Absurd World of Brockeim
where the benign becomes fantastic... where the fantastic becomes plausible

1:55 PM  
Blogger Gail S said...

Hey Quinn!
This has nothing to do with today's post, but I've been slowly making my way through your archives (and enjoying it a great deal). You had a post in Nov'05 about your dread when filling up your car. In case no one has told you this since that post, I have to share.

A couple of years ago, my brand-new teenage driver told me how to figure out what side your gas tank is on without getting out to look. Next to your gas gauge is a picture of a gas tank. And next to that is an arrow....pointing to the side of the car where the tank is. So simple and yet I had been driving for over twenty years and never known it! I was embarrassed and just had to act like I was forgetful.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Hold on there, missy ! You write two other blogs ? Fess up - I'd like to read those as well. Love your writing !

Lisa

8:33 PM  
Blogger Alyssa said...

I love this post because I think we can all identify with it!

7:57 AM  
Blogger Karen of TX said...

What lisa said. What other two blogs? Would love to know.

And thank you for giving a name to our PSD of why I can't tell one rock band from another. My 15 yo son thinks we're fighting and I know we're not, and now I have proof.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

PSD.

Thank you for giving this disease we've been suffering from for 28 years a name.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Denita said...

Not that it is any consequence but The main title theme song for Rescue Me is "C'mon, C'mon" by the band Von Bondies - not Duran Duran and well I have no idea whether they think they sound like what Duran Duran would sound like today or not...with or without new instruments and older voices...

6:33 AM  

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