I have a big mouth. All those times I’ve completed the Myers-Briggs test, something hasn’t added up right. It always pegs me as an introvert. I certainly don’t see myself as an introvert, just moody. Sometimes I’m that person at the party who just wants to observe, who’s happy not speaking to people. I want to hear the stories of others, to listen as a couple tells their "how we met" meet cute. To see if they have it down to a dance, then guess how long they’ve been together based on the way they tell it. And yet…
There I am at the bookstore, standing on line–I know the correct way to say it is "standing in line," but as a New Yorker this just feels so very wrong–debating whether or not to buy a certain cookbook, when I spot a red hardcover book in the hands of the woman in front of me.
"I hope it comes with a good divorce lawyer," I tell her, pointing to the book (the book I’ve written about on this blog before).
"Oh, gosh, really? I mean, I’m gettin’ it ’cause I heard it was real good."
"You’re already married, though, right?" I ask, checking once more to make sure it was a wedding band, not just a flash of engagement ring.
"Goodness, yes. I would not be getting this other fertility book if I were living in sin… You know, our closest friends are getting ‘The Big D,’" she says adding air apostrophes. I realize in that moment that I should never, ever, again make air apostrophes, no matter how appropriate. People who make them think they’re being clever. And I know I do this. I must stop.
"Boy howdy, we’re just torn up about it." She made soft tsk tsk tsk sounds as she shook her head, then continued…
"The husband sent me here to do what I could to make things right… ‘Just get something, fast,’ he said. Not that we’re havin’ problems, mind you, but, he’s all shaken up. We were all married at the same time, and now… well, it’s just terrible. And that poor woman. Now she’ll be branded as a divorcee." Nah-ah. "I also heard this here fertility book is fabulous, not that we want to make babies, if you know what I mean." What? It’s clear by the look on my face that I’m thoroughly lost. "You know," she says, leaning in, "the method."
"So you’re buying a fertility book to try to not make a baby, then?"
"You didn’t hear it from me," she says with a coy smile. "Those egg white tests you read about on the internets just aren’t reliable." No, but birth control is. I’d like to say at this point in the conversation, I regretted initiating a conversation with the woman. But I can’t say that. This was truly the highlight of my day. I want to treat her as if she’s a child on the show, "Kids Say The Darn’est Things." I want to keep feeding her ice cream and alcohol until she confesses her darkest secrets.
"So, I know I don’t know you from Eve," she says, "But do you really think this All About Us book is that bad?"
"Let me put it this way," I say, "I’m sure people buy the book with good intentions. You want to learn new things about each other. But there are certain things you really shouldn’t know about anyone." Like the fact that a grown woman refers to her husband as "The Husband." "As far as I’m concerned," I tell her, "questions like ‘If you were to die, which of your friends would you want your partner to end up with?’ can’t lead to anything good. Quite frankly, them’s fightin’ words where I come from."
"All the same," she says after a long silence. And I think she’s going to follow it up with some explanation, her opinion, something. Instead, she bats her eyes and says, "You must not be from the South."
I replayed the conversation in my own head on the drive home, trying to understand what she could’ve meant. That it would take far worse information to get her to fight with the husband? That it would be much easier for her because she’d simply forbid the husband from ever ending up with anyone in the event that she die one day? That questions can’t do you in, but not asking can? Or maybe it was just her polite way of saying, "I’m through talking about this." What I do know is that it’s going to be my new go-to move ever time I think Phil’s instigating a fight.
"Oh, darlin’ all the same… you must not be from the South."