Growing up, I often heard my father refer to "the magic words." Maybe he was hoping to coax a please out of me. Though I tended to be a smart-ass and responded, "Open Sesame!" What my father meant, more often than not, were the two magic words that always opened doors for him (or at least prevented them from being slammed): yes, dear.
I heard him say it to my mother all the time. "And it made me crazy!" My mother recently told me.
"Crazy happy, right? I mean, that’s my wish come true."
"No, I hated it. It was your father’s way of checking out. He didn’t even need to talk about it, hear it, anything. He could just say, ‘Yes, dear, whatever you want,’ and then continue watching golf."
"Okay, but you got your way. I mean, you didn’t have to argue about things. You could do things the way you wanted. Make plans for the both of you, arrange whatever you wanted. What bliss."
But it wasn’t. "Getting her way" meant having an involved partner who was just as excited as she was. What I take for granted each time I wish Phil would just be easier is that at least he’s involved. At least he gives a shit. Maybe that’s what people are looking for, someone to care just as much as they do–even if it means not getting their way… [more after the jump]
A YEAR AGO: A Piece of Strange & Good Old Fashioned Animal Husbandry
2 YEARS AGO: Ruby Red
3 YEARS AGO: Love Sweet Love
4 YEARS AGO: Say Cheese
5 YEARS AGO: Role Playing
But to be fair, if you’re always getting your own way, you won’t mind the occassional objection and will look forward to opportunities that turn own way into our way. But when everything has to be "ours," it becomes a nightmare. I don’t think I’d mind compromise as much as I do if I was with someone less opinionated… about everything. Then I might want more "our" instead of "own." Hell, I can prove it:
I remember being engaged to the Wasband, who told me he’d come along to register, but only if it was important to me. "You’re the girl. Get whatever plates you like. I’ll go register when it involves golf clubs." Then I’d pout.
"No, they should be our dishes. I want you to want to go." I totally pulled a Phil.
I then complained to my father. "Shouldn’t Gabe want to go register? Is this something I should take personally?"
"Absolutely not, Stephanie. No guy wants to go spend the day shopping for silverware. He doesn’t want to compare the weight of this spoon to that one, and does it go with these plates, and what about that… what did you call it?"
"Yeah, right. No man wants to do that stuff. That’s for you ladies to enjoy. You ask your girlfriends, you go decorate and pick out placemats and napkins. All men need are a big TV screen, a comfortable place to sit, and a desk we don’t want you to clean or rearrange."
None of that advice is true about Phil. Except when it comes to trying to neaten his "piles." Holy office hell. But that’s an entry for another time. Here’s a slice of life, current time:
Tonight Phil and I were at the bar, and a gentleman across the way mentioned that "All men learn it sooner or later. Some go way too long. But sooner or later, every man gets to that place where he knows it’s just easier if he responds, ‘Yes, dear.’"
I turned to Phil. "Ya, see. Why can’t you attend that class?"
The bartender pipes up. "My father, I’ll never forget it, said to me, ‘Son, you can be right, or you can be happy. But you can’t have both, so take your pick.’"
"Oooh, another good one. Phil, honey, wanna borrow my pen?" He raised an eyebrow.
Nothing. Not even the faintest, "Yes, dear." Come to think of it, I don’t even think he cracked a smile. I knew there’d be no point in pushing things further. I can have conversations with him whether or not he’s actually there. They happen in my head.
Me: So, what’s wrong with just letting a woman get her way most of the time?
Me as Phil: Because with you it never stops. There’s always something else. It never ends.
Me: And you think by disagreeing on every little thing you’re slowing me down? That all the other things about which I want my way will disappear if you fight me every step of the way?
Me as Phil: It’s working right now. I’ve just saved myself from having to discuss our next vacation, the next couple we’re going to have over, the next menu idea you want to plan, the next…
Me: Why do we even bother talking then?
But none of this is said. Instead, Phil just shakes his head. And I know (of course I do) what he’s thinking. "I’m never going to be one of those men who says, ‘Yes, dear.’" And all I can do is roll my eyes and think, "Yes, dear."
Finally, I turn to him and say, "You need to get laid." At which point, he downs his drink, smiles, and asks for the check.