I am what my Dad’s friend, Ed, calls a “creeper”. Apparently, this is a quality dreaded by persons with whom the offender cohabitates. You see, evidently there is an invisible line of demarcation on a bathroom counter. One ought not to cross said line for any reason. “Creeper” is the official term used for repeat offenders of this “law”.
Last week, Tom and I were in a small territorial war it seems. I would place my oversized bottle of Scope over the “Mason-Dixon” line, and then when I was not around he would place it back on my side of the counter. This went on for several days until he placed my Sam’s Club sized bottle of mouthwash as far as he could place it away from his side, all the way in the far left corner of my sink.
Arriving home Friday night, he noticed that the offending antiseptic was nowhere to be seen. VICTORY was his! I had seen the light and put the bottle away under my sink as he had been hoping I would! Sheepishly, as he changed for our dinner out with friends, he mentioned to me about our little passive-aggressive counter top battle and how happy he was that I had seen the light.
This story came to my mind after my Election Day experience on Tuesday. You see, I went to my polling place at the Carmel Fire Station on 131st St. and I encountered a fairly lengthy line of folks snaking around the fire truck waiting their turn to vote in the mid-terms. That gave me time to make a friend. Just in front of me our good and gracious God placed a friendly woman with whom I quickly struck up a conversation. She told me she was a Jewish woman from Iran and that she had moved to the US when she was 14. She marveled at all the things that make America “the greatest country on earth” (her words) not the least of which is the remarkably civil way we treat others who are on the other side of the aisle from us—who have a different perspective. I’m pretty sure I crinkled my nose about that last part. Does this gal not own a TV? She further explained that she knew to me that must sound crazy as we have lost our way a bit with all the over the top yelling at each other and mean TV ads. “But at the end of the day, if the current leader loses the election, he will call to congratulate the winner. Then, he will give him the keys to his office peacefully and without incident. In my old country, if you lose the election, they kill you.” Yikes. How do I take back my crinkled up nose?
She went on to explain that she misses the civil discourse she used to see here a bit more regularly. We discussed the concept of “agreeing to disagree”. She said the “your side vs. my side” stuff was tiring and that we definitely should put our phones down and quit making comments on Facebook and Twitter that we wouldn’t dream of saying in person. She expressed her deep desire that we remember what it is to speak face- to- face about what is bothering us. “It just works better,” she added “but democracy is amazing and I could never dream of skipping the opportunity to vote!” AMEN.
This leads me back to our territorial battle over the bathroom counter at the Thieme house. Here’s the rub. I had NO IDEA what Tom was talking about when he thought I had seen the light and corrected the error of my “creeper” ways. In fact, when I realized what had been going on under my nose, I just looked up at him with very genuine confusion, followed quickly by a great big belly laugh. Then, he shook his head and started laughing too. I mean, good grief! It’s been 24 years of marriage. Despite the genius of his patient and repeated witness on this concept, one would think by now my remarkably intelligent husband would grasp the fact that I simply do not speak passive- aggressive? Nevertheless, my face, as it often does, told him the full story. I just had genuinely missed the entire week of counter wars. I had no clue he was bugged by the Scope and zero idea there was a “thing” happening. His frustration was completely lost on me. I’m just authentically not that into worrying about where stuff is on the counter. This explains why the “house” part of “housewife” gets me every time. It was at that moment he saw it too and we both began to look at each other and really laugh.
At the end of the day, Tom and I did one thing right. We realized we are living in the same house and we were able to laugh about how differently we think and navigate life. Discussing our disagreements rationally and with an open mind is virtually always more effective than engaging in civil war? I am never going to care about where the Scope is stored. Tom is never going to be happy living with a creeper. Chances are good we can negotiate a solution here that is good for us both.
Compromise, agreeing to disagree, laughing with each other despite differences— these are all simple concepts worth revisiting.
No tennis shoes on the bed in exchange for the Scope under the sink…..what do you say, hon?
No matter who you were for this election season, I hope you voted!
God Bless America.