In any marriage there are hitches and glitches that can cause frustration and migraines for both parties. We have been married for 20 years now, and an ongoing issue for us springs from the basic premise that men are sensitive to light and women are sensitive to sound. On certain days, this conflict would be great fodder for the popular “Can this marriage be saved?” column in a national magazine. I can just see the team of grim-faced experts now, scratching their bald pates and murmuring “tsk, tsk,” as they ponder the complexity of our problem.
There would be no need for a team of experts, you see, if I could just control the remote. We all know, however, that men are born with a remote embedded in the right palm, which can only be removed surgically. This leaves a woman with no access to the “volume down” button. It’s ridiculous.
My crowd of guys operates on the principle that louder is better. This means that movies are loud, TV shows are loud, and commercials are even louder. They love action movies, so I am forced to endure car chases, explosions, and gunshots at high decibel levels. When I suggested a night of Hillary Duff movies or a tender romance that would leave us all crying softly on the couch, they booed. They hissed. They turned up the volume. Meanwhile, I put on the earmuffs and went back to my book.
This whole volume dispute carries over into date nights. As a certain person thinks that music must also be loud, it makes intimate conversation very difficult. I will say something like, “Let’s talk about us.”
“What?” he bellows over the din.
“Let’s talk about us,” I bellow back.
“Let’s!” he hollers enthusiastically.
By the time we get to Mishawaka, I am completely hoarse, reduced to using sign language and strange facial expressions to communicate with the merchants.
On the other side of things, he (being a male) is definitely more sensitive to light. If it were up to him, we would all be forced to grope around in the predawn darkness every morning, waiting for the sun.
Naturally, there are times when light bothers me, too. Take, for instance, the night I was rudely awakened at 1 a.m. by a bright light and a raving lunatic standing at the foot of the bed wildly swinging what at first appeared to be an ax. When I was able to focus, I saw that it was actually my husband in his PJs, whacking and flailing in every direction with a broom.
Frantic whacker, panting: “Bats!”
Me: “Darn tootin’!”
Frantic whacker: “No! There’s a bat in here.” It was here that he lost me, as I was too busy stapling the covers over my head to catch the rest of his story. Through the blankets I could hear muffled thuds and grunts.
“Where is it now?” I squealed.
“He’s under the bed. I think he’s stunned.”
“I’m in the bed and I am stunned!” I screeched.
When the dust settled and the flying rodent had gone to the big cave in the sky, I carefully extricated myself from my stapled cocoon. There to greet me was Indiana Jones with his prize proudly displayed on a dustpan right by my pillow. Let’s just say that the shape of the hole I left in the upstairs window when I exited was easily recognizable.
“That looks like Mama,” one of the boys said the next morning, pointing. His father just nodded grimly.
As far as the noise level goes, the boys are diligent contributors. They holler and wrestle. They thunder up and down the steps. “Can’t you wear your Indian feet?” I beg as they dash past. As if that weren’t enough bedlam, they have friends who chip in. This morning it was Jordan’s friend, Ricky, sitting in our drive at 5:30, honking the horn and revving the engine. “I could cheerfully strangle that kid,” I muttered through gritted teeth. Can’t you imagine that scene?
Waky Detective: “Ma’am, you’re under arrest.”
Me: “But it was such a cheerful strangling! Doesn’t that count for anything nowadays?”
There are days that a remote desert island is very tempting. There are days I look at brochures and dream. I really should go. It’s just that – I’m afraid the silence would be deafening.