It is said that in romantic relationships, you should allow yourself to be vulnerable with one another. Open your heart. Establish trust and maintain honesty.
Sure thing. Put that in a greeting card and sign it with love. And then snap out of it. Here is the truth about partnerships: never admit your weaknesses, or your partner will have license to dangle them over your head ‘til death do you part.
When we first fall in love with someone, we find their little quirks so adorable. Endearing. But then, the years fly by, the kids grow up, and a global pandemic hits and one day, you find yourself in the kitchen plotting to whack your partner’s backside quick and hard with a twirled up tea towel because you want to inflict a little pain so they will stop making that irritating noise for the millionth time.
This is how we got to this point. The Carpenter was washing dishes. I was drying and putting them away. We do this together every day. Some of our best conversations happen here, so do the comfortable silences. On this occasion, we were both quietly reflecting on a myriad of things. He must have been thinking of his work day because that tiny vein of stress on the right side of his forehead bulged as he clenched his jaw.
Also, he was painstakingly scrubbing an already immaculately clean coffee mug, fixated like Lady Macbeth with spot remover. He kept twirling the mug over and over in his soapy hands with the scrub-sponge scraping the inside. Squeak, squish, squeak, squish; a sound that now registers at the tipping point of my nerve tolerance for annoying sounds made by another human. It’s right up there with snoring, chewing food and draining one’s sinus cavity one nostril at a time. I’ve managed to keep this particular noise irritant a secret from the Carpenter for a long time. On this day, though, it sent shivers up my spine. I wanted to pounce on him and confiscate the scrubbing sponge, then whap him with the tea towel.
My face said what I would not. Seems I had developed an involuntary eye twitch with every squeak-squish sound. He took notice and inquired if I was okay. I responded with a rigid smile of passive reassurance. Show no weakness, I told myself. Don’t flinch. Ah, but my eyes kept blinking like a malfunctioning antique doll.
“Does this sound bother you?” he asked, squeaking and squishing the sponge in the mug. Blink. Blink. Blink. My hands covered my ears. “How about now?” he asked, adding an insulting little shake of his hips to every beat of the squeak-squish rhythm. Freak.
I dangled the tea towel, twirled it rapidly, ready to crack the Carpenter’s skinny backside. He anticipated the move, bending forward over the sink, sticking his denim-clad posterior out, challenging me to make it a good one. The towel heard him and unraveled. No whaps. No cracks. Just defeat. I gave up.
You know another irritating sound? Me, singing the same song repeatedly, off-key and with great enthusiasm. I know a lot of songs.
Now every night, we wash dishes together either with good conversation, comfortable silence or hysterics. And the dishes? Spotless.