While I don't normally post such styles of writing, these are among my favorite types of pieces to write. I'm kind of like a silent observer. I'll quietly watch an everyday event, find the human element in it, then suddenly the words are running through my brain at full-speed, begging to be put down on paper. Several weekends ago, I was sitting on my car out front, basking in the sunshine, watching the going's-on of my neighbors. There was the little 5 year old down the street who was ripping it up in her big wheel. The college-aged boys carrying a cooler to their friends waiting car, hootin' and hollerin' in the way that boys this age do best. And then there was the husband and wife a couple of houses away engaged in that age old dialogue of "He Said She Said". A fight. Several moments of bickering, all in a language foreign to me: Chinese. And yet despite this, I could relate. Even though I didn't know what they were arguing about, some things are universal, among them couples bickering moments. I smiled as I imagined the words being used by each of them. Below is what I put down on paper. Enjoy.
Some things are universal.
The sun on your face on a cold winter day.
The sweet taste of watermelon in the blazing summer sun.
And, couples bickering.
No matter the language, no matter the ethnicity or the age, when couples bicker, it always looks, sounds and feels the same.
This afternoon, I witnessed some neighbors, a husband and a wife, engage in this age-old ritual. They're Chinese and speak both English and their native tongue. Today, they opted for Chinese.
Given that I don't speak their language (today, I wish I did!), I could only guess as to what they were fighting about. Whatever it was, the wife was obviously not happy with what her husband was doing with the contents in the trunk of their car. In the classic "male vs. female", "girl vs. boy" style of communication, here is my interpretation of what was said.
Wife: "What are you doing?"
Husband (mumbling): "Huh? Oh, just moving this around."
Silence follows. Then:
Wife: "You're doing it wrong."
Husband, throwing her a quick glance of 'huh?': "No I'm not."
Wife: "You are too. I told you not to move that to that spot."
Husband, still showing that look of confusion: "No you didn't."
Wife: "Yes I did. I most certainly did!"
Husband: "You did not!"
Wife: "Did too! You NEVER listen to me!"
Silence. Husband goes about his business.
Wife: "See?? You're still doing it! Watch it! Be careful! Hey, don't do THAT!!"
Husband remains silent, still goin' about his biz.
It's important to make note of something here. Husband has been moving this whole time, engaged in his activity. The wife, on the other hand, has remained in one position, the only body part moving being her mouth. Also worth noting is that for every word spoken by the husband, at least 5 words are spoken by the wife.
On we go.
Wife: "Oh good lord, do you even KNOW what you're doing??" She finally makes a move. "Here, let me do that..."
Husband pulls back, grabs whatever object it is they're arguing over and holds it up in the air like an actor holding up an Oscar: "Look DEAR, you need to just back off and leave me alone, ok? If you don't..."
Wife, interrupting: "Oh, knock it off, honey."
Husband interjects: "I'm not finished talking!"
Wife stands back: "Ok then, if I don't leave you alone, you'll what." This time her arms move into a folded position across her chest.
Husband looks at his wife, shakes the object a couple of times, likely for effect and says nothing. Now, I couldn't see this, but I swear the wife likely rolled her eyes. She then walked away, into the house, shaking her head. Husband then goes back to his business.
And on and on goes the dance of the sexes, the occasional drama of our interactions. Whether we're babbling out our control issues in English, Spanish or Chinese, inside we're all the same; a group of adults with 5-year-old mindsets during times of conflict, trying to figure out and survive the complexities of our connection.