I don’t know if anyone can relate to this, but my starting point for just about anything is pure hatred. I’m a congenital contrarian, living to live in opposition of something. Sure, it’s pretty much a prison of crippling insecurity, but I like to reduce who you are to what you like. And I hate what you like, unless it’s what I like and if it’s not, then that’s the perfect reason for me to not get close to anyone ever.
Really that’s the old me. Or the tired me, or the crabby me, or the scorned me, or the bored me. But it describes my beloved MIKE very well also. Most of the time, It’s hilarious to watch it in someone else because it’s just like, “Look at that cute little Archie Bunker twisting himself all up over what someone else thinks about something that’s not important.” (This reminds me that I would like to destroy the Internet’s love affair with the word “vitriol” and bring the term “brickbats” back into rage-speech parlance. I appreciate the violence it implies.)
As you can imagine, two curmudgeons in one house, while often side-splitting, can result in hurt feelings (mine) and plenty of possibly feigned outrage (mine). Before I cite a perfect example, let me explain what I’m dealing with. Mike is from NYC. Brooklyn. Flatbush. The Center of the Universe. BORN, raised, tortured there. The only type of New Yorker that counts. He has lots of decades-standing “opinions” on music, culture, and groups of people based on his being an expert on all things.
The rest of the country (or at least my Midwest of the country) seriously doesn’t operate on the level New York does, that I will concede. Hey, we’re all just doing the best we can. Everybody has to reconcile with the cabbage patch the stork dropped them in.
Sometimes I’ll say something like, “You know you married a public school girl from the middle of America, right? That 99% of my culture came from babysitters, magazines, the record store and MTV?” I don’t have a hierarchy of true and false coolness. Yes I do, but large chunks of it don’t line up with Mike’s.
Here’s a great instance of me getting fully baited into the lion’s den (he is a Leo, which puts him surprisingly low on the zodialogical crazy scale Liz wrote on):
I have great love for Patti Smith. I love the music, I like her as a person, I admire how she has represented herself. I like her taste in men. I like her braids, and if she isn’t a role model for growing into the grays gracefully, there is none. She is in my top 3 live performances ever and I promise I’ve seen a zillion live shows.
My husband has a very vocal, unsavory opinion of her (and she’s in good company).
For my birthday, Mike gifted me a book that I took as a grand gesture of peace, "Just Kids" by Patti Smith. I shared my favorite parts enthusiastically. Mike seemed genuinely interested. I bawled like I was 14 again at the ending, again Mike was moved at my non-robotic emotions. I thought for SURE this was a lasting offering of acceptance. I mean, he doesn’t have to change his opinion, just stop parading it around so gleefully when I’m his only audience. Compromise, right? I’m (sort of) willing to tone down my skillful dressing-down of those who provoke ME.
So, it lasted until the next time Patti popped up on a jukebox and the mouth-muscle memory kicked in full force. Booo.
The whole thing is very silly. It reminded me when my baby brother was 2 and a half and I was 18. He loved Barney. Lovvvvvvvvvved. I was very outspoken about my feelings being the opposite. Until one day, he finally socked it to me: “I DON’T CARE, RACHEL. I love him. I don’t CARE what you think.”
And the wise words of a toddler still set me straight, even 20 years later (yeesh, am I the “20 years later” lunatic or what?). Like what you want, no matter what anyone else says. And don’t be an a-hole. MIKE.