Monday, December 28, 2009
D, originally from the Czech Republic, moved here when he was 25. Naturally, English wasn’t his first language; I think it finished a distant fourth.
We were together for a couple of years -- one short, one long. Though he lived and worked in English, D thought, conceptualized, and dreamed in something else. We fought our battles on my one and only playing field, English. At worst, I could always win on a technicality.
To conclude a serious discussion, when we were either extremely frustrated or charmed with each other, I’d wrap things up with something really scathing or really sweet. D couldn’t do a change-up. His last pitch was always, “That’s the truth and I’m not kidding you.” Only it was more like, “I’m not keedeen you.”
If I felt like it, that fell right in my strike zone.
To be fair, had he insisted we play the game elsewhere, in French for example, my zingers would have been in the realm of “You giant goat of shit!” or “Dear, you be sweet mutton with me.” Yeah, and that’s my second-best language.
The idiosyncrasies that so delighted us early in a relationship were the very ones that came back to haunt us two years later. He grew tired of my easy-breezy ways, and I grew frustrated with his blatant, unashamed love of money, as well as the appalling accent. He ceased to be cute. Well, on balance, the sweet mutton side in us both had all but disappeared.
After much experience, experimentation, and observation, I think couples in long-term relationships have three things in common: Kindness, forgiveness, and patience. Also, when an argument starts to get ugly, giving way once in awhile. The self-control to bite one’s tongue, even though you’ve got a comeback that’s so good, oh so good. But you know what? If a couple goes the distance, a sincere and lovely distance, the first thing to leave is the last word.
I don't think I'll ever find that state of grace; certainly, I'll never leave a good phrase unsaid, at whatever cost. But I like to know such grace exists. That’s the truth and I’m not kidding you.