One of my earliest memories of riding in the backseat of a car entails my parents arguing. I can’t remember what it was, but I’m sure it wasn’t anything serious. Whether you call it a disagreement, fight, or lovers’ quarrel, I knew that I didn’t want to have that when I was an adult.
Oh, wonderful, innocent, naïve childhood.
My brother and sister and I remember one particularly heated car fight between my parents. My father was so angry that he slapped the first thing he could find. That thing happened to be the windshield wipers.
Just picture this scene unfolding for a second. Two adults fighting in the front, three kids in the backseat bored to tears (no portable DVD players in the early 90s), when suddenly the windshield wipers angrily start scraping the windshield…all while the sun is beating down and there’s not a cloud in the sky. Who could blame us for laughing hysterically?
I don’t know about you, but when we got married, I “knew” B and I were “above” those car fights. Only old people fought in cars, right?
Little did I know that every car ride had the potential of becoming World War III. Some of the worst quarrels we’ve had in our five years of marriage have been in car rides. Stuck in traffic? Might as well bring up shit you’ve been meaning to nag your partner about. What? That didn’t sit well with them? Well, too bad, because the traffic jam you’re in isn’t going anywhere and you can’t exactly walk away while on an interstate highway. (I’m sure you can, but I don’t recommend it).
It’s like the universe’s way of making you resolve your problems in a metal death trap. (Marriage counselors, I’m trademarking this tactic).
One of the very first fights B and I had was on New Years’ Eve. We had only been dating for 2.5 months when our friends rented a party bus in Baltimore. My bladder had magically shrunk, and while I was doing the pee-pee dance for a solid 20 minutes, apparently our bus rental time was up, and B pulled me away from the bathroom line just as I was the next person to walk into that bathroom. To say that I was pretty hydrated and quite the feisty bombshell is a vast understatement. I didn’t talk to him the entire 25-minute drive from downtown to our cars. Not only out of anger, but because it took all of my concentration to not break the seal. At some point, during his attempts to reason with me, I also managed to angrily take off and throw the Tiffany & Co. ring he gave me a few days before during Christmas into his face.
Not my finest moment, for sure.
When our driver finally dropped us off, I stomped into our friends’ house and used the bathroom. I was still so angry with him that I told him he was not going to drive me home because I was walking home. Yes, walking home. All 25 freaking miles on I-95. To validate my independence, I proceeded to stomp away…into a dead end. The car ride (him driving my pathetic arse home in the complete opposite direction of his apartment) was dismal. Still, he managed to drive back to my house in the morning for a very (awkward) drive to Long Island with my entire family, who were none the wiser about what had transpired only 6 hours before.
In that moment, it should have been obvious to me that 1) any 23-year-old young man that puts up with that amount of craziness two months into a relationship makes him a keeper and 2) I should get used to lots of car fights. Thankfully, I’ve wised up since then (and alternate drinks with water while out), however, the car remains the perfect storm for fights.
I’m still waiting for the day when car manufacturers create the panic button for every passenger seat. But until then, we will be resolving our spats like normal couples, windshield wipers going full-speed on sunny days and all.