I try very very hard to avoid arguing with anyone. In seven years, my partner and I have had less than five arguments, and they weren't dramatic, just misunderstandings. My preferred stance is mediator, the flexible one who 'doesn't mind'. I try to see things from other people's perspective a bit too much, (my mum brought me up to do this) it is equally a blessing and a curse. It's difficult to be loyal when you always see both sides of a story, and I can come across as not caring enough about friends and family when I don't rush to defend them.
Major arguments are scary, loud, painful and unforgettable, sometimes the damage is catastrophic. The minor disagreement or misunderstanding on the other hand, can fester away inside like a hidden banana.
This past couple of days, my mum and I have had two rare mini collisions.The first was at my parents' caravan on Sunday afternoon. I was swigging the dregs from a bottle of Coke The look on my mum's face said it all, she was disgusted. "Why are you always drinking from bottles, you should get a glass, like me?" I replied, all defensive; "It's my Coke, the water is mine too, I've cut my finger and the plaster keeps getting wet every time I wash up, and I'm running out of plasters so I'm trying to avoid washing up". These excuses were valid,I felt, and I rarely drink Coke anyway. She let that one go.
Today, on returning from my Zumba class, I was delighted to find the front door locked. 'I can put the washing on the line before mum gets back' I thought. Alas, mum and 2 year old were out the back garden. My mum was pegging the washing out all wrong. Pegging out the washing is a ritual for me, it's one of the few things I make a meal out of regarding household duties. The pegs have to be the same colour for each garment (on bad days I stick to 2 colours) and the clothes have to be a certain way, MY way.
I started to change the pegs first (tuts from mum) then, I changed the orientation of the socks and trousers. After a brief explanation of why she does things the way she does, mum stormed off, looking back to say "I'm never going to put your washing out again!". With that, she went home without saying goodbye to me or Sonny, who spent the next ten minutes looking for her in the bathroom, under the table, in the beds and finally the cupboards.
It was summer 1992, a boiling day, and I was staying with my aunty in Bristol. I was sunbathing in her back garden. The dividing fences on either side were very high, but you could hear all the goings on from next door. Her neighbours Lyn and John are real 'characters', and have the broadest Bristolian accents imaginable, adding an 'L' onto every open vowel. Lyn had gone to the shop, John was pottering in the garden. I presume John heard Lyn return, then he shouted "loverrr?" Five minutes later "loverrr, come out 'ere". Lyn did as she was told, and said:
"what are you shouting for, what do you want?"
John replies quickly "where's they scratch cards Lyn?"
"I scratched 'em John, we ain't won, they're in the bin"
"I done 'em on the way back, we ain't won sod all John"
"I can't believe it Lyn, I said bring them back and we'll scratch them TOG-E-THER"
"you've spoilt my afternoon now Lyn. It's a beautiful day, I was having a nice time in the garden, I 'telt' you to go to the shop, get some scratch cards and we'll scratch them together, I was looking forward to it"
"we never won anyway so who cares?"
"I care, I was really looking forward to scratching them TOGETHER, you don't understand, I'm really pissed off now Lyn, you've spoilt my day"
I was treated to another 40 minutes of this, calling my cousins to join me for a snigger, it was great. Who needs TV or the radio eh?
John eventually stormed off to the pub, Lyn muttered "miserable fucker".
I like Lyn and John, so does my aunty. They make her dinner once a week and always end up bickering over something. That's true love.