I check the mail most every day. On the days that I do not check the mail, you do not check the mail, either. You claim to forget to check the mail, because I always do it. Which makes me feel enormous pressure to check the mail, like if I don't check it, it won't get checked.
The cat kept coming to the door, mewling piteously. At night it cried and scratched frantically at the doorjamb, leaving marks we'd see in the morning. I felt sorry for the cat, but in a detached way, which is how I regarded most animals. I didn't want to leave food for it, which I thought would encourage it to keep coming to the door and making a racket. I also did not want it to starve. Each day I spent a little bit of time trying to figure out the best thing to do, but I never came up with a solution. I figured that the cat would give up on us eventually and try its luck at another door, and the only thing we could do in the meantime was be patient. You said that the best thing to do would be to take in the cat and keep it. This seemed extreme to me, and for over two weeks, we argued about it. I thought that the cat was being manipulative, and that you were giving in to its demands. What if other cats found out? I said that we should not negotiate with terrorists. You would shake your head and give me a look that I felt was very condescending.
The Cat Box
Eventually, I conceded. I said, we can have a cat. I started to like the idea of having something that would keep me company during the day, silently and furrily, but that would also leave me alone. But, I said, I won't clean the litter box. You agreed to be the one who kept the litter box clean. Some days you forget, or claim to be too tired, and while you are at work, I am smelling the cat box, cross. At you and at the cat, who really is an incredibly smug cat. Still, I feel it is better to be cross than to clean the cat box. You say that is childish, and I say, very calmly, I am only honoring our agreement.
You are constantly doing many things connected to and outside of your work. I feel I only do a couple of things, and some days, I don't even do them well. You enjoy having multiple things on which to expend your energy, and on most days I enjoy having one thing, or at the most, two. This difference between us has ramifications: in the evening I say, remember that thing I was telling you about? And you frown and look puzzled, and say you don't remember. Or, you say you remember, but when I continue talking, it becomes clear that you don't remember. Either you admit this or you don't. When you admit it, I accuse you of neglect. When you don't, I accuse you of lying. In both cases, I feel certain that your memory is overtaxed by people and items inferior to me.
I Don't Like Anyone
You say that I don't like anyone you work with. This is not completely true. You say you do not like talking about your work, because you know I am making secret judgments. I complain that you don't talk to me about your day, about what is happening at work. I deny making secret judgments, even when I do make them.
I Analyze You to Death
You say that I analyze you to death. I tell you that I can't stand that expression. It's so imprecise.
Figures of Speech
I criticize many figures of speech and consciously avoid cliches. You use certain idioms and cliches without reservation, and while I respectfully listen to the point you are making, afterward I generally remark on my distaste for the idiom you employed. When I use an imprecise figure of speech, I perform a cogent argument about why imprecision is necessary for the scenario at hand.
You say I am too hard on people. I say you are too soft on people. But on occasion I become tearful, deeming something you have said too cruel. You say, but you have been much, much crueler. And I say, but not in a case like this.
Dates and Times and Places
On the whole, you are better than me at remembering when things happened, and where. But you confuse details about the things themselves, and how they happened. Between us, we can paint an accurate picture of a past event, but our memories work in different directions: you say, it was April 2003, because you were living on Fountain Street, and the Arts Stroll had just happened; and I say, but it couldn't have been, because I wasn't angry then.
It used to be that I was never prompt, and you were always prompt. I would arrive and the next ten minutes would be spent discussing why I had not arrived earlier. I thought it a silly way to spend the time that had already been diminished. You would say, you always think you have more time than you do. I would say that I either had too much time, or not enough, which created in me profuse anxiety whenever I was faced with the task of leaving the house, and that you should feel lucky that you don't have this problem. You would say that it was inconsiderate and disrespectful to keep people waiting, and I would respond with sort of a whimpering plea, like, you think this is easy for me? But now I am more prompt, and because of this, I value promptness more. You have never said, see, I told you so, but I think you would like to say it, just once. I wish that you would, because your restraint can be deafening.
Estimation of Duration
Although you are prompt when it comes to meeting people in certain places at certain times, your estimations of time in terms of duration are usually incorrect. I say, how long will the thing last, and you say, oh, maybe an hour. But it will last for three hours.
I Don't Know
When you don't know a thing exactly, you say "I don't know." I never say "I don't know." When I don't know, I generally guess, and occasionally lie. Or I find ways to make "I don't know" seem less conclusive, like "I'm not sure, but..." followed by a guess or a lie. You are okay with not knowing, and I am less okay with not knowing, and absolutely not okay with appearing as though I don't know. I associate "I don't know" with stupidity, although there are plenty of things I don't know, and I don't consider myself stupid. I don't consider you stupid, either, but I can't help judging you when you say it. I know that this is unfair, and that it is better, probably, to be honest than to be prideful, but I still wish you wouldn't say it.
Describing a Person's Looks
When I ask about a person's looks, you often offer figurative, inefficient descriptions: "He looked like a potato chip" or "He had a garbage can mouth." Such accounts make me feel impatient, like we are playing a guessing game. I just want: brown hair, six foot one.
Making the Bed
Things are pulled less tightly, when you make the bed. During the week, I make the bed. On weekends, you make the bed. I might be in the adjoining bathroom, fixing my hair, or standing at my closet, trying to figure out what clothes to put on, and I will sneak glances at you as you make the bed. I realize that I should not comment on your method of making the bed, but usually I can't help it, so I say something. I think, if you only would receive the comment gladly, and heed it, then we would both feel good, and the bed would be made in the best way possible. But usually you do not receive the comment well, and respond by saying something like "Why don't you just make the bed, then"—a question turned into a statement for rhetorical effect: you are irritated. I say nothing in reply, and feel regret for having commented. But I also feel like, it would take such a small effort, and would have such good results, to just pull the thing tighter.
You think that my reactions are not in proportion to the things that provoke them. You call this "overreacting." I think that your reactions are not in proportion to the things that provoke them. I call this "underreacting." But then, there are instances when we rely on one another to overreact or underreact, and each of us does the opposite. We have been momentarily confused, as when you take a nap too late in the day, and wake up to darkness.