Fight It Out

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Every couple fights. If they say they don’t, they are lying. Not every couple has knock down drag-out screamers or anything, but everyone, at some point, gets into an argument. That’s fine, that’s natural. Some people love to fight—it’s like a hobby or something. Two of my friends are like that, always pissed off and making a scene. I think they think it keeps the passion alive or something. I dunno.

I love to argue, in a for fun let’s debate something we know nothing about endlessly kind of way, but I don’t like the kind of fights where you’re actually mad at someone and feelings get hurt. Since Frank’s not much of an arguer, our fights usually end up being more about two people in a bad mood rubbing each other the wrong way than about actual issues.

Tiffs, I guess. Often they’re the result of being cooped up in the house for too long, and a walk to the deli sets everything straight again. Sometimes, though, the public fight is unavoidable. And man, is it unpleasant. I think eveyone’s been in that situation at least once, whether with a partner or a parent or a friend. I think we can all agree that it sucks.

Tempers flare at dinner, say, and you have whisper angrily at each other across the table or else storm outside and yell at each other while the whole restaurant watches you out of the corner of their eyes. There’s always someone snotty looking on, tsk tsking, while your friends shift uncomfortably in their seats or try to change the subject. The waiter will make a stupid joke and you’ll have to pretend to laugh, but actually you’re kicking the person you’re fighting with under the table.

It’s just awful. Nothing will make you feel like a drunk hillbilly faster, and yet once the fight gets started, it’s impossible to pull away. Your rational brain will be telling you to just let it go, to discuss it later, but some perverse part of you doesn’t listen. Ugh. Just thinking about it makes me cringe.

The last big public fight I had was about whether or not to go to a party. It was stupid. I can’t remember what issue even was. Somehow, a nice discussion of what we wanted to do that evening had just snowballed.

We’d just finished dinner with friends, and it was raining, of course, and we couldn’t leave until we resolved the issue because home was one way and the party the other. And so we were wet and yelling and getting stared at by well-dressed passersby who were clearly thinking, “Wow, I’m glad we don’t fight like that,” while our friends were sort of edging away, making phone call gestures with their thumbs and pinkies.

And that’s the funny part. As embarrassing and awful as it is to argue in front of people, nothing makes you feel haughtier than watching other ostensibly nice people get into it in front of you. That kneejerk schadenfreude must just be hardwired in or something. When you see two people screaming at each other in the dairy aisle, it’s impossible not to think “What awful people” or “Guess they aren’t going to make it” even if you’d just finished your own argument in produce.

Scorn is the great uniter, I guess. Ah, humans. Aren’t we great?

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