Thursday, September 04, 2008

Till parking lot drama do us part....

At the ripe old age of 35 and just having celebrated my fifth wedding anniversary I don’t claim to be the ‘be all and end all’ expert when it comes to what constitutes a happy and healthy marriage but I do know this, if I spend 30 minutes of my precious Saturday morning calling up my girlfriends and sister to give them a play by play of the ‘incident’ in the Walmart parking lot just moments before, then my friends, something ain’t right in somebody’s marriage.

I was minding my own business, just walking casually back to my car, getting ready to leave one errand run for another. I put my bags in the trunk, got into the drivers seat, and started the car. This by any standard is a fairly normal parking lot expectation for just about anyone. All of a sudden I hear a car behind me come to a screeching halt and a man gets out. Let me introduce you to the ‘yelling man’. At first I panicked thinking I had done something wrong, [Note: it took three tries to get my license so I always think it’s my fault when the situation involves a screeching car…that I blame on the fact that my driver’s ed course supplied only hot looking 20 something guys as driving instructors…so Frasier Atkinson, wherever you are, it was nice that you took the time to explain to me how to be a safe driver and the obey the rules of the road but all I got out of our in-car driving sessions was how cute your smile was and how good you looked in those jeans…but I digress] but when I noticed ‘yelling man’ walk over to the driver’s side of his car I was relieved to know that the problem wasn’t me.

Instead ‘yelling man’ proceeded to have a full fledged ‘relationship argument’ with his wife right there in the middle of the parking lot. Now since I gave her husband a name, it would only be fair that I refer to her as ‘very angry woman’. This couple went on for what seemed like forever and let me tell you it was a loud, arms waving, kind of marital spat. Let me point out that I had started up my car and it was very clear that I wanted to leave the parking spot, so I could get on with my day but apparently that didn’t matter to ‘yelling man’ and ‘very angry woman’, because she turned off the car and had no intentions of letting me out of my parking spot prison until she let her husband know exactly how she felt.

In a nutshell here are the ‘must knows’ of this particular drama. She thought he was rude to her back in the store and like always ‘he had neglected her feelings’. He on the other hand thought like always she was blowing things out of proportion (like I said they were yelling and since I had nothing better to do with my time, I may have rolled down my window for a better listen…and for the record it was completely in my right to do so, since at this point their ‘argument’ had become public ‘parking lot’ domain). [Note: If ‘very angry woman’ was looking for a quiet and peaceful shopping day at the shopping centre with her husband, then 11am on a Saturday morning was not the time nor the place for an idyllic shopping experience].

At that point, I thought I was on TV. You know those surreal ‘Candid Camera’ moments, where you look around thinking to yourself, “OK you got me, where’s the camera?” But this time there was no camera and no production crew laughing at my situation. So after patiently waiting for ‘yelling man’ and ‘very angry woman’ [note: clock count at this point was at least six minutes] I thought to myself, we’re adults here, if I simply explain to the couple that I just wanted to get out of the parking lot, and if they could temporarily put their argument on hold while she moved their car over one parking space, then I could get leave and they could resume their spat. OK fine, stupid idea I know, but at the time it sounded, if only in my head, like a perfectly reasonable solution.

So I got out of my car and proceeded to walk over to ‘yelling man’ and ‘very angry wife’ to calmly explain my predicament. Then do you know what ‘yelling man’ had the nerve to say to me? And in the most condescending tone I might add. He looks at me (well if we’re going for official police report accuracy here, he actually stared me down…the kind you see in those ‘heat of the moments’ on soap-operas) and says “Hello, do you have a problem? Or can I help you with something?” Normally, in any other given situation, a question like that deserves an answer but ‘yelling man’ didn’t seem to be in the talking mood…or at least not with me. So, politely as I moved backwards to my car, I said, “No, no I’ll just go back to my car and wait until you and your wife finish up, sorry to interrupt.”

Now please explain to me why I was apologizing? Why is that I, the party that was obviously in the right, was made to feel very much in the wrong by ‘yelling man’s’ two brief sentences? And while I’m putting questions out there, since when do public displays of ‘marital woes’ in the middle of a parking lot in the suburbs become OK? Had ‘relationship arguments’ in a wide open arena suddenly become acceptable? Was it our duty as fellow married types to just let these kind of ‘situations’ just go on in front of our eyes and let them play out until the ‘yelling men’ and the ‘very angry women’ of the worlds have come to a resolution. Even if it means that we have to put a hold on our lives?

I called up my fellow married friend Nadia and asked her if there was a memo circulating in the neighbourhood that made this kind of behavior acceptable for couples. A ‘coupling do’s and don’ts’ memo that I obviously had no idea even existed.

Good news…no such memo was to be found anywhere. Apparently I had simply just encountered my very first couple of married ‘crazies’. That’s what Nadia called those couples who think it’s OK to have those ‘remind me again why I’m still married to you arguments’ in public. Arguments that I might add, I thought were still reserved for the privacy of one’s home or for daytime soap opera plot lines.

Which leads me to my next question, at what point in a relationship, do you let yourself believe that you can take the most unpleasant moments of your ‘couplehood’ and put them out there on public display? And for that matter, not care that people are pointing and staring at you and could possibly be putting you down in that newly formed ‘crazies’ married category? Or is it me? Am I one of the few that hasn’t been so desensitized by the wave of reality TV shows, that this kind of drama playing out before me isn’t deemed to be normal behavior in my eyes?

Let’s just say that one of two things will have to happen. Either the whole vow business will have to be updated to include “Till death and parking lot do us part”, or a brand new lecture topic for marriage courses will have to be made mandatory for potential would be couples. No matter how mad you are at your significant other and how big the argument is…never ever, ever have it the middle of a very busy and packed Walmart parking lot on a Saturday morning…save it until you get home. Or better yet, don’t go shopping with your husband if that’s what the end result is going to be. Here’s a little self-help advice for those couples prone to the ‘parking lot drama’ syndrome: One of the many reasons why married women hold on to their friendships with the ‘girls’ and value them so…it’s for those peaceful, fun-filled, drama-free shopping trips.

Now, so I don’t leave you hanging with the ‘incident’, this is how it finally played out. At the ten minute mark ‘yelling man’ finally managed to calm down and walked back to the passenger seat and he and ‘very angry woman’ drove off…laughing. And I was able to leave my parking space prison and go on with my day.

Welcome to the world of marriage…you never know what you’re going to get.

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