Everyone Hates It When Mom and Dad Fight

Most fights in relationships are about trivial shit.* I remember reading an article in a ladies’ magazine years ago about a woman who had broken up with one boyfriend because of olives (which goes better in a martini, I think was the question) and another boyfriend because of a tangerine. I might’ve had made the tangerine part up. It was some kind of food stuff though; specifically produce, because I remember the writer commenting on the fact that the grocery store was clearly a bad spot for her and her mates.

The worst fight I can ever recall was one that my friends Otto and Polly had on the downtown 2 train, shortly before they severed their engagement. It was so bad that I got off at Fulton Street to “switch trains.” This was about as convincing as telling them that I desperately needed to go to the old fish market: “I have been reading Joseph Mitchell, and I long to see where the old salts used to hang out.”

Anyway, I have never gotten off a train so fast. I’m sure that neither Otto nor Polly was convinced, but I’m also sure that they didn’t care. Their argument had started over something stupid, like, I don’t know, whether or not Polly was allowed to smoke at an outside table and continued with Otto not wanting to get married if she was going to keep smoking once she was pregnant with his child and Polly reassuring him that she would never have children with someone who was such a pain in the ass. The only other time I had half as much fun with them was when I fell off my sandals crossing the street and twisted my ankle.

Thing is, the only thing worse than listening to one of those fights is being in one. Even I, with my limited relationship experience, have had the joy of weeping on a subway in full view of the Saturday night drunk crowd. Granted, it was about a week before I broke up with the dude in question, and it was two years ago, but I still think about it and cringe.

The point is that no matter how hard you try, if you live in a city, fighting in public will eventually happen to you. It’s like crying in bars. It is zero fun but everyone I know who lives in a crowded, stressful place has done it.

Which is why I’m thinking that my next get-rich quick scheme will involve setting up tiny huts all over the city, similar to bus shelters, only sound-proof and totally enclosed. Fighting couples will be able to duck into these little yurts and bicker to their hearts’ content about olives and smoking and who made them late for the company party. And then the rest of us can shudder gratefully that we’re not them – at least, not tonight.

* Before any of my twelve loyal readers ask, no, this one wasn’t inspired by any friction with Sgt Lucky. So far, he’s managed to ignore my more obvious defects and roll his eyes to himself without me noticing.

Published by Jen Hubley Luckwaldt

I'm a freelance writer and editor.

4 thoughts on “Everyone Hates It When Mom and Dad Fight

  1. It’s true, though.

    I think it’s because the really serious stuff gets worked out early, or you break up over it early on, and then there’s just the inevitable personality friction that occurs when you spend an awful lot of time with another person, and it finds its way out through fighting about stupid shit. Like tangerines.

    Or, you know, bagels. I’m sure people fight about bagels in a horrible manner.

  2. “So far, he’s managed to ignore my more obvious defects.”

    Or, perhaps he appreciates your obvious defects.

    Speaking as semi-loyal reader No. 9, I hope that shrink of yours doesn’t cure you into a state of normalcy. You might lose your muse.

  3. You’ve got it all wrong. Couples fight in public because they crave an audience. The subway is a perfect venue.

    There is always the possibility that a complete stranger will stand up, point to the offending partner, and declaim, “He is SO wrong! You are a SAINT for putting up with his bullshit.”

    So chastened, the offending partner will come to his senses. And we can all return to our regular programming.

    Semi-loyal reader No. 17.

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