For example, she is convinced I would never tip a waiter unless she prompted me to do so. She lectures me on the importance of tip income to servers. If I protest by pointing out that I spent many years in the bar business, and she once was a restaurant hostess for about three months, she scowls. I know the importance of tips to someone in the hospitality industry. In twenty years, I only met one bartender who didn't care to be tipped. This was because he did not want to be beholden to the rest of humanity, whom he hated. To be precise, he did not hate absolutely everyone, just all women, all minorities, and 95% of white males. He only allowed hockey and auto racing to be shown on the bar TV, because he enjoyed the accidents, injuries and fights. He thought football players were wimps for wearing helmets and regarded baseball players as a well-paid subclass of homosexuals. He was a special case.
All the other bartenders and waitpeople I have known like to be tipped just fine and I always do so. Lately, when I have signed for our tab and been asked by my Significant Other, "Did you leave a tip?" I answer, "No, I just kicked him in the shins. They like that just as much."
This distracted her hawk eye sufficiently that I adopted that style for the other questions I am asked throughout the day. For example, when I said I saw a tick in the bathtub right after giving the dog a bath, she asked "Did you kill it?"
"No," I replied. "I just flashed it the peace sign."
When I walk in the house, I am always asked, "Did you wipe your feet?"
"No," I now say. "And I was just doing the Harlem Shake through an oil spill. Better call a carpet cleaner."
So I get some space at home now, but our real conflicts have always centered around the car. When we go for a ride together, two things are certain: 1. I have to drive. 2. I will never be capable of doing it correctly. Even though we, coincidentally, drive almost the same model of car, we have utterly different beliefs concerning the nature of the control dials and levers on the dashboard. This results in a lot of angry turning and switching as we drive down the road. But the real problem is that I am always in the wrong lane.
We have a lot of lanes here in California, as we need them to accommodate our enormous traffic jams. Sometimes there are eight lanes on each side of the divider. My chances of being in the one she wants me in would seem slim, but, as a matter of fact, they are none.
"You don't want to be in this lane," she says through gritted teeth, no matter what lane I am in.
"What's wrong with this lane? It's paved, it's got the little bumps on both sides of it, it's going where we want to go."
"Most accidents occur in this lane," she says, in a tone you would not call dulcet.
So I change lanes. She likes the left lane, but I stay away from it because the average Californian treats a trip downtown like a Formula One race, and the left lane is for people who feel that need for speed and the elderly, out-of-state drivers we import to dawdle along at sixty in front of them.
Once we get off the freeway and start tooling along the wide, well-engineered surface streets we enjoy here, there are still many wrong lane choices to make, particularly at intersections where there are two or more left-turn lanes. I tended to treat these lanes equally, because they both turn left, but I was usually wrong. "You want to be in the far left lane," she yells, "because you're going to be making a left down the road."
"This isn't a chess game, " I shout back. "You don't have to think that far ahead. If I'm in the wrong lane, I'LL JUST CHANGE LANES! What do you think of that concept?"
The answer was, not much. Now I just ask "The right left or the left left?"
She understands perfectly. "The left left," she says.
We also have multiple right turn lanes, so I need to be told whether I should be in the right right or the left right. Guidance is only the width of the center console away and it comes quick and unsolicited if I forget to ask. I once pointed out to her that she only finds my driving problematic is because I don't do everything exactly as she would do it if she was driving.
She said, "Pass this guy and when you're done, don't forget to turn off your turn signal like you didn't do the last time." Then she paused to consider my comment and snorted. "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard."