Nothing keeps a relationship on its toes so much as lively debate. Fortunate, then, that my girlfriend and I agree on absolutely nothing. At all.
Combine utter, polar disagreement on everything, ever, with the fact that I am a text-book Only Child, and she is a violent psychopath, and we're warming up. Then factor in my being English while she is German, which not only makes each one of us personally and absolutely responsible for the history, and the social and cultural mores of our respective countries, but also opens up a whole field of sub-arguments grounded in grammatical and semantic disputes and, well, just try saying anything and walking away.
Examples? Okey-dokey. We have argued about:
* The way one should cut a Kiwi Fruit in half (along its length or across the middle).
* Leaving the kitchen door open (three times a day that one, minimum).
* The best way to hang up washing.
* Those little toothpaste speckles you make when you brush your teeth in front of the mirror.
* I eat two-fingered Kit-Kats like I'd eat any other chocolate bars of that size, i.e., without feeling the need to snap them into two individual fingers first. Margret accused me of doing this, 'deliberately to annoy her'.
* Which way - the distances were identical - to drive round a circular bypass (this resulted in her kicking me in the head from the back seat as I drove along).
* The amount of time I spend on the computer. (OK, fair enough.)
* First Born's name (Jonathan). Then, when that was settled...
* How to pronounce First Born's name.
* Our telephone number.
* Which type of iron to buy (price wasn't an issue, it was the principle, damnit).
* Where to sit in the cinema. On those occasions when we a) manage to agree to go to the cinema together and, b) go to see the same film once we're there. (No, really).
* Whether her cutting our son's hair comes under 'money-saving skill' or 'therapy in the making'.
* Shortly after every single time Margret touches my computer, for any reason whatsoever, I have to spend twenty minutes trying to fix crashes, locked systems, data loses, jammed drives, bizarre re-configurations and things stuck in the keyboard. There then follows a free and frank exchange of views with, in my corner, 'It's your fault,' and, in hers, 'It's a curious statistical anomaly.'
* Margret enters the room. The television is showing Baywatch. Margret says, 'Uh-huh, you're watching Baywatch again.' I say, 'I'm not watching, it's just on.' Repeat. For the duration of the programme.
* She wants to paint the living room yellow. I have not the words.
* Margret doesn't like to watch films on the TV. No, hold on - let me make sure you've got the inflection here: Margret doesn't like to watch films on the TV. She says she does, but years of bitter experience have proven that what she actually wants is to sit by me while I narrate the entire bleeding film to her. 'Who's she?', 'Why did he get shot?', 'I thought that one was on their side?', 'Is that a bomb' - 'JUST WATCH IT! IN THE NAME OF GOD, JUST WATCH IT!' The hellish mirror-image of this is when she furnishes me, deaf to my pleading, with her commentary. Chair-clawing suspense being assaulted mercilessly from behind by such interjections as, 'Hey! Look! They're the cushions we've got.', 'Isn't she the one who does that tampon advert?' and, on one famous occasion, 'Oh, I've seen this - he gets killed at the end.'
* Margret thinks I'm vain because... I use a mirror when I shave. During this argument in the bathroom - our fourth most popular location for arguments, it will delight and charm you to learn - Margret proved that shaving with a mirror could only be seen as outrageous narcissism by saying, 'None of the other men I've been with,' (my, but it's all I can do to stop myself hugging her when she begins sentences like that) 'None of the other men I've been with used a mirror to shave.'
'Ha! Difficult to check up on that, isn't it? As all the other men you've been with can now only communicate by blinking their eyes!' I said. Much later. When Margret had left the house.
* The TV Remote. ....