Crow's-Feet Chronicles: Jousting, not jesting, is a combat sport
By Cindy Baker Burnett
Jun 18, 2018
Print this page
Email this article

A good argument, when conducted properly, takes the time and full attention of two people. When performed at home, an argument suffers from too many interruptions and outside pressures. The phone rings. Someone is late for work. Grandchildren must be fed. Sometimes one party will break in with, “Are you finished? 'Dancing with the Stars' starts in five minutes.” You get busy.

On a vacation, however, there are no limitations on how far you can take a disagreement. For most couples, it is the most time they have spent together since their honeymoon. Courtesy has given way to time. Some of the arguments between Lanny and me have erupted on foreign soil.   Italy, for instance.

In Rome, I said, “What do you mean I don't need six hand-painted ceramic tiles? I've got arthritis and I don't need that either. It's not like I'm buying a country. I wouldn't dream of asking you to carry them. I'll hold them in my lap on the plane.” It got worse. “Hey, you're the one who bought a Ferrari cap from a street vendor on the Amalfi Coast for 10 Euros and Ferrari was misspelled. Don't tell me about shopping carefully. I'm spending my own money and installing them in the kitchen counter over the old cork inlay. How do I know they will fit? I just know it, like I know that Tuesday follows Monday. And stop with: 'We could get the same tiles at Walmart for less money.'”

In Florence, Lanny said, “I am ready to walk out the door and you have to go to the bathroom. Why am I not surprised? I swear, you have kidneys the size of lentils. I could go, too, if I thought about it long enough, but I don't want to inconvenience all the people who have to wait for me.” He continued. “Why do you think you will never see another bathroom during the next six hours? They're everywhere, you know.” Sigh. And he continued. “It's nothing but a habit. You see me going out the door and your mind instantly goes to your biological functions. You are so programmed—you see an open door and run for the bathroom.” He said more. “I know what you're doing in there. You're killing time. You have to put the lid down, refold the towels, dry off the soap, replace the washers, alphabetize your toiletries, and pluck your eyebrows.”

In Sorrento, I said, “Only an idiot jogs at night in a foreign country! Was it your intention to bring me to Italy married and send me home a widow? Because if it was, I'm going to cash in the insurance policies now, have my entire body lifted, and go straight to the Isle of Capri.” I continued. “If you're not back in two days, we're leaving you here. This is my final word. No one is going to feel sorry for you because you're stupid. We're going to ship your body home and prop it up in the Boston Marathon. It will be hours before people realize you're not moving under your own steam.” And I continued. “There's danger out there. Don't you realize that? You can't outrun an Alfa Romeo packed with the Sicilian mafia! You can't even outrun a Fiat 500. So there!”

In Tuscany, Lanny asked, “Why are you so sensitive? The people applauded when you boarded because you held the bus up for thirty minutes. It was a joke. Can't you take a joke anymore? I'm sorry you wasted all your shopping time looking for me. I will fill out the necessary papers to have you canonized the minute we get home. Now put a cork in it.”

“Ah-HA! I wondered when you'd bring up the hand-painted ceramic tiles!”