Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fight Club

There are only two major rules of Fight Club:
Number 1: You do not talk about fight club.
And Number 2: You DO NOT talk about fight club.
It seems simple, and logical, but in this day and age of InstaKvetch, we rarely hold back. Not talking isn’t the same as not speaking.
In the heat of the moment and its radiant aftermath, our anger overtakes us and we usually burst forth in a litany of protest.
We are not ourselves.
We are marriage's blind rage.
We are familiarity's contempt.
We are our own worst enemies.
Until death do we part.
We forget that you don't talk about your sparring partner. You don't flesh out the details of ugly, darkened moods. We smile in pictures.
You DO NOT talk about fight club.
You don't talk about all the ways the other person hurt your feelings. Or misconstrued your words and turned them against you.
You don't talk about petty frustrations any more than we speak of serious infractions.
You don't talk in front of the kids.
Especially not after you've yelled behind a closed door.
You don't talk to your friends.
You don't talk in front of the neighbors.
Though they may have heard you over the fence.
You don't talk about choosing sides.
If you're smart, you don't post transcripts to Facebook looking to garner awkward support. You stay mum at the water cooler. You mind the gap between treadmills at the gym. You keep a stiff upper lip.
Membership in this club is exclusive and requires this kind of dedication.
You don't talk about how serious you are about your commitment to the organization.
But there's more you can't do.
You don't joke about what will happen when the kids grow up. Or when they've left the nest.
You certainly don't talk about planning what you'll wear to the funeral. Or who you'll start dating when an acceptable amount of time has gone by.
Unless you're planning your own "send-off." ... But you won't get to pick your forever wear. Chances are you won't meet Elvis or hang out with anyone from the 27 Club.
Gallows humor, in this instance especially, is tricky and better left unsaid. Most folks won't laugh, even if you laugh first.
No … There's not usually much laughter during fight club.
And then there's the worry that the joke might just come back to haunt you.
There's not a lot of variation, either. We often circle around the same old arguments.
Of course there are exceptions:
Each member of fight club hops around a ring, dancing and jabbing in accordance with their own rules.
Timing is everything.
That moment of explosion, the point of impact.
A top, closed too loosely under pressure, often gives way. It's hard to predict where it will land. How much damage it will do.
Unforgivable betrayals ...
Like when I watched Game of Thrones without you.
Or when you tracked mud across the freshly washed floor.
Or when I declined your invitation to play Words With Friends.
A thousand little swipes resulting in a thousand invisible cuts, which will be covered in a thousand tiny bandages. And then doused in wine.
Until one of you reaches for something stronger ...
A deep breath. … A white flag. … An apology.
And understanding.

Eventually, we all have to talk about fight club.

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