Parking lots are my husband’s kryptonite. Within those faded lines painted on pavement lie a puzzle he feels incapable of solving. He’s never trying to find the closest spot, being close to the building doesn’t matter to him. My father always liked to park near a light pole if possible, thinking it would narrow down where to look for the car when he inevitably forgot where he parked. But poles don’t matter to Derek. He likes a pull through—the lazy person’s back-in—for a quick and easy getaway, but it’s not a deal breaker.
He suffers from a severe case of What If I’ve Picked the Wrong Spot? Whatever that means. He can’t describe what he’s looking for, but he’ll pull into a spot, or just begin the turn and then balk, reverse course and park somewhere else. I didn’t think it was possible, but my husband has a severe case of the yips when it comes to parking. I ran into the front end of a car while parking very early on in my driving career and it mostly scarred me for life. I don’t care where I park I just hope the spot is large enough to accommodate my car’s turning radius. But that’s not his issue. When he does park he gets no feeling of satisfaction, because he never truly believes he picked a good spot.
When this happens, I sing a couple bars of a dumb song I’ve written: “Indecisive parking! Will he choose this one? Will he choose that one? Where will he paaaaaaaark?” Sometimes I forgo the song and instead compliment him on his choices, not to torment him, but to try and train him to be happy with his decisions. “Holy cow, dude! Rock star parking spot, did you call ahead?” He doesn’t really like this method. He thinks I am mocking him, but I am 100% not mocking him. I am merely trying to train this paricular idiosyncrasy out of him. I see it as a milder symptom of a larger problem: lack of confidence.
It baffles me why my incredible smart, talented, thoughtful husband is not a walking talking beacon of self-confidence. Which isn’t fair, because he often says the same thing about me and I’ve told him on numerous occasions that I perceive myself to be average. I do not believe that being average is a bad thing, but I do think I am stuck square in the middle. He disagrees, we debate, we both lose.
He believes the parking conundrum comes from a fear that another option might be better and he’s missing out on it. He has no evidence of this being the case, but that’s what he thinks must be happening in his brain. Once I commented I thought it was getting better, he seemed to be more decisive and I wasn’t noticing as much hesitation. “Oh no, it’s the same. I’m just hiding it better so you won’t sing that stupid song or compliment me. Maybe you’ll just stop paying attention.” It’s cute that after 8 years of being married to me he thinks I’m going to just let this go. I am kind of a stickler for these things, I won’t let it go because it torments him, so I want him to try and fix it. It’s got nothing to do with me really, it doesn’t inconvenience me in the slightest. But I can’t let it lie.
If parking is his kryptonite, mine might be noises of unknown origins. If I hear a sound and don’t know the source, I get a little edgy. Derek has learned to make up a mostly satisfying answer. It was the wind/the house is settling/a truck went by. Sometimes this works really well, I believe him, it makes sense to me, and I go about my business. Other times it’s not enough and I will set out on a little reconnaissance mission to figure out where the noise came from, what could have caused it. I fear this will only get worse as I get older. The other morning I heard a metal clanking sound as Derek was getting ready for work and to me it sounded like he was clomping around the living room removing all the metal radiator covers and tossing them haphazardly on the floor. “What’s going on in here?”
“What do you mean, I am making toast.”
“There were some loud noises. Metal noises.”
“Well, I thought I would get my clothes off the metal drying rack and then put the drying rack away.”
“That’s not what it sounded like.”
“You’re right, it was probably something else entirely.”
In my defense he is so loud in the morning. He makes quiet stuff like moving pillows around sound like a jet plane is taking off. One time, I was trying to sleep and he proceeded to dump a metal container full of change onto the bed and sort out the pennies. I’m not lying, this is a true story and one that he will never live down because I bring it up all the time.
“Remember the time you decided to, I don’t know, sort your pennies by date on the bed while I was trying to sleep? That was a weird noise.”
Sometimes he laughs when I bring this up, but mostly he likes to remind me of one of my many stupid lapses in judgement.
“I do! Do you remember the time we bought 2 pounds of salmon and you left it in the grocery bag on the floor overnight?”
“Oh! Yes, I do remember that, how about the time you decided to arm our home alarm system but didn’t know the code to turn it off and then had to disconnect the incredibly loud siren in the basement by knocking it off the wall with a broom handle?”
“You think you see cats in our house all the time! We don’t have a cat. You’re allergic to cats!”
“You once tried to scare the hiccups out of me which caused me to scream and burst into tears!”
“It stopped your hiccups.”
“That’s true. It did. Have a nice day at work, sir.”
“You too, madam.”
I often joke that if Derek and I ever decide to order tombstones to mark our graves his would say: “Are you sure this is the best spot?” And mine would say: “What was that noise?” A sentiment that manages to be appropriate for both of us in life and in death.