In the grand scheme of things, a husband doesn’t have much in the way of “Glory” to hang his hat on. He will never be right about anything, and history has proven that he will never, ever win an argument. Not really.
So, on those once-in-a-lifetime occasions when the universe says, “Here you go, Mikey,” and throws you a karmic little bone, I suggest you take it and enjoy it. Hide it in a secret place, then dig it up every now and then and wallow on it like a dog. Relish it. Cherish it forever.
A rocky road trip
It was just the wife and I and the GPS on a road trip to the Holy City of Charleston, South Carolina. We were supposed to be following a school activity bus, but those speedy yellow things can be rather elusive in rush-hour Charleston traffic. So eventually we had only the robotic, electronic female voice of my Google Maps app to guide us to our destination, which almost turned out to be divorce court.
“Turn left in 1,000 feet,” said the GPS.
“Which way?” said the wife, who was driving.
“It said turn left,” I repeated.
“That can’t be right.”
“Turn left in 500 feet.”
“That can’t be right,” says the wife, getting louder and getting in the right lane. “I just saw the bus go the other way.” My wife was actually arguing with the GPS lady.
I didn’t notice it then, but the louder my wife got, the louder I got.
“Not that left, honey, that’s the metric left. Take the American left,” said her foolish husband, getting a little louder, as if volume could somehow overcome directional deficiencies. “Look, there is even a fancy little arrow here that shows you the way!”
At this point, my wife called me a name that rhymed with “Smart Bass,” but had nothing to do with fishing.
“Turn left in 250 feet,” urged the GPS.
“Where? Which way?” The wife got a little louder.
“Left, dang it!” Her husband got even louder.
“Why are you yelling at me!” yelled the wife.
“Okay, honey, you need to calm down!” I yelled.
For those men who have never had the joy and privilege of being owned by a wife, the words “calm down” are not only futile, but also ill-advised. Using those words in a domestic discussion can be compared to the effect of throwing 16 ounces of high-octane gasoline on a fire. No one should ever say “calm down” to a wife without police backup in route. And maybe an ambulance on standby.
“You have passed your designation. Turn left in 1,000 feet,” the GPS tried to redirect us, but could barely be heard over the volume and intensity of our voices. The louder I got, the louder she got.
“Don’t tell me to calm down!” yelled the wife. We are traveling in bumper-to-bumper traffic at 60 mph. With both hands gesturing angrily at me and none on the wheel, she is making full eye contact with me, giving me a glare that could light a campfire while apparently questioning whether or not my parents were married when I was born.
“The GPS is telling you to turn left!” I yelled. “I’m telling you to turn left! Why can’t you just turn left? And calm down! And put some hands on the wheel!”
“Turn left in 500 feet,” GPS said. The argument between the lady I married and the lady in my phone was about to become a catfight.
“That’s not right!” the wife yelled. “You are wrong, and that stupid GPS is wrong!”
At this point, the GPS on my phone just gave up.
“I can’t help you if you don’t calm down,” said the digital GPS voice, much to my amazement. I didn’t even know it could do that.
A moment to cherish
Let’s stop right here for a moment, shall we? We won’t even discuss the fact that, navigationally speaking, the GPS turned out to be right and I was right. That’s a minor detail. This is the most important fact here: When your spouse tells you that you need to calm down, and then the phone GPS tells you that you need to calm down, perhaps it is time to calm down.
There have been some wonderful moments in my married life: our wedding day, the birth of our children, the Mother’s Day Arson of 2016 when I advised my wife not to use the charcoal grill on a windy day and she did it anyway. But hearing the GPS lady on my phone telling my wife to calm down will go down in history as one of the greatest moments of my married life. If I live long enough, I’ll tell all my grandkids about it.
Perhaps we could all learn a little something from GPS, myself included. In any situation in life, all it takes is one person, often the husband, I confess, to start getting loud and rude and uncivil, and then things escalate from there.
In today’s often-uncivil world, we constantly hear about road rage incidents and fast-food brawls in the news, some that even prove fatal - just otherwise normal people losing their temper and doing something stupid while in public or traveling down the highway. We all catch ourselves getting overly angry at the Wal-Mart check out, at the McDonald’s drive thru, or in the school pick-up line, refusing to let someone else in front of us or cursing other drivers.
The words “calm down” are often good advice for all of us.
Speak softly, and trust your GPS. But if all else fails, just listen to your husband. He can’t be wrong all of the time.
Michael M. DeWitt Jr. is the managing editor of The Hampton County Guardian newspaper in South Carolina. He is an award-winning humorist, journalist and outdoor writer and the author of two books.