Relationships are at their best when they are changing, evolving. A stagnant relationship gives both parties a chance to get bored, and bored people tend to notice how unrelentingly irritating the person they live with really is.
Noticing shit, according to a recent report by lawyers who probably don’t exist, is the leading cause of divorce.
I’ll let you decide whether this is good or bad news for us while you consider the following:
He’s found a new way to annoy me.
ME: (glancing down at the car radio) Their metadata is… ads!
HIM: Yeah… that’s—
ME: Is that legal?
HIM: I… don’t know?
ME: When I look down, I want to see the name of the fucking song, not a damned ad.
HIM: Okay, but it’s the Arch.* Do you really not know that this is Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, by Cyndi Lauper?
ME: Maybe I wasn’t born a thousand years ago and don’t know who sings it!
HIM: Okay, well… It’s Cyndi Lauper.
ME: Well… does she spell it with an I or a Y?
HIM: But first the Y then the I.
ME: … Are you fucking with me right now?
ME: Are… is… you’re fucking with me. I can tell.
HIM: Tubthumping, by Chumbawumba.
ME: Oh, I know.
ME: Are you kidding? This is my anthem.
And then he let it go, and we drove the rest of the way home in companionable silence.
I’m sorry, are you new here? He rode that fucking joke into the ground, watching me more than the road to see the exact moment when he’d annoyed me just enough that I might actually jump out of a moving car.
HIM: Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, by U2.
ME: Okay, but it’s U2. You could have just strung together any depressing phrase and had a shot at it being a U2 song.
HIM: True… but I still knew it.
ME: (flicks off radio) Go on. Name that tune.
HIM: What, you’re making it a game now?
ME: You won’t stop no matter what I do; might as well make it difficult.
HIM: (sighs) I… I don’t know.
HIM: I’d have had it in a minute!
ME: Sure… but I can name that tune in four notes.
ME: (singing while flicking radio back on) Unbelievable.
HIM: Livin’ On A Prayer. Bon Jovi.
ME: Do not. Attempt. To school me. On Jon Bon Jovi.
ME: (sings along through clenched teeth)**
HIM: If I’m annoying you, you can just say so…
But see, there’s the rub: if I admit that his latest party trick is annoying as fuck, it will only go away for a little while. He’ll trot it out again when we’re driving up to Chicago, or while we’re playing Rock Band with friends (can you imagine? Because I can see it now as clearly as if it had already happened) or—worst of all—he’ll technically retire it in favor of a variant that isn’t musical and therefore has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
What’s worse than a husband who reads you the oldies station like the Sunday Times? One who does it with shops you pass.
At least this way it sparks the odd conversation.
ME: (enjoying last strains of Under Pressure) Okay, real talk. If I’d done the “name that tune” thing with this song, right at the beginning—
HIM: I probably would have had the same PTSD reaction you do to the opening notes, yeah. And I wouldn’t have wanted you to turn it back on in case it was the bad song.
ME: You know he actually defended that shit when they sued?
HIM: Oh, they sued? I know The Verve got sued over—
ME: Oh yeah, they sued the right fuck outta him. I’m not sure how it went, but even after he claimed that he completely changed that riff because he added that one note on the downbeat.
HIM: … no.
ME: Seriously. He was all, “See, theirs went, din-din-din-din-din-din-din, din-din-din-din-din-din-din. But what I did was din-din-din-din-din-din-din, DIN din-din-din-din-din-din-din. And that totally changes the whole riff.”
HIM: That’s bullshit.
ME: Right? I felt stupid just repeating it! And he did it just like that, too. I saw the interview—it was part of his Behind the Music.
HIM: (shakes head)
ME: Actually, this is going to bother me. (quickly googles) Okay… he now admits it was a dick move to claim that he’d changed it with that one note.
ME: But in 2016 he said he owns the song so it’s all good.
HIM: So they got a shared credit in the suit—
HIM: And he’s finally bought them out.
ME: No, he claimed to own Under Pressure. Quote, “Like Michael Jackson owned the Beatles.”
ME: A representative for Queen reached out after that interview to say that’s not accurate.
ME: All of it.
HIM: So he doesn’t own his song or theirs?
ME: Nope. And this was 2016. He’s like 50 years old now and he’s still pulling this shit.
HIM: Plus he ruined Under Pressure.
ME: Right? Honestly, that’s what they ought to have sued for—punitive damages for all the people who now can’t hear an incredible song without cringing through the first 45 seconds, worried we’re going to be accosted with his shitty song.
HIM: (nods) Bowie needed better lawyers.
ME: din-din-din-din-din-din-din, DIN din-din-din-din-din-din-din
* Husband has, in recent months, become one of those people who tunes in to the oldies station by default. At first I allowed this—ever eager to humor him and also because I crave classic rock in the summer months—but this trend shows no sign of abating and I’m becoming concerned. What’s next? Will his belt slowly migrate up to his armpits? What if he starts complaining about “these kids today” even though we don’t have one hanging around the house anymore? I tell you, I’m not prepared to be married to an old man—I just dyed my hair black and green, for fuck’s sake!
** Go ahead and try not to sing along. It’s not possible.