It has been said that opposites attract. Those who say things like that, say it as if were good news or something. I suppose if it does prove that God has a sense of humor, then I guess it is good news. It does not, however, promote the warm and empathetic relationship that a husband and a wife are supposed to cultivate with one another.
There are times that I think the only thing Brunhilda and I have in common are the same address and the same date on our marriage certificate. She likes to healthy, I could eat pizza or burgers for every meal. I love sports, Brunhilda thinks it is a plague on mankind. I get up in the morning without a single clue as to what I am going to do, she plans her next headache.
Throughout all of this, however, we both have a fondness for travel. I think that this is mainly to escape a pair of teenage girls, a pre-teen boy, all of which are in competition to either drive us to the poor house or the psych ward, whichever comes sooner. So in a gallant effort to escape these 3 terrorists-in-training, we agreed that we needed to go away for a long weekend and we agreed on the Black Hills of South Dakota. I think that is the last thing we agreed upon as our solid common ground soon turned to quicksand.
I would be willing to take off for South America in a forty-year-old pick-up truck with bald tires, Brunhilda takes a city map spread across the table in a small town of fewer than 2000 people, with color-coded stickpins to go the grocery store. Brunhilda will not leave home until she knows where she will lay her head every night and what kind of pattern is on the carpet. When she wakes up in the morning, she puts together an itinerary that is more detailed the Normandy invasion. I don’t know whether I am going to turn left or right when I leave the parking lot.
I, like every other man, know where I am going and how to get there. I would never risk getting kicked out of the testosterone club by pulling over and asking directions. Brunhilda, on the other hand, believes that every man with a little grease under his fingernails and has attained the position of a gas station attendant also has a doctorate in travel and geography.
So off we go, by car this time because I have convinced Brunhilda that the Rapid City airport was destroyed by fire last week. Armed only with hope and good intentions and communicating like a couple of UN delegates whose headphones had jammed.
Years ago, we visited the Black Hills on our honeymoon and were the picture of romantic bliss. When I took a wrong turn, I would say something incredibly romantic like: “I took a chance. Like when I married you. Maybe I will be lucky again.” To which she would reply: “Getting there is half the fun with you, even if we are going nowhere.”
Since then, our automobile rapport has suffered a decline of staggering proportions and not knowing where I am headed is far less enchanting to her.
“I think you missed the turn there, Magellan.”
“Well, thanks for your misinformed opinion. Now you just concentrate on the scenery.”
“I would enjoy the scenery a lot better if I knew where I was. Let’s stop and ask directions at the next gas station.”
“I don’t need to ask directions, now just watch me and learn something.”
“Learn something? Like I need a diploma in wrong turns. We need gas anyway.”
“There’s plenty of gas.”
“Look at the gauge, will you? I don’t want to run out of gas when I don’t even know where I am.”
“Did you ever wonder why they put all those damn gauges and instrument on my side? They put them here for me – not you. So you don’t have to worry about it.”
“All those men out there and I end up with the Happy Wanderer.”
And then, LIKE A FOOL, I utter the three words that started the whole damn women’s movement. “Are you premenstrual?”
Our next trip is to tour the wine regions of the west coast. A place we both want to see.
She is flying. I am driving.