She Said, Z Said: It Tastes Like Chicken But It Sounds Like Bull
In family matters, the war of wills is won with cunning ... or creative excuses
She: Sometimes I think being married is like playing a very long game of chicken.
Z: Are we having that for dinner again?
She: Excuse me?
Z: What I mean is that everything you cook is great. Whatever you want to make I am very, very appreciative of it.
She: Sure you are. But only because it means you won the round. When I cook it means I blinked and you won.
Z: Whee! Chicken for dinner. I win!
She: I didn’t say it was a high-stakes game. Basically, we have a long list of mundane, never-ending tasks that we are collectively responsible for, and that we are not always willing to do.
Z: I told you. I had a headache.
She: That’s not what I mean. I’m talking grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, homework supervision, chauffer for our child, going to the post office, buying gifts for our relatives’ birthdays, paying bills, taking out the trash ... It goes on forever.
Z: I notice you didn’t mention cleaning the house.
She: I never mention cleaning the house — which is why I almost always win that particular round of chicken.
Z: I think the health department wins that round of chicken.
She: As long as I’m not the one scrubbing toilets.
Z: And what kind of person still goes to the post office? Don’t you have e-mail?
She: The person who’s mailing your relatives the Christmas presents she wrapped.
Z: You love wrapping and post officing. And you’re very good at it. Yes, you are. But do I love paying the bills?
She: I heard you hum a happy song about the joys of online bill pay, and I swore I would never get between you and a credit-card statement.
Z: This kind of chicken isn’t nearly as much fun as doing chicken fights in the pool. It’s not even as much fun as teriyaki chicken leftovers. Which you reheat brilliantly.
She: But the chicken fights in the pool are a perfect example of the delicate choreography involved in our chicken dance.
Z: You lost me.
She: I only go in the pool on vacation.
Z: Which means that I was the one who had to go in all the time with Koss when he was little.
Z: And I’m the one who still has to go in with him, and has to hold up his bony little butt in the water when someone challenges us to a game of chicken.
She: Now you’re catching on.
Z: You’re pretty good at this for someone who claims to disdain war games and computer simulations.
She: I save all my strategic thinking for important things.
Z: Is that why you leave the clean laundry on the sofa instead of, oh, say, anywhere else in the house? Because that’s where I sit to watch TV?
She: Folding laundry on the sofa where you sit is just good manners. That’s entirely different. If you were, oh, I don’t know, cooking dinner when you got home from work instead of sitting on the couch, I would have more time to fold the laundry.
Z: Ah, I see.
She: I don’t think you do.
Z: Is this chicken strategy of yours the way you get me to always be the one to help Koss with his math homework?
She: No. That’s because he’s surpassed me in math already. He won’t even let me look at it anymore.
Z: I think you’ve out-chickened yourself on that one. I bet you could do it perfectly well, but you have both him and yourself convinced otherwise.
She: Yes. That’s it.
Z: Unless ... you’re still faking me out just to get out of homework duty?
Z: Yes, dear.