We were in a network meeting one day recently in Los Angeles when I mentioned, in passing during some chitchat, that Tink and I were sharing a suitcase on the trip.
I can’t imagine what in the conversation brought up this tidbit of information but, trust me, it was relevant.
A female studio executive, with whom we’ve been working closely, smiled. “You two are the cutest couple. Do you ever fight?”
“Oh, yeah,” I replied quickly. “We fight.”
“Like what? For instance, what would you fight about?”
At the moment, I couldn’t think of anything and Tink was no help because, by lunch, he can’t remember what he had for breakfast. The truth is that, usually, our fights are really mere fusses and they are usually over nothing very big, and it takes both of us being in a bad mood to disagree. Otherwise, the one in the good mood — and this more often than not is Tink — will defuse it quickly with humility or humor. But on those dastardly days when we are both primed, it only takes something small like dryer lint to become a showdown on the Rondarosa.
Since that day, I’ve thought about her question so I can tell her, the next time I think of it, that I have an answer. There is a spot on I-20 East in Atlanta where the exit for I-85 and I-75 is located. That spot — that spot — has been the scene of some of our more heated disagreements.
The first time it happened because I was reading a magazine. Tink always encourages me to catch up on my reading when we are driving on trips. I was absorbed in “Nostalgia,” my favorite monthly essay in Vogue, when I looked up and said, “Tink, you missed the exit.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“I’m pretty sure you did.”
When he discovered he had, he was furious because I was reading a magazine and not telling him where to go. Never mind that we have navigation in the car and there are big green signs across the highway (though some of them (and this is the truth) are crawling with kudzu in downtown Atlanta).
I learned my lesson. The next time we were within 15 miles of the exit, I put my magazine down and paid attention.
“Now, remember, the exit is coming up. You missed it the last time.”
“No, I didn’t,” he replied. “How could I possibly miss that exit? I know exactly where it is. The airport is that way and the Capitol is that way.”
While he was explaining how well he knew where he was, he drove right by the exit. I looked out the window, then back to him, and said comically, “You just passed it.”
He was so startled that he started laughing and shrugged like a chastened little boy. “Oops.” It was truly funny.
The lesson, though, didn’t stay learned with me. We were sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, edging toward that same exit on another occasion. We were coming in from Mississippi so Tink was tired from all the driving while I was luxuriating and reading magazines. He switched lanes further left and since the exit is to the right, that didn’t seem like a good idea. But I held my tongue.
In a moment, he said, thoroughly frustrated. “Argh! I’m in the wrong dang lane.”
I had the terrible judgement and lack of good sense to say, “Well, I started to tell you that but…”
For the record to all you husbands and wives, when you decide to hold your tongue, be sure to keep it held. I pray I can remember that lesson.
But the truth is that sometimes even when I know better but I can’t help myself. I act just like Mama.
However, from now on, I will not be reading a magazine anywhere near I-85 and I-20.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “Mark My Words: A Memoir of Mama.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Saturdays and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.