Every so often, someone will lob a hand grenade into the middle of a perfectly lovely relationship. You know the ones - like "So, when are the two of you going to settle down and get married?" or "Don't you get tired of living in that little apartment all by yourself?" You know you only have seconds before calamity strikes, but we tend to stand there staring. Then BOOM it's too late.
This morning it was the second child question. It was a lovely Sunday morning. The sun was creeping into the bedroom and there was no place we all had to be for the first morning in weeks. And all of a sudden, there was a mad rush to mess things up. Couldn't we please turn on the television and avoid any contact that might create stress in this otherwise tranquil moment? Too late. The pin was pulled and there were just a handful of seconds to act.
What to do? Jump on it and sacrifice myself? Run screaming from the room? Pretend to speak only Farsi? I was trapped, and though I could feel my blood running cold in my veins, I remained calm. I remembered the chapter from the self-help book that I read about communication - something about repeating back what you heard to make sure that the conversation remains clear and distinct. That didn't work, so I panicked. I reverted to sarcasm.
This was not my best response, but it moved me to a position that I could defend: my total lack of sincerity.
There was a spin, a parry, and a thrust. I watched it all in slow motion, like bullet-time in "The Matrix" and I still couldn't keep it from blowing up in my face. Then, just as abruptly as it had come, the crisis passed. We went about the rest of our day without any serious psychic or bodily injury. We laughed. We played. We even relaxed a little bit.
Maybe the conversational anti-personell ordinance is most useful for keeping one's self-preservation skills in check. We survived - this time...