We are arguing, once again, about a calendar. Specifically a digital, made-to-be shared, work, home, entertainment, never-miss-a-birthday, color-coded, easy to access and always at our fingertips smartphone calendar. Which we share.
After 51 years of give and take — I don’t make him listen to Ethel Merman and he doesn’t make me listen to Led Zeppelin — my husband and I quarrel daily about the most unimportant thing: the way I keep track of appointments, birthdays, and celebrations. We have been quarreling about my haphazard bookkeeping since he retired 6 years, 4 months, and 22 days ago.
Before he retired 6 years, 4 months, and 22 days ago, we had separate calendars. His and hers. I didn’t see his and he didn’t see mine.
And life was good.
Now, generally in the morning before I’ve had enough coffee to mumble, this man I promised many years ago to love and cherish, but whom I want to stab when he starts talking calendars, says something like, “I hate to bring this up again, but why do you write ‘toes’ on your calendar. See? You have here ‘toes’? What does ‘toes’ mean? You have an appointment at the podiatrist? You’re getting a pedicure? See what I mean? It’s unclear.”
What is clear to me is that our knives are too dull to be used as weapons and that this is not a good way to start a day. And yet every day it’s the same. A former businessman who still lives by his calendar, he is now relentless in his determination to organize my life and have me live by my calendar, no matter how much I protest.
And protest, I do. “What difference does it make that I write ‘toes,’” I hiss between teeth I have gritted so often that they should be stumps by now. Today it’s toes. Yesterday it was something else. Today I say, “You don’t have to know what ‘toes’ means. I know what ‘toes’ means. And I know where I’m supposed to be.”
End of conversation, right?
Part Two of our morning chat ? “The Purpose of Keeping an Accurate Color-Coded Calendar.” I know it by heart.
“A calendar is useless,” he says, “if it isn’t filled out properly. A.M and P.M are there for a purpose. Location, location, location. Write down where your event will take place. Do not check ‘all day’ when an event is not all day. Putting a start time on a calendar is not enough. You must put in an end time, too. And, ‘tree guy,’” he adds this morning, “is not only unclear it is also, I assume, not entertainment. See. Look. You have it here in purple.”
I am turning purple.
Last week I entered my cousin Linda’s Labor Day party as an all-day event. Which it was. Come early. Stay late. That’s what she wrote in her text. That means all day to me. But my calendar purist said, “No. No. That’s not all day. What time does Linda’s party begin?” he asked and I went back and reread the invitation and it said “11:00” and my husband said, “Then you need to put 11 as the start time because when the day of the party comes, you won’t remember.”
“Yes, I will,” I told him. “And if I don’t remember I’ll just reread the text.”
This makes him turn purple.
But it’s my “maybes” that make him the craziest. “Maybe D.J.’s wedding,” “Maybe CC,” “Maybe Tavern night.”
“Maybe does not belong on a calendar,” he insists. “And ‘Maybe Tavern night’? What Tavern? Where?”
“Maybe is simply a reminder,” I explain. “I heard about the Tavern night they have at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. So I wrote it down as ‘maybe’ because I thought it would be fun. I didn’t want to commit to it right them, but I knew I’d forget if I didn’t write it down so that’s why it’s a maybe.”
“Is it still a maybe?”
“Not if I get tickets.”
I get tickets. And he says, “Now what you need to do is delete ‘maybe’ and put Tavern Night on your calendar in entertainment with the right time and place.”
“Let it go,” I say.
“I can’t,” he says.
6 years, 4 months, and 22 days of calendar sharing. It’s a good thing the knives we got for our wedding are dull.
Beverly Beckham’s column appears every two weeks. She can be reached at email@example.com.