Nov 30, 2011 0 Share

Traveling on a High Note


Man and woman laughing in car.
iStockphoto

Driving up to New York to spend Thanksgiving with my family: 

Me behind the wheel and singing: “Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer. If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 98 bottles of beer on the wall! Ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wall, 98 bottles of beer. If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 97 bottles of beer on the wall...” 

My wife, Emily, chuckling: “Oh, that song! That was our favorite song to annoy the driver on the school bus.” 

Me, thinking: “Oh, how cute. I guess she likes that song since she has happy memories about it. And hey, now I'm the driver and I don't mind it!” 

Me, singing: “...Ninety-seven bottles of beer! If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 96 bottles of beer on the wall! Ninety-six bottles of beer on the wall, 96 bottles of beer! If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 95 bottles of beer on the wall...” 

Emily, clearing her throat: “Are you going to sing the whole thing?” 

Me: “Sure. Aren't you looking forward to that?” 

Emily: “Not especially.” 

Me, thinking: “Hmm, OK she doesn't dislike the song, she just doesn't especially like it.” 

Me, thinking: “Wait a second. Maybe I need to dial up that phrase a notch. NTs like Emily—especially female NTs—tend to phrase things gently.” 

Me, thinking: “Keep in mind, this is a long car trip. It's going to be an hour or two, minimum, before our first chance to get out of the car even briefly. This is not like, say, walking along the sidewalk—where she can just speed up, slow down, cross the street or even turn back if she doesn't like what I'm singing.” 

Me, thinking: “Hmm, why did she make a point of mentioning that the song annoyed the driver? Does that mean it could easily annoy others? And if so, why is she saying that?” 

Me, thinking: “Does 'Not especially' perhaps mean 'Not if you paid me to listen'?” 

Me, thinking: “And if that's the case, what might she do, while we're in this enclosed space? Turn the radio—or maybe one of her DVDs—full blast? Turn the heat up all the way?” 

Me, thinking: “Heck, what might she do any time—possibly get upset and let me have it with both barrels later on?” 

Me, thinking: “Hmmm, do we have something addressing this? Well, we already agreed that when she gets to listen to what she wants, I get the car temperature I want. And it's nice and cool right now.

Me, thinking: “Also, is this really worth making her unhappy? If our places were reversed, would I like her to cut down on the karaoke?” 

Me: “No problem, hon. Hey, this is interesting--we've got at least a few Deep Southerners on the road—a Clemson decal here, a Florida license plate there and a Georgia tag over there...”