*The following is a story about love. It is a story about knowing someone better than she knows herself. It is a story about how, when someone is confronted this truth, this person will argue against, then attempt to justify, then attempt to censor this information. In the end, however, episodes like this always end in laughter.
Lynnette and I went to Ala Moana to make those traditional exchanges and returns of Christmas gifts that weren’t quite perfect. Madison tagged along to pour her Christmas money back into the economy. None of us could have foreseen that a random trip to the mall would give us the early front-runner for Laugh of the Year.
We finished our shopping and walked out to the parking lot. We reached the van and began the tedious process of unloading the double stroller, then loading the kids and bags and everything else into the van. At about the same time, an SUV pulled up about 15 feet behind us. The owners of the SUV met a friend. Their conversation about childbirth and babies carried throughout the structure. I walked past them to throw away Cole and Avery’s go-home diapers – those that come from the last change before leaving for home – and it appeared as if the couple in the SUV were going to baby and/or dogsit for their friend. They were slowly loading up their car.
Lynnette and I finished first and Lynnette started to back the van out of the stall, but it became apparent that we didn’t have enough room to get out of the stall in a single move. Since I knew that the couple in the SUV was loading, I didn’t bother to ask them to move. I hopped out of the van and guided Lynnette twice. We were two moves away from getting out clean when the man saw us trying to get out. They were very apologetic, the guy even thanked me for not making a big deal of it. It wasn’t a big deal. They quickly got into their car and left.
I knew Lynnette was irritated. She has the patience to raise twins on her own, but that patience goes out the window in parking lots. The van was silent for a few moments.
“What?” I asked.
“You wanna talk about childbirth…” she started.
“I knew it!” I said. I laughed.
“What?” she asked.
“I knew you would turn it into a competition!” I said. I will explain this later.
Lynnette flashed a wry smile.
“But I couldn’t say it, otherwise you would have denied it,” I said.
“Philip,” she said.
“And then you would have made this face,” I said. I tried to impersonate the face Lynnette makes when she’s shocked by something I’ve said. Her eyes get big and her jaw drops; her entire head kind of jerks back.
“PHILIP!” she said.
“I just like knowing that I know you so well,” I said.
“It’s not, that’s not true!” she said.
“You know what? You’re right,” I said. I tolled the down the window and shouted into the parking structure. “WE GOT 18-PLUS HOURS OF LABOR RIGHT HERE!”
Madison thought it was the best thing she’d ever seen. Lynnette laughed.
“TWIN A ON MONDAY, TWIN B ON TUESDAY!” I shouted.
“Tell them again, dad!” Madison said.
“THE NURSES AT THE HOSPITAL SAID THEY COULD’T REMEMBER ANYTHING LIKE IT!” I shouted. We finally made it out of the lot.
“They didn’t notice us getting ready to leave?” she asked.
“What?” I said.
“So inconsiderate,” she said.
“What does that have to do with childbirth stories?” I asked.
Lynnette ignored the question.
“It’s over, we’re out, it’s fine,” I said.
“I’ll defend your honor,” I said.
We were on Piikoi headed north. I tried to lower the window again. It was locked.
“Madison, lower your window,” I said. Madison tried, but that one was locked, too.
“BOOOOOOOO!” I said. I even cupped my hands.
Lynnette just laughed. I had one move left.
When we got to a stoplight, I opened my door.
“She was in labor – ALL DAY!” I shouted, like Schmidt from New Girl.
Madison cackled. Lynnette laughed and shook her head. You had to have noticed how she did not deny any of the statements I made on her behalf. We ended up at Mr. Tea off Ward Avenue.
“You know what I like,” she said.
“I do,” I said. I got out of the car to get bubble drinks.
Flashback: When Lynnette and I first started dating, she dragged me out for a walk in the neighborhood surrounding my parents’ house. We had runners on and everything. It was a nice walk, we probably had a good talk. When we reached the final turn onto the road fronting my parents’ house, Lynnette took off. She didn’t say anything, she just took off in a sprint. A few seconds later, I realized that she was trying to beat me back to my house. I actually said “Aww, hell no”, then took off. I caught up to her and didn’t stop running until my driveway. “Did you really think you could beat me?” the much slimmer, much more athletic 23-year old version of myself asked. “Yeah,” she said. “I didn’t think you were in shape.” “I’m not in shape, but I can still outrun you in a small sprint,” I said. Years later the arrogance oozing off my tone is outweighed (YOU KNOW THAT PUN WAS INTENDED, FAM!) only by the irony in that I will never ever say that to another human being as long as I shall live.
The thing about this today’s ordeal is that it wasn’t really about the couple in the SUV. Lynnette is the type of person who stops in the middle of aisles and walkways all the time. She’s made the same faux pas dozens of times. I constantly have to let her know that people are trying to pass, or tap her shoulder in the direction she needs to move in. This story is about Lynnette’s secret competitive nature. Not many people know it exists, but I do. And I suggest that this is one of the very best parts of being in love with someone for so long. It isn’t just knowing them, it’s knowing them so well that you can predict their behavior with 99.9% accuracy. Whenever we go to a new restaurant, Lynnette will let me look at the menu for 5 minutes. Then, she’ll ask “What are you going to get?” I will almost always say I don’t know. Then, she rattles off – usually in order – the three things I’m eyeing. It’s uncanny, really. I can’t do that for her. But she nails it every time. I am glad that the couple in the SUV boxed us into our stall today. It led to a clear and entertaining reminder that I know Lynnette better than anyone in the world; it reminded me of why and how I fell in love with her all over again. But really, you guys –
18 HOURS OF LABOR, YOU KNOW? I, MEAN, JUST WOW, YOU GUYS!