Anyone who’s been in a fight with a significant other knows the code and hears the invisible follows. It’s a language you learn in your 20s and stay fluent in for life.
If someone yells “One day,” you can hear if it’s “One day” (I’ll dump your sorry ass), if it’s “One day” (you’ll realize what we had) or if it’s (I just wanted) “One day” (without having to deal with your shit).
That’s how I knew the way the woman in the black Honda Accord said “Bob” was a bad one. It was burning and resentful, should be underlined, italicized and maybe written in that drippy red blood font from horror movies.
It was “Bob” (you jackass), not “Bob” (the sweetiekins light of my life).
I was riding my bike north on Halsted, past the bars, bistros, boutiques, drag theaters and S&M shops of Boystown, Chicago’s awesomely named gay neighborhood.
The voice from the Accord belonged to an older woman, one far-fallen into the delusion that perms and dyeing could make white hair a convincing blond. She sat next to the “Bob” of blood font mention, an older man with a head of gray hair, some sunglasses and a horizontally striped polo shirt that screamed to the world “This man knows his golf handicap!”
The car pulled away. I kept pedaling past rainbow-colored signs and the occasional couple chattering happily about both having penises as they walked down the street.
I caught up to the Accord at a light.
“You don’t know” (what the person we are discussing has been through!), the woman shouted at Bob.
Green green green. Please. Green.
The next several blocks were an unintentional game of tag between red bike and black Honda Accord.
Despite my best efforts, I would catch up with the black Accord at lights and signs and occasionally just on open stretches, just enough to hear the fight continue before they sped off.
“You’ve been holding him back!” the man shouted at one point, trying to karate chop the steering wheel for emphasis like a shoeless Khrushchev.
They peeled off, soon catching another red.
“One day,” he muttershouted loud enough for me to hear, three feet and a car door away. “Just one fucking day” (without having to deal with your shit).
I got blocked behind one of the many, many Chicago drivers still confused by the marked-off lane with a picture of a bike on it (“Wuzzat for? Trees? Dogs? Parking if I feels like it?”). As I got past, I looked ahead and saw a black Honda Accord turn right at a stop sign.
I guess I should feel bad making comedic hay out of a couple in pain, but if stories of young lovers all kisses and grabass are fair game for the poet, writer or street photographer, I don’t see why their alternate shouldn’t be. The fruit of a ripened love should be as considered as the young shoots of its first bloom.
Even if the resulting fruit is a weird argument speeding through a rainbow neighborhood in a black Accord.
In a poetic way, a love that fights and recovers is more beautiful than one that’s perfect until it shatters. But I was glad they were gone, headed down that side street into that all-important zone known as “not by me.”
I pulled up to the next intersection.
“I was there twice!” I heard a man’s voice yell from a Honda Accord, which I’ve since learned is the seventh best-selling car of all time and was America’s top pick by individual consumers for all of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014.
Black’s a very popular color, too.
“Twice!” Bob yelled to his wife before their particular Accord sped down the road, red bicycle pedaling behind.