Alberto Giacometti Disagreeable Object 1931
Illustration: Alberto Giacometti Disagreeable Object 1931
"All great decisions get made in this sort of space."

I suppose I pride myself on being an agreeable person. I find it extremely difficult to ever find anything to disagree with, for I seem naturally predisposed to look for the best, and I usually find it. I experience extreme discomfort at those rare times when I simply must demur. I might try on "yes, but" for size, but only very hesitantly ever pose a half-hearted "No!", let alone an emphatic one. My behavior probably means that I'm what the touts and frauds refer to as an easy touch, something my grandchildren deeply suspect or already know. A quivering chin and I transform into a placating boob.

Except on some issues.
The Muse and I are struggling to choose a color palate for the remodeled kitchen. I found a color that really spoke to me, like discovering a lost aspect of my true personality, but she sees too much orange in it, though to my eye it exhibits not even a distant rumor of orange. For me, it spoke a vibrancy that I imagined enlivening anyone's existence, should they be surrounded by it daily, like in a kitchen. Discovering this color transformed my whole relationship with the remodeling work. Suddenly, no challenge seemed insurmountable if it led me closer to a kitchen featuring this color.

The Muse approached me with all the enthusiasm of a reluctant tax collector to report that she'd completed her consideration of 'the color.' I'd the day before prepared a sample of the wainscoting boards painted as I was convinced they should ever after be colored, setting these beside the proposed cabinet wood, and finding the combination perfect. She'd said she needed some time to "think about it", which I recognized as a tell, perhaps a cue that she was trying to find a way to disagree with me in a way that wouldn't set off my aversion response, which, she understands, would typically be to disappoint myself so as to agree with her. I appreciate her care, but it didn't improve the quality of my experience when she delivered the news, which seemed like fake news, that she found my favorite color in the entire universe (so far) too orange for the purpose. (This color has not even the most distant rumor of orange to my eye.)

I responded by offering that I remained confident that she would come around to enthusiastically accept MY color once she recovered from her cold. I sounded like a Republican "reasoning" against gun control. I clearly cannot see the world through my true love's eyes, nor can she see the world through mine. What we usually believe amounts to near complete agreement simply has not been deeply enough considered to uncover the deep disagreements within. She's grown to favor clothes almost exclusively the colors I would never personally choose from the Crayola® box, with me choosing essentially the same solid blues and grays I've always favored. This wainscoting color might be the sole example of me personally selecting a rather bolder hue as my own, a coming out of sorts. I feel rejected. I don't have to wear her blouses, but we both have to wear this trim color.

She sat up long after I went to bed, fussing that she hates choosing color. I fell asleep understanding that my choice could not possibly qualify as a compromise candidate, that her curious color preferences would deeply influence our decision. I still have a vote, but time's running against both of us, since we might begin painting tomorrow. We have for the first time in our lives together the clear opportunity to apply the first paint to a construction of our own design, and we dare not decide not to decide by compromising into a choice neither of us really love for the sake of simply avoiding the experience of appearing disagreeable. It seems from here that no possible agreement space could possibly exist, though this experience seems in no way exceptional or unusual. All great decisions get made in this sort of space.

This is the paragraph where I'm supposed to confidently predict that we'll quickly come to complete agreement under the gentle coercion of a firm deadline, but I doubt that this will happen. It will get messier from here, with her nursing a worsening cold and me with my infamous inability to tolerate more than about five minutes shopping for anything. Imagine us standing on the heartless travertine of our favorite paint store sorting through samples unlikely to impress either of our color-saturated expectations. We will request a few samples and make several slow-motion trips between that store and the house to try each on for size. The Muse will duly update her computer model of the finished rooms and we will peer into each version as if into some Wicked Witch's mirror, trying to determine the fairest of all. I hope to rediscover my exuberance there, while struggling to believe that I might.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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