Posted on March 12, 2019
by Steve Janowick

They always say you should walk away from a fight.  Especially one with your significant other. Turn the other cheek.  Simmer down. Don’t do (or say) anything that you’ll regret down the road.  Let your cooler head prevail.

Just walk away.

Well, that’s exactly what I did recently after a small nighttime disagreement with my wife turned into a back and forth yelling match.  I walked away. I was the level-headed husband. Yea, right. Who am I kidding? I was really playing the angry, stubborn fool. Too frustrated and immature to talk our differences out.  And, because of that, I found myself sitting in my minivan at midnight under the lights of my favorite convenience store-watching the shivering patrons run in and out. Sulking like a petulant child, I was gonna show her who the boss was.  I wasn’t going back with my tail between my legs and admitting defeat, dammit! No way! I was gonna pull an all-nighter out here if I had to.

An hour later, I was parked in an abandoned lot and wrapped tightly in some old work blankets in the back of my seat-less van. The engine had been cut off for a good 45 minutes and my breath was now visible with every exhale.  But, hey, I still had my pride, right? I was shaking uncontrollably, my toes were beginning to go numb, but I still maintained my machismo. I was still calling the shots. I was still the man!

However, I had five hours to go before sun up.  I was exhausted and couldn’t keep my eyes open. And unless I got up every half hour to start the engine…well, how in the hell was I going to do this without turning into a frozen corpse?  I was in a conundrum. It was a classic battle of wills. Of my ego versus my comfort. Being right versus being warm.

Stubbornness won out and into a fetal ball I curled.  Blankets now enveloping me completely. What a sight I was to the possible passerby.  A grown-ass man attempting to sleep in the back of a dirty minivan in sub-zero temperatures.  I tried to read the current book I was into on my phone-tried to distract my mind. But it’s funny how thoughts get overridden when the physical self is literally starting to freeze!

I got up and started the engine to warm the van up.  I could barely climb over the seats from exhaustion (and frustration).  I didn’t want to croak from carbon monoxide seeping into the cab from the old exhaust system, so this little up and down, engine on then engine off, warm then freezing, sleep then no sleep charade played out until dawn’s light finally broke through the hellish night I had just endured.

Needless to say, I walked back into our apartment at 6:00 am, head slumped, waving the white flag.  I crawled into our bedroom and saw my wife snug under the covers sleeping like a baby. She groggily opened her eyes after hearing me beg for forgiveness at the foot of the bed, at which time she called me a “dummy” and an “asshole.”  Both names which I accepted fully under the terms of surrender. Five seconds later I was lying on my soft bed under my very warm and cozy covers. Pressed up against my beautiful wife, I looked up at the ceiling and thanked my maker for the blessings, the little things, he bestowed upon me.  Blessings I used to take for granted-but no longer do. For the roof over my head. For warmth. For comfort. And for the love of a good woman.

Three seconds later I was in a deep slumber.

And I dreamt God was sitting up there with one of his angels, shaking his head and grinning after receiving my grateful words. “Yea, we done alright.  The frozen minivan was a great idea.” He turned to the angel, “hopefully there goes one less stubborn, prideful son of a bitch we have to worry about.”

…And then they high fived.

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