ANNE RAWLEY SALDICH, Ph.D.
Anne Rawley Saldich, Ph.D., MFT
Liz Tiber was freezing cold. Her husband said to meet at the northwest corner of 5th Avenue and 46th Street, which she had been doing for the past forty-five minutes, wondering always if he really meant the southwest, or southeast corner. It was the fourth time in the recent past that he kept her waiting, without any word in advance.
Fifth is a wide avenue. Having Mr. Magoo's eyes, Liz wouldn't be able to pick him out from a distance if he were waiting on another corner. Glancing at her watch, she decided on a quick tour.
By the time she waited for lights to change, dodged the traffic that didn't pay attention to lights, did a survey of each corner, and got back to where she had been Philip was sauntering toward her. He smiled. His eyes lit up.
"Hi darling." He wrapped Liz in his arms, leaned down and kissed her. Like young lovers the world over they were oblivious: By-passers bumped into them and smiled a nostalgic remembrance, or a wistful hope. They had been married five months.
She leaned against Philip, lips lingering, so relieved that he was there. "Oh, I'm cold. Let's get to the restaurant. I want a cup of really hot tea. What happened?"
"To you. I got here on time and it's now seven. Were you held up by some deal?"
"Oh, no. I ran into Charlie on the way out. You know how important he is to the ad campaign. We got to talking and he suggested we get a beer at Zimby's, so ... "
"A beer? You mean you've been warm and sheltered this past hour, just a couple blocks from here, while I've been huddled against the wind? Philip, tell me I'm not hearing right."
They were at the restaurant's door. Liz stopped walking, folded her arms tightly and looked him dead in the eye.
"You kept your bride of five months waiting while you chatted up Charlie? God, Philip, am I even on your list? Why didn't you let me know you'd be late?" Her voice ended in a whine that irritated Philip but he sensed he was in deep trouble.
"How could I let you know? You're here on a corner in the middle of Manhattan. I mean, get real. What could I do?"
"I don't know what you could have done, Philip, but whatever it is you didn't do it. I'm getting a cab." She stepped back, narrowing her eyes. He stepped forward. "Alone! And you ...," she took a deep breath, "will sleep in the living room tonight! I can't believe you did this to me!"
She leapt toward the curb and hailed a cab. Two empties passed in succession. New York drivers often don't pick up women at rush hour. They think men tip more. Liz was not just mad at Philip. She was mad at men. Into the street she stomped, hand flat out like a traffic cop, with Philip on her heels. His hands were flung wide in amazement.
"Did what? What did I do? Liz, you're overreacting!"
Daggers flew at him from a compartment in the back of her head. "How does she do that?" he wondered.
"Philip, I hate that patronizing, macho, weary expression! I am not overreacting!"
A taxi screeched to a stop, missing her knee by a hair. With grit teeth and tears forming, she ripped the door open and scrambled in like an All-American linebacker. He hung onto the door, trying to get in but she pulled with such force that he was lucky to have fingers as the cab sped uptown.
Poor Philip. What could he possibly have done? Well, you can be sure, if his wife were his most important client, he would have found a way to let the client know that he'd be late.
He could have told Charlie he had a meeting that was not a movable feast and he'd see him in the morning. He could have flagged a taxi and sent a note to his "client": For a twenty, the cabbie would have found her. He could have invited Charlie to walk with him to where his "client" was waiting. He could have told the simple truth and said he had to meet his wife who was standing on a corner. Truth is so easy and effective that we often overlook it as an option.
No, Philip did not use his imagination or creativity because it was only his wife standing out in the cold. Five years from now Philip may have trouble remembering the name of his now-most-important-client. He may not even remember this or similar incidents. But, he may be sleeping at a different address and not just in the living room if he doesn't start making choices that reflect his fundamental values and purpose in life.
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