If I was a writer for the “David Letterman Show” and was assigned to create a Top 10 list for the topic, “Advice given to engaged couples,” my No. 1 would be something to this effect: “You may THINK you know the other person, but just you wait until you’re married.”
Hanna and I received this bit of counsel from a wide assortment of folks in the weeks leading up to our wedding date. In fact, it came with such frequent ferocity that we packed Brodie helmets in our luggage to prepare for the onslaught of revelations that would explode after we said “I do.”
Am I hyperbolizing for the sake of an elevated word count? Perhaps.
Still, many people did warn us to be prepared to learn a lot of new, unexpected information about each other.
But now, being married all this time (two and a half weeks) Hanna and I have both come to realize something: If there was something to know, we already knew it.
However here is what DOES happen: Whatever you already know becomes much more intensified. And I have proof.
Hanna and I have very different approaches to time management, particularly in regard to schedules and arrival timeliness. Whereas Hanna is content showing up right when an event starts, being on time for me is to be late. I like to get to the theater a half hour before the movie starts in case there is new trivia. Hanna, well, not so much.
To put it in technical terms, I am “monochronic” and Hanna is “polychronic.”
These words first came to my attention in an Intercultural Communication class two semesters ago, when studying high-context and low-context cultures in Edward T. Hall’s taxonomy.
Keep in mind, taxonomist Hall should not be confused with taxidermist Martha Maxwell or tax collector Zacchaeus (and a wee little man was he).
Did I go that far out of my way just to make a Zacchaeus joke? Perhaps.
While we were both aware of each other’s time concerns, one expedition on our honeymoon in Branson, Mo., revealed the extremeness of the difference.
It was the night we had tickets for dinner and a show on the Showboat Branson Belle (“Specializing in unnecessary vowels since 1994”). I wanted to leave at 6:15 so we could arrive at 6:30 to get our tickets and load the boat at 7:00 so we could sit contently in our seats for an hour until the boat left the dock at 8:00.
But we didn’t actually get in the car until after 6:30, causing me a twinge of stress.
Hanna typed “Branson Belle” into the GPS (its name is Gertrude) and away we went, traveling smoothly until Gertrude told us in the middle of the 76 strip that we had arrived at our destination.
At this point I was really getting frustrated because we were behind schedule. Hanna consoled me, saying we would still get there on time. I told her she was being silly.
I phoned home to get the address of the Showboat and Hanna told it to Gertrude and away we zoomed.
I was starting to feel a little better because we were finally out of town, which meant we had to be getting close. But hope began to fade as we wound around back roads for longer than expected. And then all expectations gave way when, in the middle of nowhere, Gertrude informed us we had reached our destination.
It was now almost 7:30 and we were going to miss the boat.
We set Gertrude to take us to the nearest landmark, which was Branson Landing. Hanna volunteered to call the Showboat people and ask for directions, but I knew it was a lost cause. This was confirmed when Hanna got off the phone: We were on the wrong side of Branson, trapped by backed-up traffic that apparently wasn’t planning to move anytime soon.
I had given up, and was already rehearsing the phone call to attempt a refund for a no-refund event. Meanwhile Hanna—who, despite my reminders, refused to believe the boat actually left the dock and therefore we weren’t going to miss it—was getting out a Branson map and playing navigator.
“Turn here onto the yellow route,” Hanna said.
I did it because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I had already resigned myself to the fact that we would be eating McDonald’s for supper.
But 15 minutes later, as you might have guessed, we pulled into the Showboat Branson Belle parking lot with 10 minutes to spare. We ran to the ticket booth and then ran onto the boat, sitting down at our table just as the server was putting down our salads.
Is being on time just as good as showing up an hour early?