On the road again

My wife and I rarely argue. In fact, I could probably count on one hand the number of times we’ve disagreed over the course of our 17-year marriage. And I’m confident in saying that, of those few unmemorable occasions, the fault was, no doubt, mine.

Except for one. We have an annual, beginning-of-summer rite in which I attempt to correct her opinion on a matter which, oddly, and quite uncharacteristically, she refuses to understand.

The subject is street closures. I love art fairs — I love art — except when they spill out onto roadways and major thoroughfares. Everything in its place, I always say. After all, they’re not thoroughfairs. Sticking art in the middle of roadways is just asking for trouble.

But I’m a grump and curmudgeon and, on this subject, my wife will far too quickly agree with me. During our 2010 edition of the street closure discussion, we were on a walk and I was, block after block, irking her with my sound reasoning when we chanced upon our friend John.

“John,” I said, “You’re an intelligent, reasonable guy. Let me see what you think about this matter.”  

I explained, in great detail, the problem with street closures, the possible delays they cause emergency vehicles, the rerouting of traffic through otherwise quiet neighborhoods and back streets, the annoyance — in the case of art fairs — to stores who lose their regular customers because of the disruption, and many other salient and outstanding points, while giving a hasty overview of my wife’s less-satisfying defense.

“You sound like a Hummer-driving American,” John said, in a surprisingly unsupportive manner.

I gasped.

“No, but you’re not understanding,” I spluttered, indignantly. But by this point, he and his dog were gone, heading smack-dab in the direction of the street-clogging Edina Art Fair.

My wife just looked at me, sadly shaking her head.

“He always did like you better than me,” I said, closing the matter for the day.

But the issue lives on. Why, just last night, my wife and I were out for a summer evening’s excursion down Xerxes Avenue near Lake Calhoun when, all of a sudden, I was forced to apply the breaks in a quicker manner than I am wont to do because of, naturally, a gang of folks on the 3800 block who decided it was a fine night for a road-blocking party.

“Dear god!” I exclaimed. “Look at those revelers. Can you truly block off any street — including Xerxes — at any time, any day?”

“Don’t be a grump,” she said. “Just go over to York.”

While toodling down the Avenue of York, the gray matter kicked in. Rather than fight the system, and — more to the point, my wife — I’ll join it.

“You know, there are days when I’m working from home that I would appreciate a little peace and quiet. You have no idea how distracting a revving motor or back-firing motorcycle can be. Maybe I’d like to turn our stretch of Upton into a pedestrian mall. Can I do that?” I asked. “Can I just find a couple of sawhorses and put up some hand-lettered signs saying ‘Shush’ Writer working/Producer planning?”

My wife — god bless her — puts up with a lot. But on this matter, I am convinced I have the right-of-way.

Glenn Miller is a corporate video producer and can be found at glennmillerandassociates.com. He shares this column with his wife, Jocelyn Hale.