Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sailing Too Close to the Wind

"The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well being of others."
-Sharon Anthony Bower

In late 2006 when Spouse and I had been apart for months, we took a cruise together from Ireland to France. We sailed for two nights before reaching Cherbourg, spent several hours in the port town and prepared to reach home after another two nights' worth of travelling.
One night I was awakened by the sound of a party I was not invited to attend but forced to listen to. There were obviously drunken people in the hall leaning against our door, lighting cigarettes, taking photographs- I saw the flash time and again-and drinking from bottles. I sighed and hoped that they would leave soon.
Spouse in the other bunk bed had not stirred. I was cross, for it seemed I must endure the situation alone. The crowd laughed louder and took some more photographs. I dimly recall getting out of bed and raising my shoe to hammer it on the door. The person pressed against the door would receive such a nasty jolt it would sober the fellow up in no time. My hand twitched but I pulled back in time. I did not want to cause trouble and they knew, in a manner of speaking, where we lived. Reluctantly I slipped back into bed, ready to burst into tears. I moved about in such a way and made sufficient noise that Spouse woke up promptly. I suspect I had initiated that in a sly way: I could neither sleep nor deal with it alone.
Spouse heard the mischief outside but being the sort he is, muttered something about letting things go, and went peacefully back to sleep.
"Wake up," I said. "I can't sleep."
Spouse now could not sleep either, and got out of bed. He swung open the door. I cowered under my covers.
The gang scattered like sand in a storm. They ran away to their rooms- all but one. One poor fellow had no nearby cabin to hide in and he was left stranded in the hallway. I heard Spouse saying, "there are people trying to sleep in here,you know." He evidently thought little of my Spouse, for although he replied with "I'm really, really, really sorry. It won't happen again," there was an underhand flavour to his tone that Spouse missed. Unfortunately for the sarcastic young man, I did not. I whispered to my Spouse, who was standing in the doorway ready to forgive, "he's mocking you. He's being funny."
Spouse again faced the scamp who had no idea that my Spouse was about to turn on the anti-charm. Bare chested and solemn and relying on the truth of my hushed words, Spouse declared, "and I'm not being funny, by the way." The power of those words cannot be underestimated. The whippersnapper went silent all of a sudden and then he began to apologise with the right amount of sincerity before retreating into the nearest hiding place.
There was not another sound that night save for the gentle splash of the water as we rolled softly home.

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