There are many things about the corporate world that I’m forced to inhabit during normal business hours that regularly perplex and frighten me — for example, the tendency of its residents to use “spend” as a noun and “parking lot” as a verb. (E.g., Corporate Wonk 1:“What was our spend this quarter?” Corporate Wonk 2: “Let’s parking lot that discussion for another day.” Me: Baaaaaaaaaaarrrrrffff)
Occasionally, however, my experiences drift into a more metaphysical realm. Case in point: the existential crisis that arose after I finally remembered to update my emergency contact information yesterday following my marriage last year. As you can see, the first few text fields are fairly standard. However, after selecting how I was related to my emergency contact from a handy — and, I must, say, quite thorough — drop-down menu, I became genuinely stumped by the final piece of information requested: my “Relationship Start Date.”
Uhh, say what now? You want to know when my relationship with my emergency contact started? What does that even mean? If I had listed a parent, would my faceless overlords have wanted to know the day I was born, the day I was conceived, or the day I truly began to recognize my parents as flawed human beings who I could finally and legitimately consider peers? More importantly, would Virginia and Oklahoma require a personhood amendment to even be able to answer this question?
Of course, I didn’t list a parent. I listed a spouse, which makes the question even moreproblematic when you consider the possibility that, in the event of an emergency, whoever contacts her could conceivably share the information about when I believe our relationship started. Sure, I could just play it safe and list the date we met, but it would certainly be a stretch to say we had a relationship at that time. And since we were friends before any sort of romantic entanglement reared its snarled head, which phase of our relationship is more pertinent in this case: our fledgling friendship or consequent courtship? I suppose the former could be said to have begun the first time we hung out socially in any capacity, but the latter is a much trickier knot to unravel.
Did “she” and “I” become “us” the first time we danced together in a raging discotheque located beneath the local bullfighting arena? Were we “we” the moment she agreed to accompany me unchaperoned through the narrow, winding streets of the ancient Moorish barrio on the outskirts of town? Or perhaps the solidifying moment came during our unexpected, Lady-and-the-Tramp-style kiss over a mutually munched churro? (In case you’re confused, I should probably point out that we met in Spain.)
Then again, her relationship as my spouse obviously didn’t begin until the day we married, so maybe I should simply list our anniversary as the “Relationship Start Date.” Yeah, our anniversary, which is on…uhhh…I remember it was summer-ish…
On second thought, maybe I should just start looking both ways before I cross the hallway, since avoiding an emergency at work seems to be the only way to avoid a much bigger emergency at home.